The legend of D.B. Cooper continues. He almost has cult status. There are parties in his honor on the anniversary of his infamous jump. He even has bobble heads! (see bobble heads father down)
People are pulling for this guy – whoever he is. His identity is still a mystery. And the case of D.B. Cooper is still THE ONLY UNSOLVED SKYJACKING IN AVIATION HISTORY!
There are only 5 unsolved, mysterious cases that I regularly study today and in the past. I go back to them over and over every so often. Those cases are the Voynich Manuscript, the Beale Papers Treasure, Jack the Ripper, The Zodiac Killer, and the case of D.B. Cooper.
It is astonishing to me that after all these years, that no one can identify this guy who leaped into history in 1971. He has something in common with Jack the Ripper, who was the first real Serial Killer. D.B. Cooper was the first skyjacker that asked for ransom. Identities of both legends are still unsolved.
D.B. Cooper, who actually used the name Dan Cooper, skyjacked Northwest Flight 305, on November 24, 1971. The plane was a Boeing 727, which was easy to handle and came with aft stairs. He demanded a $200,000 ransom and he handed a note to Florence, the attendant, stating he had a bomb. Then flashed a “bomb” inside his attaché case to the attendants. He also asked for 4 parachutes, demanded the plane to fly below 10,000 feet, and the plane have it’s wing flaps set at a 15 degree angle. He certainly knew his planes.
Cooper boarded the plane, with a one way ticket to Seattle, wearing a black coat, dressed in a business suit, mirrored sunglasses, and carrying an attaché case. He was described as a tall, thin man, 5’10” to 6’ tall, in mid 40’s, 170-180 pounds, black or brown receding hair, and olive or dark skin.
He drank bourbon and soda and smoked Raleigh cigarettes on the plane. He was polite and gentlemanly, according to the two flight attendants that interacted with the legendary D.B. Cooper during the skyjacking. (Florence’s picture to left) Once the plane landed and refueled, and he got his ransom and parachutes, D.B. Cooper opened the aft stairs of the plane, and leapt out into the dark, cold night. He was never seen or heard from again. And the legend begins!
Now I was watching Brad Meltzer’s “Decoded” on the History channel about D.B. Cooper which aired January 6, 2011. The team investigated the newest suspect, Kenny Christiansen, as the infamous D.B. Cooper. More later on this.
But there have been other confessed D.B. Cooper suspects over the years.
One, was Richard McCoy, who 4 months later, skyjacked an United Airlines flight in Denver, Colorado on April 7, 1972, using the alias James Johnson. He also demanded a ransom of $500,000, and asked for 4 parachutes. He was investigated as the now famous D.B. Cooper, but was cleared because of an airtight alibi. He got 45 years in jail for the skyjacking. He then escaped, and was killed during a shootout. They found $499,970 of the ransom money.
A note: McCoy’s jump was at 16,000 feet and 200 mph. And he survived.
The next suspect was Duane Weber, who died in 1995. His wife claims that he told her “I’m Dan Cooper” on his death bed. But fingerprints and DNA cleared him.
In 1980, $5,800 of the ransom money of D.B. Cooper was found on a bank of the Columbia river, by Brian Ingram, who was just a boy at the time. This was a MAJOR development in the case. It was the first and only evidence since the skyjacking in 1971.
There were 3 bundles of money found, with rubber bands still intact. Most of the bills were too worn and damaged to make out, but the inside bills were less damaged. The serial numbers were verified to be that of D.B. Cooper’s ransom. But the money was found 40 miles from the drop zone of Cooper, and in the opposite direction of the river flow. How did it get there? That is what everyone is now asking.
Now, back to Brad Meltzer’s “Decoded” show. They investigated Kenny Christiansen as D.B. Cooper. And here’s what they found. Lyle Christiansen, Kenny’s brother, is the one who brought Kenny to the attention of the FBI. He suspected Kenny of being D.B. Cooper for several reasons.
First, just weeks after the skyjacking, Kenny had a lot of money. He bought a house with cash. He bought another house for a friend, with cash. He was practically throwing money around. All from a man who was only making $512 a month. Where did he get this money?
