The FBI officially closed the book last year on the unsolved case of a 1971 hijacking by the man known as D.B. Cooper, but now a team of amateur investigators say they have a new lead in the case. The amateurs, who call themselves Citizen Sleuths, were allowed access to the FBI’s files and evidence. The Sleuths teamed up with the TV show “Expedition Unknown,” which funded an extensive particle analysis by a professional lab to examine a clip-on necktie found on the airplane, which may have belonged to the hijacker. The results, say the Sleuths, reveal that the person wearing the tie was exposed to a wide range of elements and chemicals that would have been consistent with work then being done at the Boeing plant in Washington.
Most of the chemicals found on the tie were consistent with book matches, the researchers said. Cooper is known to have smoked eight cigarettes while on the airplane. Other chemicals found, such as pure titanium and 5000 series aluminum, are known to have high anti-corrosive properties, the amateurs said. “In 1971 the most common place these two metals were found together would be chemical plants or the metal fabrication facility that built the components for the plant,” according to the group’s website. “Secondarily would be the companies who recovered scrap metal from these types of factories.” Cooper vanished after he jumped from the Northwest Orient 727 with a parachute and $200,000 in ransom money. The only certain physical evidence ever found in the case was a packet of money with serial numbers matching the ransom money, unearthed by an 8-year-old boy playing near the Columbia River. The three bundles of cash totaled $5,800. The researchers said anyone who has information or analysis relevant to their effort is welcome to contact them via their website.