Wednesday, August 03, 2011


"Miss, you'd better look at that note. I have a bomb."

In 1971, a man gave a note to a woman on an airplane demanding refueling, four parachutes, and $200,000 in cash at the next airport. He got his demands and released the passengers, then while flying over Washington state, the rear airstair door opened and was closed. When the plane was checked, the man was missing.

This man has never been identified and while he gave the name D.B. Cooper when he got his plane ticket, that was an alias. Since no one is exactly sure when he left the plane, and one parachute was missing, it is presumed he jumped out over southern Washington, perhaps near Mt St Helens. A huge manhunt was started, covering tens of thousands of rugged mountain terrain. Some speculated that Cooper had died after a poor landing. Given the canyons, rocks, and mountainous terrain, it was not an unreasonable guess.

The money was never recovered. Cooper was never seen again. The case went totally cold, and no trace of the crime was ever found. All that ever was found was a placard telling how to open the rear hatch and almost 300 of the $20 bills with the serial numbers the FBI marked down were found on the shore of the Columbia River. D.B. Cooper faded into legend.

Now, forty years later, the police think they may have a new lead. ABC News reports:
A woman claiming to be the niece of infamous skyjacker D.B. Cooper has spoken to ABC News in an exclusive interview about her role in the recently re-ignited 40-year-old cold case that has haunted the FBI for years.

Marla Cooper told ABC News that she has provided the FBI with a guitar strap and a Christmas photo of a man pictured with the same strap who she says is her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper.
Allegedly, the girl says her father and his brothers bought walkie talkie radios and were suspiciously discussing some event the day before the highjacking, then the day it happened were out on a turkey hunt. When they came back, they said their troubles were over.

Her uncle, L.B. Cooper supposedly lost most of the money when he crashed down to earth. She says he was a Korean war vet but had no parachute experience. Her father and uncles wanted to go back and search for the cash but did not, probably because of the FBI in the area. L.B. Cooper left and she has never seen him again. when his picture was shown the flight attendants on that fateful airplane, they said "That sure looks like the guy."

Unfortunately, the police have thought they had new leads several times which never came to anything. A skull was found near where the money was buried, but it turned out to be a native American woman's. A parachute was found in the Columbia river, but it wasn't the right kind and age. Several suspects were brought in and questioned, but were cleared.

In the Northwest, D.B. Cooper is a bit of a legend, and if not exactly a hero his ability to evade capture all these years does get him some admiration. He hurt no one, was very polite, and disappeared with the money, which makes him seem pretty clever. Its not even clear he had a bomb, the woman who saw it described it as two stacks of red cylinders connected by insulated wires to a large battery.

I hope they get him, out of a sense of justice, but in a way he's kind of cool for getting away as well.

1 comment:

Eric said...

I heard that he got away, but his girlfriend did him in...