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FBI Closes D.B. Cooper Investigation After 45 Years (oregonlive.com) 187

An anonymous reader writes: The Federal Bureau of Investigation says it is no longer investigating the unsolved mystery of D.B. Cooper. The bureau said Tuesday that it's "exhaustively reviewed all credible leads" during its 45-year investigation and has redirected those resources to other priorities. The investigation was of a man calling himself Dan Cooper (the media mistakenly called him D.B. Cooper and it stuck) who hijacked a Boeing 727 headed for Seattle after boarding at Portland International Airport on November 24, 1971. In Seattle, he claimed he had an explosive device and demanded parachutes and $200,000 in ransom money. After releasing the 36 passengers from the plane and receiving four parachutes and $200,000 in cash, Cooper ordered several of the crew members who were kept on board to fly to Mexico City. Shortly after returning to the air, Cooper jumped from the back of the plane and landed somewhere in the Pacific Northwest. No trace of Cooper was found, but several bundles of cash were found in 1980. The FBI says it has conducted searches, collected all available evidence and interviewed all identifiable witnesses, but none have resulted in identifying the hijacker.
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FBI Closes D.B. Cooper Investigation After 45 Years

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:24AM (#52502835)

    Today you get a golden parachute and a couple of millions in cash after releasing 3600 workers. Without having to hijack a plane.

    Inflation, I guess.

    • Re: (Score:2, Flamebait)

      by Shark ( 78448 )

      They probably linked some of the money to the Clinton Foundation and don't want to get in trouble.

  • I've heard the name D.B. Cooper a number of times before (on Newsradio, among other places) but had always thought that I was missing something about the story, since it just sounded like someone who stole some money. "What was the big deal?" I said to myself.

    I appreciate the concise summary, since most times I've tried to look this up the articles just go on and on about it... "What was the big deal?" I would say as I read them, but this was the one question which they were apparently unwilling to answe
    • Wasn't a big deal? This guy potentially hijacked a plane, got 200 grand in cash then got away, 45 years later they have GIVEN UP TRYING TO FIND HIM. That's a bug deal in my books. A Very big deal. Anyhoo, it was Jimmy James, case closed
      • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:07AM (#52502907)

        He also used a parachute to escape and had a lot of knowledge on how to actually open a commercial airlines doors IN FLIGHT.

        From wikipedia:

        The FBI task force believes that Cooper was a careful and shrewd planner. He demanded four parachutes to force the assumption that he might compel one or more hostages to jump with him, thus ensuring he would not be deliberately supplied with sabotaged equipment.[105] He chose a 727-100 aircraft because it was ideal for a bail-out escape, due not only to its aft airstair, but also the high, aftward placement of all three engines, which allowed a reasonably safe jump without risk of immediate incineration by jet exhaust. It had "single-point fueling" capability, a recent innovation that allowed all tanks to be refueled rapidly through a single fuel port. It also had the ability (unusual for a commercial jet airliner) to remain in slow, low-altitude flight without stalling; and Cooper knew how to control its air speed and altitude without entering the cockpit, where he could have been overpowered by the three pilots.[106] In addition, Cooper was familiar with important details, such as the appropriate flap setting of 15 degrees (which was unique to that aircraft), and the typical refueling time. He knew that the aft airstair could be lowered during flight—a fact never disclosed to civilian flight crews, since there was no situation on a passenger flight that would make it necessary—and that its operation, by a single switch in the rear of the cabin, could not be overridden from the cockpit.[107] He may even have known that the Central Intelligence Agency had been using 727s to drop agents and supplies behind enemy lines during the Vietnam War.[108]

        • He also used a parachute to escape and had a lot of knowledge on how to actually open a commercial airlines doors IN FLIGHT.

          All of this is why my theory is he was in cahoots with all but one of the rest of the flight crew that stayed on board. They chucked the odd man out the door and DB took his place.

        • by Areyoukiddingme ( 1289470 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @03:22PM (#52505469)

          He also used a parachute to escape and had a lot of knowledge on how to actually open a commercial airlines doors IN FLIGHT.

          From wikipedia: ...

          Given all that, it's fairly obvious. D.B. Cooper was an ex-CIA agent arranging his own retirement. Guess the pension wasn't enough for his taste.

        • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
          one thing I always wondered is why did he choose the worst rig to jump, the Navy NB-8. Too lazy to read the details but didn't they provide a Paracommander? Of course he would not know what is packed inside (I'm sure it wasn't laundry as they want to capture him alive), probably a T10 but at least grab a rig that is the more comfortable such as the B-4 container?
      • by Ihlosi ( 895663 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:23AM (#52502937)
        This guy potentially hijacked a plane, got 200 grand in cash then got away, 45 years later they have GIVEN UP TRYING TO FIND HIM.

        What's the statute of limitations on the crimes the guy allegedly committed?

        • by guruevi ( 827432 )

          There is none because the FBI started prosecution so it wouldn't expire.

          • Started prosecution on who? They don't even really know who he is.

            • by Whorhay ( 1319089 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @09:13AM (#52503247)

              The statute of limitations isn't an escape clause for law breakers, it is meant as a means to prevent prosecutors from delaying prosecution unreasonably or using it as a kind of blackmail. It basically says, you knew about this for X amount of time and couldn't be bothered to do anything about it so the court can't take you seriously. In many cases the clock doesn't start ticking on the statute until someone is aware the crime was committed.

              • I'd imagine the authorities were aware of the crime shortly after it was committed. There are crimes that come to light years after commission, but this isn't one of them.

              • by Ihlosi ( 895663 )
                In many cases the clock doesn't start ticking on the statute until someone is aware the crime was committed.

                Well, at least in this case it was quite clear that a crime was committed, and when.

                At least in criminal law, the statue of limitations is also meant to prevent law enforcement (and hence, taypayer-funded) resources from getting tied up by prosecuting crimes probably won't get solved or that are so far in the past and not serious enough to warrant decades-long prosecution.

        • 5 years, but they got around that with a "John Doe" warrant.

        • What's the statute of limitations on the crimes the guy allegedly committed?

          Some person definitely committed the crimes; "allegedly" is only used when you have a particular person charged with, but not yet convicted of, said crimes.
          I don't think there's a statute of limitations on hijacking a commercial flight.

      • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:41AM (#52502993)

        It was always big from a "mystery" perspective, but the circumstances of his jump have always made it extremely unlikely that he survived -- jumping into -70F windchill air, into a wilderness area, at night, without anything more protective than a suit and raincoat.

        The big mysteries seem to be identifying who he was and what happened to the body, parachute and the money. Some decayed packets of money were found, but that seems to lead more credence to the theory that the jump/landing/escape was a failure.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          He bailed at 10000 feet so any wind chill would have been very brief and -70F is an exaggeration of the temperature extreme. This guy meticulously planned every step of this adventure so I doubt he didn't have several different bail out locations planned in advance. The small packet of money found years later could have also been left behind on purpose to keep searchers in a single location while giving himself more time to put more distance between him and the searchers.

          • by Zocalo ( 252965 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @09:42AM (#52503381) Homepage
            Further, given the obviously meticulous planning, don't you think it likely he might also have considered what to wear during the jump and maximise the chances of a safe landing? He could quite easily have brought more appropriate clothing than what the crew and passengers saw him wearing and changed once he was alone in the cabin prior to the actual jump, taking everything else like his coat along for the ride to remove evidence - he even took back the note he passed the stewardess afterall. Still, given that none of the bank notes have ever been identified apart from those three bundles and there has been no plausible death bed confessions or similar, either he managed to pass them into circulation very carefully (a few at a time in overseas bureau de change, perhaps?) which seems unlikely, or he did indeed die in the attempt.
          • by swb ( 14022 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @09:54AM (#52503445)

            Assuming he survived the jump (using one of the oldest of the 4 parachutes he got) in what amounts to ordinary street clothes, how does he survive a hike out of the wilderness in November in a raincoat and loafers, likely at least pretty damp if not wet from atmospheric condensation? Even if he landed completely dry, you're talking a high risk of hypothermia dressed that way in November navigating miles of wilderness.

            However well he planned it, there's no way he managed to hit a narrow drop zone where he might have staged survival gear -- his potential drop zone would have been miles wide jumping in the dark and without any decent navigational clues as to where to jump.

            The larger mystery is why his body or chute were never found, but these seem more likely to be side effects of a potentially large search area than a successful landing and evasion.

            • Even if he landed completely dry, you're talking a high risk of hypothermia dressed that way in November navigating miles of wilderness.

              Around the seattle area, november might be +5 degrees, even could be as high as +10. It very rarely would drop below -5. And if it was a dry night, he would have no problem surviving i would think.

