Tuesday, 24 November 2015

The Cooper Mystery

As it is the anniversary of the D.B. Cooper hijacking today, I thought it fitting that I write something to enlighten you about a mystery that is quickly being forgotten.

As I said, most people appear to have forgotten the D.B. Cooper hijacking that took place on November 24, 1971. Allow me to summarise the event for you:

On November 24, 1971, a man identifying himself only as 'Dan Cooper' got on a Boeing 727 flight in
Portland, Oregon. He sat in the back row of the plane. After sitting through around half the flight, his face hidden by his dark sunglasses, he called over a stewardess and handed her a note, stating that he had a bomb and was taking over the plane. He said he wanted $200,000 in twenty dollar bills and both a front and a back parachute. Upon receiving these items he proceed to let the passengers off the plane, and then take off again. Then he jumped out of the plane. Despite all the massive searches and investigations that have been done, a small portion of that money has ever been found, and Cooper was never caught.

I left out a few details there, but for good reason. I want to show you how they tie in to the investigation. For starters,  the FBI  found the tie that Cooper was wearing when he got on the plane. They searched it for DNA but somehow found none until recently. So that was one lead that was useless. Another thing that was very important in the Cooper investigation was the parachutes he requested. He requested two very specific military grade parachutes. But despite how this narrowed down the list of suspects, the FBI could not pin down the jumper.

The FBI has a massive file on Cooper, stored in a case over 40 feet long. They are sifting through over 1,000 suspects, trying to find a man they know very little about. Their most promising lead, though one they refuse to consider, is a case built by a woman named Jo Webber. Webbers' husband Duanne confessed to  the hijacking on his deathbed and Jo has spent the years since then trying to prove it. If the Cooper case interests you I recommend you look into the case she has compiled.
The main problem with the FBI's case  is that they have ignored several important witnesses from on the plane. There were several people on the plane who were never interviewed by the FBI's investigation team. And by doing this they left out what could be crucial evidence. Other people have gone and found these witnesses in order to conduct interviews with them, but the FBI has never bothered to do the same.

I said before that only a small portion of the ransom money Cooper took was every found. To be more precise, exactly $5800 has been recovered. It was found in a small river near Vancouver, Washington by an 8 year old boy named Brian Ingram. The bills were brought to the FBI and shown to be legitimate. The FBI took possession of the bills, but Brians' family, believing that the bills were rightfully theirs, spent years in court with the FBI, only to win back a small portion of the bills.
Another interesting thing about the Cooper case is how his name came to be. When the hijacker bought his ticket for the flight that he took control of, he identified himself as Dan Cooper. After an extensive search it was found that the name may have come from the french comic book about a military parachutist named Dan Cooper. But for those of you that have already heard of the case, you will also recognise the hijacker as D.B. Cooper. This is because at the very beginning of the case a reporter misheard the FBI agent he was interviewing and published the name as D.B. rather than Dan Cooper,  and  the name stuck.

Cooper was very likely killed during the jump, seeing as he jumped from 10,000 feet and was wearing clothing that were not suitable for the storm he was in. Assumed to have fallen into the forest around his jump site, no sign of his body was every found.

If Cooper is still out there, maybe (but not likely) reading this very post, I must congratulate him on his jump. I am in no way condoning what he did, but what he did, he did well. Anyone who can do what he did has intelligence and self-discipline to be admired.

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  1. In Prison Break (Season 1) Michael is convinced that one of his inmates is Dan Cooper (the old guy that dies at the escape)