Legal History

FBI: Skyjacker May Have Survived '71 Parachute Jump With $200K, Died of Natural Causes Decades Later


A hijacker who parachuted from a Boeing 727 over the Pacific Northwest with a $200,000 ransom in 1971 and has never been found despite one of the most extensive manhunts of the 20th century may have survived the dangerous night leap into rugged territory.

Agent Fred Gutt of the Federal Bureau of Investigation says the agency is pursuing DNA tests to determine whether an unidentified person of interest, who died of natural causes over a decade ago, is a match with the genetic material found on a tie left behind on the plane by the legendary hijacker, reports the Associated Press.

Known as Dan Cooper, the alleged hijacker is a famous figure in the annals of true crime, and his saga has been the basis of over a dozen books and a movie, according to the Los Angeles Times.

“If the man is identified as the legendary hijacker in America’s only unsolved skyjacking, it would mean he lived for 30 years after parachuting from the plane with $200,000 in cash, defying those who concluded he couldn’t have survived the leap,” recounts the Seattle Times.

A British newspaper, the Telegraph, broke the story. Reporter Alex Hannaford, who stopped by the FBI office in Seattle as a matter of routine after exploring the “huge subculture” that has developed, 40 years later, around the legend of the man who some describe as the Bigfoot of the Pacific Northwest, writes that he was stunned by this development.

“You’re the first to know this, but we do actually have a new suspect we’re looking at,” he was told by the FBI’s Ayn Dietrich. “And it comes from a credible lead who came to our attention recently via a law enforcement colleague.”

Posts on a Mysteries of History page of U.S. News & World Report and TruTV.com provide additional details about the background of the case.

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