Sunday, July 31, 2011

Folk Hero D.B. Cooper: FBI Investigation Finds New Suspect In Forty Year Old Mystery

D.B. Cooper
D.B. Cooper was a mysterious flight passenger back in late November 1971.  He boarded a Northwest flight from Portland to Seattle on a cold, stormy night, wearing a suit, a cheap tie and dark glasses.  While in flight he hijacked the plane, claiming to have dynamite on board.  The FBI acceded to his demands and gave him a sack of money, $200,000 and four parachutes.  Cooper then demanded that the plane fly him to Mexico, but when in the air, he strapped on two of the parachutes and bailed out over southwestern Washington.

Cooper jumped out of the rear cargo ramp under the plane and disappeared into the howling storm and was never seen or heard from again.  From that time on, the D.B. Cooper mystery has captured the public's imagination.  There was once a D.B. Cooper's restaurant in downtown San Jose, complete with a dummy of D.B. hanging from parachute cords attached to the ceiling.  The establishment is no longer there.

Some believe Cooper did not survive the bail-out, perhaps dying on impact. If he landed safely, he may have died from the elements.  He was, after all, only wearing a suit, jumping into a freezing rainstorm. No bones or body was ever found in the forested wilderness where he jumped, though $5,880 in tattered bills from his cash was found years later (in 1980), buried in the sand beside the Columbia river.  The rest of the $200,000 was never located.

Forty years have passed, and now the FBI claims to have a new suspect in the case.  They have the hijacker's DNA from the many cigarette butts he left behind, and also from his tie, which he left draped over a seat.  They also have many fingerprints.  All of this is ample evidence to identify the perpetrator, if they can ever find him.

It is possible that the perpetrator is now dead, even if he survived the jump.  Forty years is a long time. Even so, the FBI would like to solve the case.  (The FBI has not disclosed whether their "promising new suspect" is alive or dead.)

Cooper's daring crime leaves many with the hope that he somehow survived; not because they approve of his crime, but because of his bravery.  I hope they solve the case, one way or another.  I'd like to know what happened to Dan Cooper.

Read more about it here, here and here.

Update:  News reports now say the new suspect is a man who has been dead for ten years.

Watch Part 1 and Part 2 of the "Unsolved Mysteries" episodes on D.B. Cooper:

Part 1
Part 2

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