It's not hard to reason this one but you migh...
D.B. Cooper is the alias of a man no one has seen since he committed what many regard as a a perfect crime and whose status has remain unknown for over 3 decades. Yet he left behind a legacy that inspired many theory-filled books and wild speculation about his identity, motivations and fate.
The Early Days
Considering the FBI are still clueless about his identity, there's not much to go on here. Either way, most criminologists and FBI agents believe he must have been (for the most part) a law-abiding citizen or even a member of a law-enforcement agency who lived a fairly ordinary life before he committed his shocking crime.
So what exactly happened? In 1971, a man using the alias of Daniel Cooper boarded a plane from Portland to Seattle, Oregon; shortly after takeoff, told a air hostess that he had a bomb in his bag. He asked the pilot to tell the airline that he wanted $200,000 in unmarked 20-dollar bills and four parachutes ready for him at Seattle in exchange for letting all the passengers go. The airline complied, and after releasing the passengers, he had the Boeing 727 refueled and ordered the pilot to set course for Mexico City.
He then proceeded to leap right out of the airborne 727 with the cash and 2 parachutes strapped to his body. And that's the last anyone's ever heard of him!
One of the largest manhunts in American history failed to turn up any trace of the mysterious hijacker. Nine years later, a family camping out in the woods discovered about $5000 of the ransom amount on a riverbank, and the bills were confirmed to be the same ones handed over to Cooper at the Seattle airport.
Several people have been considered as possible suspects but none have been linked conclusively to the crime. Here are some of the most prominent:
John List: This accountant and World War 2 Veteran murdered his wife and 3 children and ended up withdrawing $200,000 dollars from his mother’s bank account just 15 days before the incident. The FBI thought that they had their man but discarded that theory after some investigation.
Barbara Dayton: Originally a man, Dayton was a pilot in World War II who was refused a commercial pilot license and worked with explosives too. After undergoing a sex change, she admitted to having hijacked the plane ‘disguised as a man’ and stashing the money somewhere in Oregon. Eventually she recanted the whole story, confirming the FBI's belief that she was just after the attention her disclosure would bring.
Many others such as Jack Coffelt (an ex-conman) and Ted Mayfield tried to admit to the crime as well, but the FBI dismissed their claims as well.
A man named Lyle Christiansen remains convinced that his older brother Kenneth, who died of cancer in 1994, was DB Cooper, pointing to his experience as a paratrooper, his fascination with that particular airline, and the fact he bought a home using cash soon after the incident, in addition to several other pieces of evidence. Lyle also believes that his brother made a deathbed confession, saying "There is something you should know, but I cannot tell you." The FBI, however, does not consider Kenneth Christiansen a credible suspect.
DB Cooper changed air travel forever. Security was instituted in airports soon after his crime, and the US government introduced the Sky Marshal program the very next year in a bid to prevent a repeat of the incident. Still, over copycats tried to emulate Cooper's crime--and every single one of them was caught soon after.
As for Cooper, the FBI file on him is still active, and the agency is still pursuing leads related to the case. Some believe that he never survived the jump, while others maintain that he hopped across the border and retired into obscurity in Mexico. Whatever his fate, one thing is certain: the legend of DB Cooper lives on.
-Pictures courtesy Reuters-
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