Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Recent Homicide Puts D.B. Cooper Case in Headlines Again

F.B.I. sketch of the man called D.B.Cooper

F.B.I. sketch of the man called D.B.Cooper

In a story that may well have conspiracy theorists buzzing for decades, the suspicious death of a man believed to have packed infamous hijacker D.B. Cooper’s parachutes, has been ruled a homicide. Further investigation will reveal, it is hoped, whether this is a strange coincidence, or not.

Though police have not confirmed the victim’s name, the property involved belongs to Earl Cossey, 74, the sky diving instructor that reportedly packed the chutes for D.B. Cooper before he parachuted his way to mystery and fame. It is being reported that the man in question was found dead from some sort of head trauma in the garage of his rural Woodinville, Washington, home on April 26, 2013, by his daughter, who hadn’t heard from him in a few days. She called police, who found his death suspicious from the start. By Saturday morning, however, deputies were calling it a homicide.

While a passenger on Northwest Orient Airlines headed flight 305 to Seattle on November 12, 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper told a stewardess that he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded $200,000 in U.S. currency, 4 parachutes and a re-fuel in Seattle before having the plane fly him to Mexico. He surprised everyone and bailed out mid-flight somewhere near the Oregon border and despite intensive searches, was never heard from or seen again. Most believe that he died in the jump. According to the FBI, the case remains open.

The unsolved case of D.B. Cooper has resurfaced several times since it first went cold. The most significant break came in 1980 when a boy found three bundles of old, weathered $20 bills that bore the serial numbers of some given to Cooper. In 2008 some children playing found a parachute in the area of Cooper’s jump, but when FBI presented it to Cossey, he said it was not Cooper’s. Apparently he had been shown several chutes over the years, none of which were Cooper’s and grew tired of that game, so to reporters who called him on April Fool’s day he confirmed that the parachute was indeed Cooper’s. Regarding the prank Cossey reportedly said, ‘I’m getting mixed reviews,but I’m having fun with it. What the heck.’

According to author Gunther Max, who wrote D. B. Cooper: What Really Happened, Earl Cossey has told some sources that three of the four chutes were returned to him, a primary and the two backups. The FBI maintains that only two parachutes were found on the plane, a primary and a cannibalized reserve. Was that Cossey’s sense of humor again? Perhaps. Cossey also maintained that due to his choice of chute, Cooper was not an expert skydiver. The Mountain News, however, reports that documents recently released by the FBI show that a Kent, Washington, pilot named Norman Hayden owned and delivered the packed chutes, not Cossey. His credibility is now under scrutiny, however, and many are beginning to question his conclusions.

Curiouser, and curiouser.

According to Cossey’s former brother-in-law, “I will be very, very surprised when they figure out what happened has anything to do with the D.B. Cooper thing because it’s so old. It’s really in the past, a long time ago,” said Bowyer. “I know he got real tired of hearing about it.”

At this time police are not drawing any connections between the two cases, and do not plan on officially releasing the victim’s name until the coroner has finished his report.

DB Cooper: The Legendary Daredevil

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