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FBI gives up on mysterious skyjacking case

July 13, 2016

Forty five years ago, a man known as DB Cooper jumped out of a hijacked airplane with a parachute and ransom money. The FBI is finally giving up trying to solve the mysterious case.

Flugzeugentführer D.B. Cooper von 1971
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo

One of the United States' most intriguing crime mysteries - the case of a hijacker who jumped out of a plane into the night with a parachute and ransom money -- will likely remain unsolved after a 45-year investigation.

The FBI's Seattle field office on Tuesday said it would no longer actively investigate the DB Cooper case after conducting "one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history."

The FBI received hundreds of tips and leads, whittled down a list of hundreds of suspects but was never able to find the mysterious man who boldly jumped out of a plane with ransom money, triggering years of speculation about his identity and fate.

It said it had to finally drop the case and "focus on other investigative priorities."

On November 24, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper and later became known as DB Cooper bought a one-way plane ticket for $20 cash to take a Northwest Orient airlines Boeing 727 flight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle, Washington.

Wearing shades, a suit, white shirt and black tie, the man in his mid-40s boarded the plane and ordered a bourbon and soda while the flight was waiting to take off.

Once in the air, Cooper handed the stewardess a note that read, "Miss, I have a bomb and would like you to sit by me."

He showed the stewardess a mass of wires and red sticks inside a briefcase and demanded she write something down.

She then gave to the pilot a note demanding four parachutes and $200,000.

When the flight landed in Seattle, Cooper let 36 passengers go in exchange for the ransom money and parachutes. He kept a few of the flight attendants and pilots hostage and demanded the plane take him to Mexico.

At night, somewhere over what is believed to have been southwest Washington, Cooper jumped out of the back of the plane at a low altitude of 10,000 feet (3,000 meters) with the parachute and money.

Cooper was never found, fueling a host of theories about his identity and fate. Some believe he may have perished in the wilderness, others that he was any number of suspects that popped up over the years. Maybe he survived, having gotten away with an impossible skyjacking.

The theory that he died gained traction after a boy in 1980 found a rotting package of twenty-dollar bills while digging on a beach along the Columbia River. The serial number of the bills, about $6,000 in all, matched the ransom money.

Evidence from the case will be sent to FBI headquarters in Washington, DC, for historical purposes.

The FBI said it would only look at specific physical evidence related to the parachute or the ransom money should it emerge.

cw/kl (AFP, AP)

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