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Mystery lovers, rejoice: D.B. Cooper legend lives on

August 9, 2011 | 11:04 am

The_one_that_got_away The FBI says DNA testing has failed to conclusively link a potential new suspect to the D.B. Cooper hijacking case. But then again, test results haven't exactly ruled out a link, either.

And that's good news for mystery lovers: It might have been a little disappointing if the tests had shut the lid on one of the most tantalizing cases in U.S. law enforcement. On Twitter, Brad Meltzer, author and host of History Channel's mystery-cracking "Decoded," remarked on the news: "D.B. Cooper just keeps getting better, right?"

To this day, the case of D.B. Cooper remains the FBI's only unsolved hijacking case. And for now, Cooper continues to be the one that got away.

Photos: D.B. Cooper and the skyjacking mystery

The legend dates back to 1971, when Cooper settled into his seat aboard a Boeing 747, ordered a bourbon and water and lit a cigarette. (Those were the good 'ol days, weren't they?) Then, he called over a flight attendant and handed her a note, printed in all capitals: "I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked." But the drama was just beginning. With his $200,000 in ransom, he dramatically parachuted out the back of the plane and vanished without a trace in the Pacific Northwest forest.

Since then, devising scenarios of Cooper's escape has been an intriguing parlor game and the inspiration for Fox's hit series "Prison Break." Could Cooper have survived his escape, which took place in a cold storm? Was he living it up on a beach someplace? And, come to think of it, how long could someone live on $200,000, anyway?

The public's appetite for Cooper-related news hasn't waned in the 40 years since Cooper managed to evade the FBI. Times staff writer Ralph Vartabedian provides details about how the FBI has spent years investigating countless tips, all of which have failed to capture the man last seen in attire that might be worthy of a "Mad Men" walk-on: black raincoat, a dark suit, a white shirt and a black necktie. Vartabedian writes that Cooper could have passed for a funeral director or a banker.

The legend made news again recently when the FBI's Seattle office said it was looking into a tip from a witness who contends the hijacker died 10 years ago, FBI Special Agent Frederick Gutt told the Associated Press.
 
The FBI was trying to match DNA on a tie reportedly left aboard the plane with that of a woman who believed her relative may have been the hijacker. But the tie had DNA from more than one person on it.

Further, "there are some questions about the tie itself: Was it a used tie, a borrowed tie?" Gutt said.

The FBI will continue to investigate the case, although it stresses that the case is not a priority.

But maybe this is one mystery better left alone. What do you think? Would you be disappointed if the mystery was solved once and for all?

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--Rene Lynch
Twitter / renelynch

Image: This 1971 artist's sketch provided by the FBI shows the skyjacker believed to be D.B. Cooper. Credit: Associated Press

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