An amateur research group have announced they have found some clues to the D.B. Cooper hijacking of a Northwest Orient Boeing 727 plane in 1971. Now they need some help from the public in order to finally solve this case. What is the new information and who can help this group?
— Nick Crounse (@n_crou) January 15, 2017
According to the Washington television station King5, some new clues to the unsolved D.B. Cooper hijacking have been uncovered using very modern technology. The Seattle FBI appointed research group called Citizen Sleuths have taken the JCPenney clip-on tie worn by D.B. Cooper and had it analyzed.
— SMU_GIS (@SMU_GIS) December 19, 2016
Using a electron microscope, the team found over 100,000 particles on the tie including Cerium, Strontium Sulfide and pure titanium. The team did not mention the name of any other particles found on the tie, instead focusing on these three particles that the powerful microscope found. This is important because during this time, very few people worked near these elements, according to lead researcher Tom Kaye.
“These are what they call rare earth elements. They’re used in very narrow fields, for very specific things.”
The website goes into more detail about the significance of the tie.
“A tie is one of the only articles of clothing that isn’t washed on a regular basis. It picks up dirt and grime just like any other piece of clothing, but that accumulation never truly gets ‘reset’ in the washing machine. Each of those particles comes from something and somewhere and can tell a story if the proper instruments like electron microscopes are used.”
On the website, the team wonders if perhaps D.B. Cooper had worked for Boeing or was a contractor for the aeronautics company. Titanium was used in the Super Sonic Transport plane.
“Titanium was a rare metal in 1971 and this makes it extremely unlikely it is a post-event contamination. Its presence constrains Cooper to a limited number of managers or engineers in the titanium field that would wear ties to work.
Kaye went into further detail and into the train of thought of the investigators.
“The tie went with him into these manufacturing environments, for sure, so he was not one of the people running these (manufacturing machines). He was either an engineer or a manager in one of the plants.”
Now the research team is asking for the public’s help. They believe that someone will read about the three elements found and know exactly what the project was and perhaps even who could be D.B.Cooper.
“Someone may be able to look at those particles and say ‘Oh my gosh. I know what that means having those particles on the tie.”
The unsolved case occurred 45-years ago. The hijacking occurred on the 30-minute flight between the two northwest cities of Portland, Oregon and Seattle, Washington on the eve of Thanksgiving. Flight 305 was two-thirds full when Dan Cooper approached a flight attendant with a note that he had a bomb and was hijacking the plane. Eventually, he was given the $200,000 (worth over $1.2 million now) that he requested, as well as four parachutes. He then let all of the passengers off of the plane.
— god of thunder (@1stgodofthunder) December 16, 2016
The 727 then took off with only the plane’s crew. The plane was to fly between Seattle and Mexico City and the pilots were instructed to fly low in the sky. This required a fuel stop in Reno and Cooper agreed with this. The flight conditions were challenging as the wings and windows were rapidly taking on ice. Not long after the flight took off, Cooper, with the assistance of a flight attendant, dramatically descended down the stairs of the 727, into the forest, never to be seen of again.
Less than a decade later, just under six thousand dollars were found by a young boy along the shores of the Columbia River. Throughout the years many suspects have been investigated, but no one was ever charged. This cold case has totally stumped the FBI.
It was just six months ago that the FBI issued a statement as to why they are closing the 45-year-old cold case. In this announcement, they claim they “exhaustively reviewed all credible leads”
“Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history, on July 8, 2016, the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities. During the course of the 45-year NORJAK investigation, the FBI exhaustively reviewed all credible leads, coordinated between multiple field offices to conduct searches, collected all available evidence, and interviewed all identified witnesses. Over the years, the FBI has applied numerous new and innovative investigative techniques, as well as examined countless items at the FBI Laboratory. Evidence obtained during the course of the investigation will now be preserved for historical purposes at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.”
As of now, there is no expectation that the FBI will reopen this case. There has been no comment from the agency about the latest discovery.
Writing about the History Channel special, D.B. Cooper: Case Closed?, People chronicled a pair of men who found 93 pieces of evidence that they claim means that Robert Rackstraw, was D.B. Cooper. Tina Mucklow, the flight attendant that spent many hours speaking to the hijacker looked at photos of Rackstraw, as well as a tape of him speaking and concluded he was not the man she knew as D.B. Cooper.
The magazine also spoke to the FBI’s media coordinator Ayn Dietrich-Williams. It appears that only the discovery of the parachute or the money would cause the FBI to reopen their files. There was no mention of modern technology uncovering such elements on Cooper’s tie.
“Should specific physical evidence emerge – related specifically to the parachutes or the money taken by the hijacker – individuals with those materials are asked to contact their local FBI field office.”
Do you think the FBI should reopen the case of D.B. Cooper, or do you think that they should leave this old case unsolved and deal with more current cases?
[Featured Image by Ethan Miller/Getty Images]