Why the FBI Just Closed The D.B. Cooper Skyjacking Case After a 45-Year Hunt

Is the skyjacker behind one of America’s greatest unsolved mysteries still out there?

Suspect sketches for D.B. Cooper. (Image: FBI.gov)

When an average-looking guy of indeterminate age leaped from the rear of a jet flying over the Pacific Northwest on the night of November 24, 1971, he was carrying $200,000 and several decades’ worth of mystery with him. 

He’d called himself Dan Cooper when he boarded the flight he hijacked and held for ransom. A reporting error renamed him D.B. Cooper, and that’s the name that today is synonymous with one of the greatest American unsolved mysteries. 

As far as the FBI is concerned, the mystery of D.B. Cooper, skyjacker extraordinaire, is going to stay unsolved. It’s been 45 years, no one has ever conclusively been fingered as Cooper—though there have been many solid suspects—and the case is too cold to ever revive. From the Bureau’s announcement about the closure:

Following one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history, on July 8, 2016, the FBI redirected resources allocated to the D.B. Cooper case in order to focus on other investigative priorities. During the course of the 45-year NORJAK investigation, the FBI exhaustively reviewed all credible leads, coordinated between multiple field offices to conduct searches, collected all available evidence, and interviewed all identified witnesses. Over the years, the FBI has applied numerous new and innovative investigative techniques, as well as examined countless items at the FBI Laboratory. Evidence obtained during the course of the investigation will now be preserved for historical purposes at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

So there you have it. It seems like this was one time where the guy got away with it. While it’s true that the man who called himself Cooper may have descended into trackless forests and died that night, leaving behind only tantalizing clues and a small portion of the money he took, it’s also true that there’s an even chance he’s an old man staring at news reports about the case today and laughing till his dentures rattle loose. 

Even if definitive evidence did come out tomorrow pinning the D.B. Cooper hijacking on someone, he would still be the man who effectively beat the FBI.

There’s no shortage of theories about the Cooper case. Consider giving in to the lure of this legendary unsolved mystery and coming up with a few yourself.

h/t CNN, FBI.gov