SALT LAKE CITY — Forty five years ago, D.B. Cooper made his famous leap from hijacked airliner over the forests of the Pacific Northwest with two-hundred thousand dollars cash and a parachute. He was never seen again. Or was he? A long running theory names Richard McCoy, a man arrested in Provo for a similar crime, as the real D.B. Cooper.
Last week, True.Ink magazine began releasing hundreds of pages from the original FBI case file on D.B. Cooper. The magazine is asking people to log in and jump into the hunt to help solve one of the most enduring FBI mysteries.
"We have access to all these original D.B. Cooper case files and we want help from the public, citizen sleuths to help solve this case,” said Geoffrey Gray, Founder and Managing Editor of True.Ink magazine.
A Utah sleuth claims to have cracked the case years ago. Russ Calame was the special agent in charge of the Salt Lake Field office for the FBI in the 1970’s. In 1972, less than five months after D.B. Cooper’s famous leap, Richard McCoy pulled off a similar hijacking. He jumped from a United Airlines flight with five-hundred thousand dollars, landing near Utah Lake before hitching a ride back to his house in Provo.
“He said 'You guys will never hold me.' He said 'I’ll escape.',” said Calame during a 2005 interview with Fox 13 News.
McCoy was arrested in Provo but would later escape from prison. He was gunned down during a shootout with FBI agents in Virginia.
“There’s a lot to like about McCoy as a suspect. A lot of sort of fishy stuff, he certainly had the capability,” said Gray. Gray isn’t convinced McCoy is D.B. Cooper, but with the release of the case files, he’s hoping someone will make a definitive connection.
Others believe the mystery ended the day it started.
“He had a backpack with the money in it and if he landed in the lake, that was the end of him,” said retired FBI agent Lou Bertram.
Buried in the mud along the banks of the Columbia River, less than $6,000 of the ransom money D.B. Cooper collected was found years after his disappearance. It is the only evidence from Cooper’s hijacking that has been recovered since his jump. Even his real name is a mystery. Dan Cooper is the name he gave while boarding the plane, later dubbed D.B. Cooper in various media reports.
The D.B. Cooper project, including the release of the investigative documents, could crowd source the investigation and with a click of a mouse, you could be part of the hunt.