Thursday, March 19, 2009

At least he didn't choose Johnny Canuck or Captain Canada!

Cover of Dan Cooper comic book. Special Agent Larry Carr of the Seattle office of the FBI has developed some interesting theories in the case fo the iconic skyjacker known as D.B. Cooper.

Did Canadian Comic Book Inspire FBI's 'greatest unsolved mystery?'
Randy Boswell, Canwest News Service
March 18, 2009
An FBI agent probing one of the bureau's most famous cold cases -- the 1971 disappearance of hijacker-parachutist "D.B. Cooper" somewhere over the U.S. Pacific Northwest -- has announced a bizarre development in the investigation: a new theory that the mystery man's name and escape method were inspired by a French comic book's Canadian hero.

Prompted by Internet chatter about the case, which continues to fascinate legions of amateur sleuths nearly 40 years after Cooper parachuted from a hijacked passenger jet with $200,000 in ransom money, Seattle-based FBI agent Larry Carr laid out the possible Canadian connection this week on the bureau's website.

Pointing to the 1960s-era French-language comic book character Dan Cooper -- a Royal Canadian Air Force test pilot who battles enemies on Earth and in space -- Mr. Carr says the mystery hijacker may have adopted the superhero's name and been inspired by a particular cover showing the Canuck pilot on a parachute jump.

The parachuting issue was "published near the date of the hijacking," the FBI notes, adding that the hijacker -- while popularly known as "D.B. Cooper" because of a news reporter's error after the crime took place -- actually identified himself as "Dan Cooper" when he first boarded the plane at the airport in Portland, Oregon.

"He came from somewhere and from someone," Mr. Carr said in the FBI release, "and that is what we want to know."

The Cooper case was unofficially revived in 2006 when the FBI used the 35th anniversary of the November 24, 1971, hijacking to retell the story of what it calls "one of our greatest unsolved mysteries."

In December, 2007, the FBI formally reopened the investigation and named Mr. Carr as special agent in charge of the case. The bureau released composite sketches of the suspect and photos of the key evidence collected during the original investigation, inviting the public to send in fresh clues to help solve the mystery.

"Even though our investigation has remained open, it doesn't make sense for the FBI to commit substantial resources to this nearly four-decade-old crime," Mr. Carr said. "So if the public can help, by whatever means, maybe we can shake something loose."

The man calling himself Cooper had claimed, during an afternoon flight between Portland and Seattle, to have a bomb in his briefcase. When the plane landed in Seattle, 36 passengers were released after the hijacker received $200,000 in cash and four parachutes.

He ordered the plane's flight crew to take off for Mexico and -- at an unknown location between southwest Washington state and Reno, Nevada. -- Cooper parachuted from a rear door of the jet.

Mr. Carr and other experts believe it's unlikely Cooper survived the nighttime jump over rugged land in a driving rain.

But the suspect's body has never been found. In 1980, along the Columbia River in southwest Washington state, a boy found a rotting package of $5,800 in $20 bills that matched the serial numbers of the ransom money.


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