D.B. Cooper Skyjacking Mystery: Man ID’d as the Hijacker in Upcoming Documentary Is a ‘Viable Suspect,’ Says Retired FBI Agent
People Magazine; by Johnny Dodd; Sunday, July 10, 2016
Over the past four and a half decades, the so-called D.B. Cooper skyjacking case has captivated countless armchair detectives – not to mention teams of FBI agents – hoping to finally crack the nation’s only unsolved act of air piracy.
Now a California man, who has assembled a large team of investigators, thinks he may have finally solved the case. It will be detailed in the two-part History Channel special, D.B. Cooper: Case Closed?, that airs tonight and on Monday.
“In my 35 years I’ve never seen as much evidence on any case I’ve worked on,” says Thomas J. Colbert, a former senior researcher for the CBS news owned-and-operated station, KCBS, in Los Angeles. He assembled a team of retired investigators [including a dozen former FBI agents] to re-examine the case for more than five years. “I’m absolutely certain that we’ve got him.”
The identity of the alleged culprit, who is confronted by Colbert’s armed investigators at one point during the upcoming docudrama with cameras rolling, will be revealed during the program.
The man who became known as D.B. Cooper first made headlines in November 1971 after he boarded a commercial flight in Portland and told a stewardess that he had a briefcase filled with dynamite.
The plane was bound for Seattle and by the time it landed the authorities had delivered the $200,000 in cash he requested, along with four parachutes.
He ordered the pilot to fly him to Mexico, but somewhere near the Washington-Oregon border he strapped on a parachute and leaped from the jet into a rainstorm, never to be seen again – although $5,800 of the money was discovered by an 8-year-old boy on the edge of the Columbia River nine years later.
The FBI, who did not respond to PEOPLE’s request for a comment on the case, has long maintained that Cooper probably didn’t survive the risky nighttime jump. Over the years, their case files have grown to more than 60 volumes.
“The D.B. Cooper case is a mystery like any case where you don’t get resolution, but there has to be an answer,” Ron Hilley, who spent 24 years as an FBI agent and serves as a member of Colbert’s investigative team that re-examined the case, tells PEOPLE. “He [the man they name as the culprit] looks like an extremely viable suspect to me. I would love to see the explanation that clears him.”