FBI closes mysterious D.B. Cooper hijacking case after 45 years

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SEATTLE -- The greatest mystery in the Pacific Northwest has been laid to rest by the FBI:  D.B. Cooper’s legendary hijacking of an airliner in 1971.

The FBI said the decision to close the case was due to the fact that, after 45 years of time, effort and money, they have no solid evidence and all leads have come up dry.

“We would’ve loved to have solved this, there’s no question about it,” said Special Agent in Charge Frank Montoya Jr. “To see justice served. It doesn’t feel good to acknowledge that this is the only unsolved skyjacking in American history,” he said in a press conference Tuesday night.

The FBI said they have investigated more than 100 persons of interest, trying to find the middle-age man who captivated the country with his dramatic hijacking and escape more than four decades ago.

The man known to investigators as Dan Cooper boarded a Seattle-bound flight from Portland on November 24, 1971, with a suitcase. Once the plane was in the air, he told flight attendants the suitcase was  full of explosives. When the plane landed, he traded the plane’s 36 passengers for $200,000 in ransom and four parachutes. It’s then that he ordered the plane to Mexico, but while en route he jumped from the plane over Oregon with the money while wearing a business suit and parachute.

He has never been found, and it’s because of that the agency has decided to close the case.

“We’ve done everything we could and now we need to put our time and resources into other places,” said Montoya.

There’s been an agent assigned to the case for 45 years, making it one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations for the FBI, they said. The costs continue to add up, and some of those can’t be calculated, said the special agent in charge.

“It takes time and resources away from my other cases where there are victims now, problems and crimes now,” said Special Agent Curtis Eng.

Some bundles of his cash, matched by serial numbers, were found in a rural area of Oregon in 1980, but only some of the money was found.

The FBI said there are only two things that would cause them to reopen the case -- if one of the parachutes was found or more money from the $200,000 ransom.

“If somebody came forward with information that we could make a case in court, primarily those parachutes or that money, we’d gladly take that and run with it,” said Montoya.

Still, the FBI believes the Seattle hijacking won’t have the dramatic conclusion the country and countless amateur investigators have been waiting for.

“There are a lot of mysteries out there and this is going to be one of those,” said Montoya.

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