Second, he definitely resembled the FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper. An overlay of Kenny’s picture and D.B. Cooper’s FBI sketch is so similar, it’s eerie. (see picture below of Kenny and FBI sketch)
Third, he had been in the military, was familiar with planes, and worked for Northwest Airlines as a flight attendant. He had anger and frustrations with Northwest Airlines due to strikes that occurred during the times. And he knew the area in which he leapt. So Motive.
Fourth, Lyle claims that Kenny confessed to him on his death bed.
So, that’s where Kenny Christiansen comes in to the picture. The FBI ruled Kenny out rather quickly.
Brad Meltzer’s team actually talked to Bernie Geasman, the supposedly close friend of Kenny Christiansen. Although he denied they were that close of friends, he also denied that he had anything to do with the skyjacking or was any kind of an accomplice to Kenny. The team believed him.
The team next went to see Kenny’s house in Bonney Lake, Washington. (see picture of house at right) There, they found a “cubby hole” in the attic, where money could have been hidden. But nothing was there now. The owner of the house, which is now a business, also stated that there had been $20 bills found in a bag on the property. So that peaked their interest even more. Really? Any evidence of this so called “bag of money”?
So Brad Meltzer and his team concluded that Kenny Christiansen was D.B. Cooper. He is the best suspect after all these years, and the circumstantial evidence seems to point to Kenny. Not a very good way of concluding a case with only circumstantial hearsay as evidence.
So, I agree with the FBI regarding Kenny Christiansen. He was not D.B. Cooper. And here’s the reasons why, and they are definitive that Kenny Christiansen was not the legendary Cooper.
First, Kenny was too short, standing at only 5’8”. He was heavier than the weight described and had too big of a nose. He was not a “tall, thin man” as described. He didn’t match the physical description!
Second, He was almost bald, not just having a receding hairline. The flight attendants said his picture resembled Cooper more closely than any other – but it still was not him!
Third, He worked for Northwest Airlines for 20 YEARS after the skyjacking!
Fourth, the money. Kenny spent a lot of money. His savings at the time showed over $186,000 in the bank. Together with what he had and what he spent, was way more than the $200,000.
Really! That money could not have been the ransom money! Because none of the ransom money has ever been found in circulation, ever! So if he banked this money, it would have been flagged as D.B. Cooper’s ransom money. This is definitive proof that Kenny Christiansen was NOT D.B. Cooper!
He did get a lot of money from somewhere, and he did resemble the D.B. Cooper sketch, and smoked Raleigh and drank bourbon, but all that is circumstantial evidence and hearsay from his brother. It doesn’t prove anything. It’s just a relative claiming something with no proof.
Lawrence Carr, a special agent with the FBI, who has been researching the D.B. Cooper case recently, agrees that Kenny Christiansen was not the allusive D.B. Cooper. And now agent Carr has asked for the public’s help in closing this case. (Carr left)
Will this case ever be solved?
D.B. Cooper jumped from a plane that was travelling 200 mph, into the night, with the temperature below freezing, in a business suit and loafers, money tied to him, and his attaché case. He had no gloves, no goggles, and picked an unusual parachute for his jump. So did he survive?
My theory is D.B. Cooper died that night. Landed in the river and drowned. Since the money has never been in circulation and no body or any evidence has been found except the $5,800, that pretty much concludes that he died.
But there is always the chance he may have possibly survived the jump, and even lived. But he probably landed in water, had to cut off the parachute that weighed him down. He had to cut the money bag away, it too was weighing him down. He had to get to shore and out of the below freezing water, if he wanted to survive. Is that what happened? Or was he so cold from the jump, that when he hit water, he got so disoriented that he drowned, along with the money, the parachute, attaché case, the bomb, and the notes he took from the flight attendants?
We may never know, it’s been 40 years now, and it’s still unsolved. But parachuting experts continue to say that the jump was survivable. Richard McCoy proved it was a survivable jump. And the European comic book “Dan Cooper” is the only fresh lead in the case currently. Was D.B. Cooper a fan of the comic book?
I think Dan Cooper will stay a mystery. A folk hero to many. A footnote in aviation history.
Brad Meltzer’s “Decoded” on History channel aired January 6, 2011
National Geographic channel “The Skyjacker that Got Away” aired December 6, 2009