During Carl’s investigation, the FBI stated that it would only accept part of the ransom money or the getaway parachute as evidence in order to re-open the case. Carl knew he had little chance of either - the money was long ago spent, and eventually taken out of circulation and destroyed, or stored in safe deposit box in Canada and eventually laundered through a bank in Quebec; the parachute was either destroyed or already in someone’s possession.
CARL AND THE COWBOY
Carl suspected that the intelligence community had recovered the parachute shortly after the skyjacking, but he decided to make the trip from his Florida home to Washington state anyway in 2012. He hoped to find either the parachute or - even better - the eyewitness Walt told him he had encountered minutes after the jump. They were both very long shots, but Carl had something the other investigators didn’t: the true location of Walt’s drop zone.
Walter had no idea where he had landed, but he described the route he was driven home by his friend Don after the hijacking, the cafe he walked to, and the “Cowboy” who provided directions to the cafe from Don’s home in Seattle. Without knowing his real name, Walt called him Cowboy because he was wearing cowboy attire and had his guitar next to him. Cowboy was a dump truck driver who had told Walt he felt sorry for not being able to give him a ride, due to the fact that his truck only had 1 seat in the cab. This information led Carl to the site of the former Teanaway Junction Cafe just outside Cle Elum, WA.
Carl was unsuccessful at finding the parachute, but hit gold with when he searched for Cowboy.His first stop in Cle Elum was a towing company and gas station owned by a man named Wayne Willette. After Carl described a country singer who drove a dump truck, Wayne agreed to check around with the older residents in the area. Carl returned to Florida and received a call from Wayne a couple of days later. Wayne explained that a former police officer from nearby Roslyn, Jeff Osiadacz, was a well known musician in the area and had been working as a dump truck driver by night many years ago. Carl had found Cowboy, and he was still alive and performing!
In the documentary, viewers hear Jeff explain how he recalled the strange encounter over forty years earlier: a man who had just come in from the elements as “red as a beet” with his overcoat wrapped around something carried under his arm, no idea where he was, and asking for directions from Seattle. Jeff matched Walter’s description of Cowboy, and Walter matched Jeff’s description of him.