            • If I were in his place, and the FBI handed me non-matching parachutes, I'd assume that they assumed I'd want to use the best parachute of the bunch - so that one is quite possibly sabotaged and will fail to open. So I'd not use that one. I'd use one of the others.

        • by RDW ( 41497 )

          Some decayed packets of money were found, but that seems to lead more credence to the theory that the jump/landing/escape was a failure.

          That's probably why he left them there, before continuing with the next phase of his escape plan...

        • It was always big from a "mystery" perspective, but the circumstances of his jump have always made it extremely unlikely that he survived -- jumping into -70F windchill air, into a wilderness area, at night, without anything more protective than a suit and raincoat.

          The big mysteries seem to be identifying who he was and what happened to the body, parachute and the money. Some decayed packets of money were found, but that seems to lead more credence to the theory that the jump/landing/escape was a failure.

          It's pretty damn cold when you sky dive. For all of a minute. In my experience, your adrenaline rushes to the point where you only feel the cold for a few seconds. Granted, I've only jumped during the day, but I warmed up rather quickly and actually feel that the ascent in an uninsulated fuselage is far more uncomfortable (cold) than the actual jump itself.

        • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

          Considering how meticulously he must have planned the whole thing I doubt he would have neglected to consider the jump, landing and subsequent escape. He had the foresight to request multiple parachutes (to prevent tampering, in case he forced one of the crew to use one), and to learn some quite specific things about how the aircraft operated and how to get the rear door to open with it flying at low speed and altitude.

          It's possible something went wrong, but there is so little evidence that it's all just sp

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          by Anonymous Coward

          I've got a friend with 4000+ jumps under his belt, and he was part of an exhibition jump back in the 80's in which 100 skydivers recreated this jump (same height, velocity, equipment, but not at night). He tells me that the older equipment would actually be better for this type of jump into a forested region, because those old chutes had a much lower lateral velocity. He believes at night it would be survivable, but would carry the risk that the jumper wouldn't have great control over precisely where they

          • by Calydor ( 739835 )

            What if he'd prepared a spotlight of some sort to aim for?

            • Or had co-criminals on the ground, with a rented helicopter?

            • by swb ( 14022 )

              I'm not sure how he would have coordinated any potential landing zone with the actual location of the plane when he jumped. It probably would have required a skilled air navigator with access to VOR equipment in the 1970s to time a night jump correctly to have much hope of landing close to a planned target.

              Just jumping out the back and hoping you had it timed right? He could be off by miles without knowing the plane's specific heading and airspeed. The heading might have been guessable if the plane was f

              • by Calydor ( 739835 )

                TFS mentions he jumped shortly after takeoff, so the margin of error isn't too great. It would increase exponentially the longer they were in the air, true, but if he jumped, say, 15 minutes after takeoff the variation wouldn't be incredibly great - especially if he had a helper on the ground that could come pick him up.

                Still, I'm sure the FBI have gone over all those theories in the past 45 years, this is just off the top of my head movie-plot thinking.

              • He was very familiar with the design of the plane - knowing about the door that could open in flight, flap configuration and minimum speed. This suggests that he had ties to aviation - so it's possible he was in contact with a skilled navigator. Might even be an insider, someone working at ATC.

                Yes, he probably died from the jump. Probably. But not certainly. He might have had associates on the ground ready to search for him. So it's possible he escaped, and people do love a story of a daring criminal who be

        • But the area was searched thoroughly. No body found.

    • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:30AM (#52502957)

      I appreciate the concise summary, since most times I've tried to look this up the articles just go on and on about it... "What was the big deal?" I would say as I read them, but this was the one question which they were apparently unwilling to answer. Turns out it wasn't a big deal, just a bunch of news fluff.

      "Wasn't a big deal"??

      A guy hijacks a plane under threat of an (apparent) bomb, takes over a million dollars in cash (in today's dollars) in exchange for hostages, and then parachutes out, and this "wasn't a big deal"?

      Even if your standards of "big deal" are low enough that this wouldn't seem noteworthy, the case is also notable for the roughly 15 copycat hijackings it caused within the next year (also people extorting money on planes, requesting parachutes, etc.).

      Ultimately, this case (and the copycats) led to the institution of universal luggage searching on flights, the first step down the slippery slope to voiding the 4th amendment as we've seen with the TSA in recent years. Arguably, these cursory searches (for bombs, other explosive devices, and major weapons) were necessary to prevent the nearly weekly hijackings that were going on. But if nothing else, this case is notable for a string of hijackings contributing to setting us on that path. (Note there were other high-profile incidents requesting passage to Cuba that also contributed to the new search policy, but weekly demands for million-dollar ransoms must have also made an impact.)

