Robert Richard Lepsy was 33 years old when he disappeared in 1969. The strange circumstances behind Lepsy’s death has made it very difficult to speculate what happened to him.
His disappearance bizarrely received very little attention until more recent years, when it was suggested that Lepsy could’ve been the infamous hijacker DB Cooper.
This article takes a look at the disappearance of Robert Richard Lepsy. There is a reader’s poll at the end of the article, which we hope you partake in. We will all be able to see what the consensus is among our readers as to what happened.
Robert Richard Lepsy was born in 1937. He grew up in Chicago, Illinois, before moving to Grayling, Michigan at just 18 years of age. When there, he met his future wife, Jackie Hunter.
Lepsy and Hunter had four children in quick succession. Lepsy rose up the ranks at his local branch of Glen’s Market – a grocery store. By the time of his disappearance, he was working as the Store Manager,
Lepsy was considered to be a very bright individual, and was seen as a family man. He wasn’t known to be in any financial trouble, nor were there believed to be any rifts within the Lepsy family.
On October 29th, 1969, Lepsy went to the store as normal. However, in the early afternoon, he contacted his wife to say that he wouldn’t be joining her for lunch at their home.
Lepsy said on the phone that he was going to go for a drive to clear his head. But within an hour, Lepsy called the store, and said that he wouldn’t be coming back that afternoon.
That phone call marked the final time that anyone heard from Lepsy. He failed to return home that night, and didn’t show up to work the next morning. The alarm was soon raised.
An investigation took place, with Lepsy’s family left confused and worried by his disappearance. The first few days passed without any developments or sightings.
But three days after Lepsy vanished, his car was discovered at a nearby airport – the Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan. His wife discovered the car.
Rather strangely, the doors were unlocked, the keys to the car remained in the ignition, and there was a half-empty pack of cigarettes on the dashboard. Crucially, there was no sign of Lepsy.
Employees at the airport were questioned regarding whether or not they remembered coming into contact with anyone resembling Lepsy.
One employee did recall seeing a man that resembled Lepsy buying a ticket for a plane to Mexico, and boarding the flight. Other than this, there was no clear sign of what Lepsy did at the airport – or even if this was indeed Lepsy.
His old grocery store found that $2,000 was missing from the safe, which was attributed to Lepsy. This suggested that he might have planned a getaway ahead of leaving.
Based on the above information, the Police were satisfied that Lepsy had boarded a flight for Mexico both voluntarily and willingly. Therefore, they did not pursue a missing person’s case, much to the chagrin of the Lepsy family.
Lepsy’s family refused to give up, and took out newspaper advertisements, trying to raise awareness of the family patriarch’s disappearance.
The Lepsy family also contacted the Mexican consulate, but there was to be no positive news. As the years passed, no one heard from Lepsy. Lepsy had seemingly vanished without trace, and was ultimately declared legally dead in 1976.
Two years later, the infamous DB Cooper hijacking took place. This was where a man boarded a passenger aircraft, before claiming he had a bomb. He was given $200,000 in ransom money, before parachuting out of the plane, never to be heard from again.
In the aftermath of the hijacking, the Lepsy family noted that the composite drawing of Cooper showed many similarities to Lepsy’s appearance.
They also believed that Lepsy met the physical description of Cooper that day .For instance, Cooper wore loafers that day, which were Lepsy’s preferred shoes. Cooper also wore a tie that resembled the tie that Lepsy would wear to work each day.
The FBI were alerted to the Lepsy family’s suspicions, though evidence suggests in more recent years suggests that this theory was given little consideration by investigators.
One of Lepsy’s children – Lisa Lepsy – went as far as to submit a DNA sample to the FBI in 2011, though the results of this were never made public.
This theory received a significant push in 2014, when a book by author Ross Richardson, named Still Missing, was published. The book was based on Richardson’s steadfast belief that Lepsy was Cooper.
Lepsy continues to receive attention when it comes to DB Cooper – with many suggesting that Lepsy could indeed have been the same person as DB Cooper.
Lepsy was never located, nor was any body ever found either. Wile many are confident that Lepsy was Cooper, the most common beliefs are that either Lepsy left his life behind to start afresh, or that he was murdered.
There are three main theories in this case. Due to the lack of investigation into this case, there isn’t too much evidence to work with.
We take a look at the evidence for the three theories:
Theory One: Lepsy voluntarily left the country and moved to Mexico to start afresh
A lot of the evidence suggests that Lepsy did purposefully leave the country. Some have proposed that Lepsy was going through a mid-life crisis, was stressed due to his job, or tired of his family life, and decided to start afresh in a new country.
Lepsy also appeared to take $2,000 from his store’s safe. This could have been enough to get Lepsy through the first few months in Mexico.
While there isn’t really any evidence to suggest this theory is correct, it seems plausible, given how Lepsy suddenly left, and no body has ever been found. In an age before the internet and social media, it would be possible for someone to go to a new country and not be recognised at all.
Lepsy then could have feasibly just lived out the rest of his days in Mexico. Investigators believed this theory, and closed their case.
Theory Two: Lepsy was murdered, or took his own life
There is a strong body of evidence to suggest that Lepsy was either murdered, or died. As a starting point, his disappearance was out of character.
Lepsy seemed to be a family man – and it is questionable as to whether or not Lepsy would leave his wife and four children behind. While this wouldn’t be cowardly, it is something that would be rare, and frowned upon.
However, if Lepsy was going through a mid-life crisis, or mental health problems, then he could have conceivably, albeit tragically, taken his own life in despair. It isn’t clear though why his body has never been found if this is true, unless Lepsy took his own life in a remote location.
It is possible that in his personal life, that Lepsy may have got involved with some dangerous people. If a murder was to be covered up, an airport is an excellent place to leave a car.
In the absence of CCTV, we cannot be sure if Lepsy even did make it to the airport. That belief rests on an eyewitness account of an employee at the airport. This employee could easily have been mistaken, and Lepsy was at the airport.
Moreover, it seems that Lepsy purely left for Mexico with $2,000, and next to nothing else. While $2,000 was worth much more in the 1960’s than it is now, this is still not exactly an amount he could live off of forever.
Theory Three: Lepsy escaped the country, but later became DB Cooper and either died or survived the parachuting
As mentioned above, there is also a belief among many that Lepsy could have been DB Cooper. The Lepsy family believed that their father looked similar to DB Cooper’s composite sketch.
When comparing Lepsy’s appearance with the composite sltch of Cooper, there is a resemblance. Lepsy also seemed to fit the height and weight proposed, and was of a similar age to Cooper.
This belief was also supported by the author Ross Richardson in his aforementioned Still Missing book. Richardson believed that many different factors supported this.
However, others have cast doubt on these claims. Firstly, many people have suggested that someone they know was Cooper – literally hundreds of people have been accused of being him.
Moreover, it is widely believed that Cooper would have had some experience in the military or with aviation, due to his knowledge of the flight path. Lepsy didn’t appear to have this knowledge.
The above theories each have interesting parts to them. We would love you to vote below on the theory you believe to be accurate.
The disappearance of Robert Richard Lepsy never received much interest, making conclusions difficult. It is possible that he emigrated to Mexico to start afresh. But, some evidence suggests that he never made it to Mexico, while others go as far to say he could’ve been DB Cooper.
While Lepsy’s disappearance remains unsolved, the questions will remain for a long time. Whether or not we’ll ever receive answers to these questions remains to be seen.