Go Behind the Scenes of Mission Declassified With Christof Putzel

Get to know host and award-winning journalist Christof Putzel and see some of the best moments from the show caught off camera.

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In the War Room

Christof Putzel is an investigative reporter with more than 20 years of experience uncovering the truth. In the new show Mission Declassified, Putzel is taking a second look at some of history’s most infamous cases--this time with the help of nearly three million newly released FBI documents. Here he is in the "War Room" with a board of new leads.

Replicating Materials

In the episode "Escape From Alcatraz," Putzel examined newly released documents that revealed the infamous 1962 inmates may have escaped "The Rock" using a homemade raft fashioned out of rubber raincoats. Putzel and his team tried to recreate a similar raft that would be slightly leaky just like the inmates’ raft.

Testing a Theory

FBI documents revealed that the Coast Guard did, in fact, find a raft fashioned from raincoats on the shore of nearby Angel Island. Putzel and his team created a leaky raft with the same dimensions as the original raft found by the Coast Guard and set out to see if a vessel could actually support three men and cross the nearly two-mile stretch of water successfully. Unlike the inmates, the team wore wetsuits to keep warm in the chilly San Francisco Bay.

Looking for Clues

In "Escape From Alcatraz," Putzel spent days combing through hundreds of newly released documents regarding the escaped inmates. He connected multiple witness sightings and reports of a stolen blue Chevy and followed the paper trail from California all the way to South Carolina.

Digging Through Archives

After a tip from a family photo taken in Brazil, Putzel traveled to Taubate, Brazil in search of the escaped inmates. With help from the Taubaté city archives curator Amanda Monterio and his local guide Bruna Amaro, Putzel examined maps of the area from the 1960s and 1970s to pinpoint potential locations.

Stopping for a Photo

While exploring the "Farm of the Americans" in Taubaté, Putzel stopped to take a photo of a rustic wagon. Check out more of his photos from the road on Instagram.

Ready to Dive

In the episode "The Hunt for D.B. Cooper," Putzel uncovered new details in declassified documents regarding the infamous plane hijacker Dan Cooper and his parachute dive into thin air in 1971. Putzel headed to Skydive Perris to experience firsthand what jumping out of place would feel like. This was his first time skydiving and he later admitted that it’s a lot scarier than it looks!

In the Air

As Putzel discovered in newly released documents, D.B. Cooper jumped out of the plane when it was going 200 miles per hour at 10,000 feet in the air. The only way he could have done this successfully was by timing his jump perfectly. So, Putzel and the master skydivers created a test to see if they could hit a small target even with a small miscalculation.

Raising the Stakes

One of the biggest mysteries of the D.B. Cooper case is how he could have laundered $200,000 without being detected. After digging into flight maps and a newly released document with a potential sighting of Cooper, Putzel regroups and heads to Las Vegas. Here, Putzel sits at a blackjack table at the El Cortez Hotel with Vegas insider Anthony Curtis. The gaming pro showed Putzel how D.B. Cooper could have laundered dirty money by carefully exchanging bills for chips.

Journalism Legacy

In the episode "The Lindbergh Kidnapping" Putzel uncovers declassified FBI documents that suggest the infamous Lindbergh baby kidnapper, Bruno Richard Hauptmann, may have had help from more people. Putzel sets out to piece together more information, starting with a familiar source. His grandfather, Samuel G. Blackman, originally broke the story of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in 1932. Here, Putzel retraces his grandfather’s steps by going through his personal files from the story.

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