      Also, obligatory xkcd [xkcd.com].

      • I think the argument is government resources would be of better use on crimes not approaching the half century mark.

      • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

        I guess I do not see this as being news for nerds but then a lot of Slashdot is not really news for Nerds anymore. I expect to see baseball scores to be the next addition to Slashdot.

        • This is an otaku. There are people downright obsessed over DB Cooper- and that makes it nerdy.

          • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

            Still? Maybe back in the 70s but today I doubt that most people know anything about it.

            • It's the basis of the plot of the movie "Without a Paddle" so a few tens of millions of stoners, at least, are aware of D.B. Cooper... though them probably aren't aware that he's not just fiction...
              • by LWATCDR ( 28044 )

                Never heard about that movie. Well it is 12 years old and got under 20% on Rotten Tomatoes so their is probably a pretty good reason.

                • For a medicocre Hollywood flick, the plot contains some fairly-funny scenes and there are some really good lines; I consider imdb's rating of 5.9 to be a bit unfair... just be careful; there's a "sequel" (UK version of the film) that looks particularly shitty, though I haven't actually seen it.
            • I was amazed too, but in honor of the FBI closing the case, History Channel brought us a new investigator with a new theory and a new suspect and 95 pieces of circumstantial evidence that he's spent his life collecting over the past 6 years. The FBI's answer to him? Unless you have found money or a parachute, we don't want to talk to you.

  • actually he may be the smartest one of the lot

  • Legacy (Score:5, Informative)

    by Richard_at_work ( 517087 ) <{richardprice} {at} {gmail.com}> on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @06:49AM (#52502879)

    This incident forced the FAA to issue a requirement to Boeing, Douglas and all US 727 and DC-9 operators to add a "Cooper vane" to the rear air stairs to prevent them being opened when the aircraft was moving.

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

    • Wikipedia mentions there were three hijackings which somehow used this door, but doesn't provide details on the other two other than it was in 1972.
      • The copycat hijackings [wikipedia.org] section of the main wiki article lists 5 people who also hijacked the plane and used this stairway to escape (4 727s, 1 DC-9). So yeah, I can see why the FAA required the Cooper vane be added.
  • by Quinn_Inuit ( 760445 ) <Quinn_Inuit@yah[ ]com ['oo.' in gap]> on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:10AM (#52502915)

    I know some people [xkcd.com] believe he resurfaced years later as an auteur, but I don't buy it. Everyone knows he really died fighting Sasquatch [imdb.com] to protect a bunch of hot, shirtless young men.

  • They think they found him and want to watch if his behaviour changes when they announce that they stopped looking for him.

    So if the FBI are watching you, keep doing whatever you were doing, don't change ANYTHING right now, or they'll pounce.

  • by Ecuador ( 740021 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @07:38AM (#52502989) Homepage

    If they want to solve it, they just need to issue a pardon. I mean, other people steal millions via various (much less "direct") means and just hide for a few years for the statute of limitations and they are free (rich) men. For this guy, who I'd say really "worked" for it, they started prosecution in absentia so that he can be caught at any time in the future.
    We don't care about the $200k he stole - in fact the cost of the investigation should have run up multiple times that - but the public wants to know if he made it! And whether it will be shot with IMAX cameras!

    • If they want to solve it, they just need to issue a pardon.

      Very unlikely to do the trick even if they did it. Given Cooper's estimated age at the time (mid 40s) he's most likely dead. In fact, I'd argue that the fact that the money was never recovered except for a small amount of decayed bills found around 1980 means that he didn't survive the jump. If Cooper did survive and is still alive, he'd be approximately 90 years old. Since the vast majority of the bills have never been found or spent, that might mean that he was too afraid of being caught to ever spend

      • by bmk67 ( 971394 )

        I'd argue that the fact that the money was never recovered except for a small amount of decayed bills found around 1980 means that he didn't survive the jump.

        ...or he didn't give a shit about the money. Or it was lost during the jump. Or one of a number of other possibilities.

        Considering that the decayed bills were found 9 years after the hijacking *upstream* from where he is thought to have jumped, I'd say it's not a safe to assume he didn't survive. That's part of what makes this case such a mystery.

