U.S. News

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

FBI reopens search for 1971 hijacker

It has been more than 37 years, but the FBI hasn't lost interest in Dan Cooper, the man who parachuted from a Northwest Airlines jet over the Pacific Northwest while clutching a bag with $200,000 in ill-gotten gain.

Federal agents say they have reignited their pursuit of the mysterious Cooper.

In a news release issued Monday, the FBI said it is providing to the public a series of photos and information about the case, which has baffled and mesmerized authorities and the public for decades.

"Would we still like to get our man?" the FBI release said. "Absolutely."

The FBI said it is taking the action because of "new technologies like DNA testing."

The questions the FBI said it hopes to answer: Who was Cooper? Did he survive the jump? And what happened to the loot, only a small part of which has surfaced?

The agency said it has pursued "thousands of leads and considered all sorts of scenarios."

"And amateur sleuths have put forward plenty of their own theories. Yet the case remains unsolved."

The material the FBI is releasing on its Web site includes photos of some of the recovered currency and of a necktie Cooper took off before jumping. The FBI says the tie has yielded DNA evidence.

"Please look it all over carefully to see if it triggers a memory or if you can provide any useful information," the FBI said.

A man from Morris, Minn., says Cooper is his brother. Lyle Christiansen was watching the "Unsolved Mysteries" television show a few years back as it featured the Cooper case.

Since that show, Christiansen has tried to convince the FBI that Cooper is his brother and is now dead.

An FBI spokeswoman said Christiansen's brother is "not a viable suspect."

On Thanksgiving Eve in 1971, a man who gave the name Dan Cooper bought a ticket for a Northwest flight from Portland, Ore., to Seattle.

Shortly after the plane took off, the man handed the flight attendant a note, saying he had a bomb. He wanted $200,000 in cash and two parachutes when the plane landed in Seattle.

The money and parachutes were brought aboard the plane, which took off for Mexico. Over southern Washington, the hijacker jumped out the back door into freezing rain -- and was never seen again.

The name was fake. Some of the money was found years later in the mountains.