It has been 45 years since ‘DB Cooper’ hijacked a plane and then parachuted into the woods somewhere around the border of Oregon and Washington with $200,000, never to be heard from or seen again.
Now, after decades of work and countless tips, the FBI has announced they are no longer investigating the case, saying on Monday that they have exhausted all leads.
That means that one of the greatest mysteries in American history will likely remain unsolved, and that the identity of the man behind the brazen air heist will forever be unknown.
‘Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history, on July 8, 2016, the FBI redirected resources allocated to the “DB Cooper” case, in order to focus on other investigative priorities,’ said FBI spokesperson Ayn Dietrich-Williams in a statement.
‘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.’
The statement ended however with the law enforcement agency noting: ‘Although the FBI will no longer actively investigate this case, 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.’
On November 24, 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper bought a ticket at Portland International Airport in Oregon and boarded a Northwest Orient Airlines Flight 305 to Seattle, Washington.
Cooper was later described by passengers and the crew as being in his mid-forties and just under 6feet tall, wearing a dark suit and black necktie with loafers and a raincoat.
Once the plane took off, he ordered a bourbon and lit a cigarette before casually handing flight attendant Florence Schaffner a note.
Schaffner later told the FBI that she did not look at the note until Cooper whispered to her: ‘Miss, you’d better look at that note. I have a bomb.’
She could not remember that exact wording but said that there were a mention of a bomb and that she sat down next to Cooper, who opened his briefcase and showed her that it was filled with red cylinders which were attached to wires.
He then told her his demands.
Cooper asked for $200,000, four parachutes and a fuel truck to be waiting on the runway when the flight landed in Seattle.
Schaffner conveyed his demands to the cockpit and the plane then circled the area for two hours so police and the FBI could gather Cooper’s money and parachutes.
When the plane landed an employee of Northwest brought Cooper 10,000 unmarked 20-dollar bills and four parachutes in a knapsack, at which point the 36 passengers and Schaffner were allowed off the plane.
While that aircraft was refueling Cooper told the crew that they were to fly to Reno at an altitude of no more than 10,000 feet and a the slowest possible speed that would still keep the plane airborne.
The plane took off again at 7:40pm, two hours after landing, and Cooper ordered the members of the crew who were still on board to gather in the cockpit with the door close.
Three planes followed behind, but a little over 20 minutes after the plane left Seattle a red light alerted the crew that the back hatch had been opened on the plane and Cooper was gone.
Once the plane landed in Reno the FBI dusted for fingerprints and collected the parachute and tie that Cooper left behind.
They then began to speak with all those who had seen the man to get an idea of what he looked like.
Both Schaffner and flight attendant Tina Mucklow, who had stayed on the plane when it took off from Seattle again with Cooper, had nothing but nice things to say about the criminal.
‘He seemed rather nice. He was never cruel or nasty. He was thoughtful and calm all the time,’ said Mucklow.
What followed was one of the most extensive searched in FBI history, which turned up nothing, not even a single trace of the man.
In the years following the hijacking the serial numbers on the bills given to Cooper were also released, but there were never any matches.
It was almost nine years before there was a break in the case, which came in February 1980 when 8-year-old Brian Abrams found some of the money that had been given to Cooper.
While on vacation with his family in Washington the young boy discovered three bundles of cash while searching for firewood to build a campfire.
It was unclear how the money got there, and since that time the other 9,710 other bills and parachutes have never been found.
Many in the FBI believe that Cooper would have been unable to survive his jump, which would explain the fact that he has never been apprehended and one of the money was ever fiound in circulation.