The other piece of evidence Cooper definitely did touch were eight Raleigh filter-tipped cigarette butts, found by agents in the ashtray of row 18, where he was sitting. These cigarettes were crucial for [current case agent Larry Carr] to test because they would not only have fingerprints on them — prints that were definitely Cooper’s — but they would also contain traces of saliva.
The problem, Carr found, was that it was unclear where the cigarette butts were — perhaps in Reno, where the plane landed, or FBI headquarters in Las Vegas, or Quantico, where they were initially tested in the early 1970’s. Without the butts, there was no DNA evidence — even a faint trace of saliva discovered on the clip-on tie the hijacker left behind wasn’t a big enough sample, Carr said, to identify his precise genetic code.
Unexplained so far: did Cooper drool on his tie, or just lick it for good luck before jumping?
Also unexplained: the FBI had eight cigarette butts and they lost them? All eight? Who was running the show back then? (Oh, right.)
Gray has a new book coming out next week: SKYJACK: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper. He must be loving the timing.
See our biography of D.B. Cooper >>