      • We don't know if they where ever spent. It's not like the FBI screen them all, there are probably billions of bills in circulation and US dollars can be used as payable currency in many countries.
    • by k6mfw ( 1182893 )
      They missed a couple opportunities to get fingerprints. In Bernie Rhodes book, "DB Cooper: The Real McCoy" mentions Cooper offered one of the stewardess a bundle of dollars from the ransom money as a tip, she turned it down in disgust (crap, that could have had his fingerprints for FBI if she took it). And another from that book is when FBI began detailed inspection for prints, "oh he was reading magazines, his seat is 18C, just grab those and dust them" (crap, airliner people cleaned out the trash and stuf
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The dude was probably picked up by an alien spacecraft as he was parachuting down to earth.

  • I thought we had confirmation...

  • My vote is Todd Snider
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CxJUVgN8kG8

  • by trazom28 ( 134909 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @09:51AM (#52503427)

    There was this article [dailymail.co.uk] from back in 2011 which a woman in Oregon claimed it was her Uncle, who had died in 1999. I don't know if it was ever proven or not.

  • And that's no mean feat considering I wasn't allowed to cross the street back then.

  • Pacific Northwest. Night. Ursus arctos horribilis [wikipedia.org]. Cooper is fossilized bear droppings. The moldy money was spit out 'cause it taste bad.

    • by bmk67 ( 971394 )

      There are precisely zero grizzly bears in that area.

    • Pacific Northwest. Night. Ursus arctos horribilis [wikipedia.org]. Cooper is fossilized bear droppings. The moldy money was spit out 'cause it taste bad.

      Except that, as the article you link states, there are only 10-20 brown bears in the region in present day, after decades of conservation work and the US government reintroducing the species to the area. He'd be more likely to die from failing to see a clear landing spot, breaking his leg and then starving to death.

      • He planned every detail of the hijacking, so it seems unlikely he would fail to plan the escape as well. I'm speculating an accomplice on the ground. They could listen to the aircraft radio to determine when he jumped, or have him jump at an agreed-upon time - that'd get them an approximate location. Then a rented helicopter to search for the chute as soon as dawn broke. Or a truck and a flare gun - they launch, he heads for the flares. It explains why no parachute has ever been found.

  • I did it (Score:5, Interesting)

    by k6mfw ( 1182893 ) on Wednesday July 13, 2016 @02:16PM (#52505107)

    Jumped from a 727 at World FreeFall Convention in Quincy IL a few times during 1990s. They issued DB Cooper numbers with a certificate. Though not in order of who went out the back but in order of when 727 jump tickets were purchased. I got #54 in 1992, I also wore a black suit with thin black tie, sunglasses, wingtip shoes, and white socks. The "costume" got lots of laughs. When people ask, I answered, "sorry I lost the money but I put together a 4-way."

    Unlike other jump planes, this was moving at 150 mph (flaps down) normally king airs and otters move about 90 or 100. So when hitting the air out the air stair you get instant control. Some jumpers of more skill exit into a track position and are able to rise just above level of the 727 tail.

    One year Bernie Rhodes who wrote a book about Richard McCoy who did same as DB Cooper, same MO and jumped with $500K but caught few days later. I got his autograph and picture with him in my DB Cooper costume. Mentioned in this book was McCoy had problem with $500K, that's a lot of cash that has to be hidden someplace in or around his house (not as easy as you think). Of course I'm thinking $200K, $500K or even One Million Dollars is not a lot these days. The book was very compelling, Bernie Rhodes a DOJ probation officer at the time felt McCoy would have probably confessed he was DB, McCoy died shortly after when escaped from prison. Supposably Rhodes theory didn't hold up because FBI got evidence of a phone call made by McCoy from another city while DB hijacked his 727.

    Bernie Rhodes also said many prisoners in captive would come forward confessing they were DB Cooper. Bernie would ask questions like what kind of tie clasp did they wear and other details not in the media. Huh, why would anyone confess to a serious crime like a skyjack. Bernie said many of these people were in prison for more serious crimes, skyjacking would be less punishment (I'm still confused how it can be less).

    Also back in 1990s there was a downtown lounge (loud music and very crowded) called DB Cooper with a manniquen as DB hanging from the ceiling. Those were the days when we laughed about airplane hijackings.

  • As soon as they heard, congressional Republicans have called for a committee to investigate if Hillary Clinton was D.B. Cooper.

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