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D.B Cooper is gone, but his legend lives on

Cooper November 23, 1996
Web posted at: 11:30 p.m. EST

From Correspondent Rusty Dornin

(CNN) -- The last anyone saw of D.B. Cooper, he was jumping from an airliner high above the Pacific Northwest and carrying a bag full of cash -- $200,000 in ransom money.

That was 25 years ago, but Cooper hasn't been forgotten over time.

On the contrary, the story of D.B. Cooper has gained currency. Cooper, using the pseudonym of Dan Cooper, in 1971 hijacked an airliner over the Pacific Northwest, demanding $200,000.

He parachuted -- money and all -- out of the plane and was never found. With scant information on his whereabouts, he has become a sort of folk legend, an outlaw who vanished into the wilderness and got away with foiling the establishment.


There was a massive manhunt for Cooper, with few results. The best clue turned up nine years later: $6,000 in bills found by a boy along the banks of the Columbia River.

"Our intent is to dig up this beach and see if we can find any more bundles of money, or a suitcase maybe that he carried it in," said a law enforcement official during the manhunt.

"The only things we found were small pieces, like these here, and they were all found within four or five feet of where the original money was found," said an FBI on the case.

D.B. Cooper's case has yielded little but dead ends for law enforcement. There was a part of a sign believed to have come from the hijacked plane, an arrest of a man that looked a lot like Cooper -- but wasn't.

Still, nothing broke the romantic myth that Cooper escaped with the money -- or died when he jumped on that stormy night.


For years, folks have celebrated the Cooper legend. But retired FBI agent and author Richard Towser now leads a team searching for bits of his parachute in the cold waters of the Columbia, where he believes Cooper died.

"A very spectacular feat he was trying to pull off -- get rich quick, beat the establishment and he's become -- let's face it -- some sort of folk hero," said Towser.

Former FBI agent Richard Himmelbach told reporters more than 10 years ago how he felt about the fugitive outlaw. "I think he was a sleazy, rotten criminal," he said.

He reportedly feels the same way today.

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