Archive for Tuesday, August 2, 2011

‘Credible lead’ surfaces in D.B. Cooper case

August 2, 2011


— The FBI is investigating whether a dead man in the Pacific Northwest is D.B. Cooper, who hijacked a passenger jet in 1971 over Washington state and parachuted with $200,000 in ransom.

Cooper has never been found.

FBI agent Fred Gutt said Monday the bureau is following up a “credible” lead in the unsolved case and is focused on a suspect who died more than 10 years ago.

Gutt said the bureau received a tip from a retired law enforcement source about the dead man possibly being Cooper. FBI agents requested personal effects of the possible suspect, who died of natural causes.

The FBI is trying to find fingerprints or DNA on the dead man’s effects to compare with items the hijacker left behind. The FBI said three years ago that it found DNA evidence on the clip-on tie Cooper left on the plane before he jumped.

Gutt said the FBI has already tested one item of the dead man’s belongings for fingerprints. It was not conclusive. They are now working with surviving family members to gather other items for further testing.

The suspect is someone who has not been previously investigated, and Gutt said initial vetting supported the belief of the tipster. But he cautioned that the new lead may not pan out and that investigators were still pursuing other possibilities.

“Maybe this is just someone else who just happened to look like him and whose life story just kind of paralleled,” Gutt said.

Gutt said the new lead is also promising because of the way it came to the FBI. The tipster initially discussed the case with a retired law enforcement officer who then contacted the FBI. Only after the FBI contacted the witness directly did the person discuss the Cooper case with investigators.

“They’re not seeking attention,” Gutt said. “To the contrary, they’re looking to avoid it.”

Federal investigators have checked more than 1,000 leads since the suspect bailed out on Nov. 24, 1971, over the Pacific Northwest.

The man who jumped gave his name as Dan Cooper and claimed shortly after takeoff in Portland, Ore., that he had a bomb, leading the flight crew to land the plane in Seattle, where passengers were exchanged for parachutes and ransom money.

The flight then took off for Mexico with the suspect and flight crew on board. The hijacker parachuted from the plane after dark as it flew south, apparently over a rugged, wooded region of the Pacific Northwest. In 1980, a boy found several thousand dollars in $20 bills from the ransom decomposing along the Columbia River.


Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

Sure, it's interesting.

But, is investigating this 40 year old case really worth all of the taxpayer's money that is still being spent on it?

riverdrifter 6 years, 9 months ago

Nope. This is for FBI new-hires: "Here kid, go jack with that D. B. Cooper thing. Ask your folks about it."

My GAS switch is in the off position on this one as well, Ron.

Cait McKnelly 6 years, 9 months ago

There are things left out of the article. In 1980, three packets of the ransom money were found, significantly deteriorated, on the banks of the Columbia River, downstream from Vancouver, WA/Portland, OR. Two of the packets contained 1,000$ in hundreds. The third packet was missing one 100$ bill. No one knows why those packets were still together and it casts doubt on the idea that they floated down the river. There is also the fact that the money, whose serial numbers were meticulously recorded and publicized numerous times, has never shown up in circulation. This has led to the belief that Cooper didn't survive his jump. He may not have died on impact but been injured seriously enough that he never made it out of the wilderness. Having lived in that area for a number of years I have some familiarity with it. The Olympic Peninsula and Cascade mountain area is extremely wild with hundreds of square miles of wilderness, some of which may have never even seen humanity. The area is so wild and so huge that it supports a "Bigfoot" cult; people who believe that an upright, bipedal humanoid that is yet not "human" exists in that wilderness. The Olympic Peninsula supports the only temperate rain forest in the entire world. It's been forty years since Cooper made his famous jump. If he survived (and I fully believe that chances for that are exceedingly slim), he crawled out of that wilderness without the money. If he did die there, his bones may never be found.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

It seems that I recall reading something a long time ago that was quite interesting about the parachutes that D. B. Cooper was given.

He demanded two parachutes, which he received. But, and I don't think this was done intentionally in the rush to locate two parachutes, one of them was a parachute that was to be used only for training.

It was never to be used except for training in how to fold a parachute.

And so, it had some stitching in it to permanently make the folds in order to show the students how to fold it properly in order to get the parachute to open properly.

There is no possible way that parachute could have opened, if indeed that was the one he actually used.

In any case, the training parachute was found to be missing after the event.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

clipped from Wikipedia, which may not be accurate:

"one of the two reserve parachutes obtained in haste from the Seattle skydiving school and inadvertently supplied to Cooper was a "dummy"–an unusable unit intended for classroom demonstrations.[86] A ripcord was present but inoperative. Though it had markings identifying it to any experienced skydiver as a dummy,[87] Cooper selected it for his jump, apparently unaware that it was not functional."

[86] ^ a b Ingalls, Chris (November 1, 2007). "Investigators: F.B.I. unveils new evidence in D.B. Cooper case". King 5. Archived from the original on January 5, 2008. Retrieved March 11, 2008.

[87] ^ Gunther 1985, p. 40.

Ron Holzwarth 6 years, 9 months ago

"The area is so wild and so huge that it supports a "Bigfoot" cult; people who believe that an upright, bipedal humanoid that is yet not "human" exists in that wilderness."

Well cait48, I can explain that one.

It's the ghost of D. B. Cooper.

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