Here at The Murder Mystery Company HQ, we are always interested in cracking a case! One mystery that has left us scratching our heads is that of DB Cooper and the only remaining unsolved air piracy crime in American history.
On November 24, 1971, a man identifying himself as Dan Cooper bought a ticket on Flight 305 to Seattle, Washington from Portland, Oregon. After the plane took off, Cooper calmly indicated to a flight attendant that he was carrying a bomb and requested $200,000.
The flight attendant relayed his demands, which, after a few hours, were met, and Cooper released the rest of the passengers. He asked that the plane take off again to Mexico City, using a very specific flight plan.
One of Cooper’s demands was for four parachutes. Once the plane was in motion toward Mexico City, though unseen by any of the few crew members Cooper allowed to remain on board, Cooper jumped from the plane using, strangely, a dummy parachute (one that would not work like a real parachute should, accidentally obtained by the FBI from a skydiving school).
Cooper should not have been able to survive jumping from the plane using the practice parachute he used. However, after searching all surrounding areas, and even areas that he logically would not have landed, no body was found. Investigators scoured rivers, lakes, mountains, fields, and even people’s farms and homes.
Authorities also began looking into people who shared the suspect’s name, but quickly came to the conclusion that the man had used an alias. It also turns out that the name DB Cooper itself had been misreported in the media, as the plane ticket had been bought under the name Dan Cooper, and the misnomer stuck. The DB Cooper everyone was looking for had vanished.
Also unrecovered was his parachute, or any of the belongings he would have had on his person. It would take seven years for any physical evidence to surface. Among the eventually recovered items were three packets of money that were positively identified as being part of the $200,000 Cooper demanded, and instructions for how to lower the aft stairs of a 727, something that Cooper had indeed done when he jumped from the aircraft. It has been theorized that other evidence may have been destroyed in the 1980 eruption of Mount St. Helens.
There have been several suspects throughout the decades, though none have ever been formally charged or even substantially linked to the case. The FBI announced on July 8, 2016 that it would suspend active investigation of the case.
So what do you think, detectives? Did the suspect survive the fall and assume another identity to quietly live out his life with the stolen money? Or did his body somehow disappear after perishing during the leap from the plane, and any of the stolen money that logically should have gone into circulation once he began using it was just destroyed in the eruption?
Want to check out other bind-boggling mysteries? Our Clue-style shows are perfect for brushing up on your sleuthing skills, and they’re guaranteed to thrill.