After 40 years, can they pick up the trail of the famous hijacker?
The FBI says it has a "credible" lead in the D.B. Cooper case involving the 1971 hijacking of a passenger jet over Washington state and the suspect's legendary parachute escape.
The fate and identity of the hijacker dubbed "D.B. Cooper" has remained a mystery in the 40 years since a man jumped from a Northwest Orient Airlines 727 flight with $200,000 in ransom.
The recent tip provided to the FBI came from a law enforcement member who directed investigators to a person who might have helpful information on the suspect, FBI spokeswoman Ayn Sandalo Dietrich told TheSeattle Times on Sunday. She called the new information the "most promising lead we have right now," but cautioned that investigators were not on the verge of breaking the case.
"With any lead our first step is to assess how credible it is," Sandalo Dietrich told the Seattle Post Intelligencer on Saturday. "Having this come through another law enforcement (agency), having looked it over when we got it - it seems pretty interesting."
Dietrich says an item belonging to the man was sent to a lab in Quantico, Va., for forensic testing. She did not provide specifics about the item or the man's identity.
They found a few thousand dollars of the money along a remote river bank in Washington state, and suspects have come and gone, but D.B. Cooper is still a mystery. Finding the money in a decomposed state would seem to indicate that Cooper met an untimely death. Jumping out of a passenger jet is fraught with danger and the area Cooper parachuted into was thick with trees. It is probable he is dead and the money disintegrated.
But this new lead would seem to indicate that a close relative might have been found. If Cooper can be positively identified, we can start to unravel the mystery of who he was and his motive for the hijacking.
Then again, the legend is so compelling, maybe we should wish that things remain as they are.