The Who2 Blog

D.B. Cooper is Dead… To the FBI

Photo of D.B. Cooper

The D.B. Cooper case is closed for good, the FBI announced today. After 45 years, the lawmen are admitting defeat and calling it quits:

“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…”

“In order to solve a case, the FBI must prove culpability beyond a reasonable doubt, and, unfortunately, none of the well-meaning tips or applications of new investigative technology have yielded the necessary proof. Every time the FBI assesses additional tips for the NORJAK case, investigative resources and manpower are diverted from programs that more urgently need attention.”

NORJAK, for those in the know, stands for “Northwest hijacking.” It was a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle that Dan Cooper boarded in November of 1971. (The “D.B.” name was a news reporter’s mistake that stuck.)


Wearing a black clip-on tie from J.C. Penney, Cooper ordered a bourbon and soda, lit a Raleigh, and then handed the flight attendant a note reading “Miss, I have a bomb here. I want you to sit by me.”

After collecting $200,000 in twenties and four parachutes in Seattle, Cooper jumped off back stairs of the Boeing 727 and into history. He was never caught, his body has never turned up, and nobody knows if he lived or died.


The only clue, $5800 of his cash that turned up in 1980, turned out to be a dead end as well. It was Cooper’s money, all right, but there was no other sign of Cooper.

Somewhere a man is living high on the hog on $194,200.

You’ve got to feel for the FBI: every time they’ve tried to let the case go, amateur sleuths have arrived to stir it back up again. This week the History Channel ran a show called D.B. Cooper: Case Closed? that hinted heavily that Cooper might be Robert Rackstraw, a 72-year-old in San Diego with a yacht named Poverty Sucks. But— surprise!— in the end the History Channel didn’t actually crack the case. Nobody ever has.

So the FBI is out of the D.B. Cooper business once and for all, right? Not quite! Per the release:

“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.”

So there’s hope after all. D.B. Cooper lives!

(Thanks to Mr. Duffy for inspiration on this post.)

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