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April 16, 2024 9 mins

There are some mysteries that we never quite figure out. One of them is about the 1971 hijacking of a jetliner by a guy called D. B. Cooper. He got $200,000 from the FBI and parachuted out of an airliner into the stormy wilderness of Washington state. They’ve never found him or even figured out who he was. But one man has stepped forward with a likely answer, thanks to his mom.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Imagine your mom late in life, getting ready to meet
her maker, pulls you aside and says, honey, I have
a confession. Your long dead dad and I were infamous
skyjackers fifty years ago. All right. It's considered one of
the greatest aviation mysteries of all time. It's right up
there with Amelia Earhart's disappearance. We're talking about the nineteen

(00:20):
seventy one hijacking of a Northwest Orient flight headed to Seattle,
during which a passenger referred to as dB Cooper collected
two hundred thousand dollars parachuted out of the plane, never
to be heard fromhim again. Well, it finally looks like
there's a viable, though long dead suspect. I'm Patty Steele

(00:41):
dB Cooper, possibly unmasked. That's next on the backstory. The
backstory is back. So this is the story of a
guy who hijacks a Boeing seven to twenty seven with
tons of people on board, demands two hundred thousand bucks
and four parachutes, then jumps into the bitter cold evening

(01:04):
over Washington State and he gets away with it. This
is the latest on the story of D. B. Cooper.
It happened over fifty two years ago, but other than
the nineteen eighty discovery of fifty eight hundred dollars from
the Ransom, which was lying along a remote Columbia River
bank in Washington, no other clues, however, turned up until recently.

(01:26):
It all started on Thanksgiving Eve, November twenty fourth, nineteen
seventy one, the guy we call D. B. Cooper buys
a ticket for a flight from Portland, Oregon to Seattle
under the name Dan Cooper, although the press mistakenly calls
him dB Cooper, and that kind of sticks. That's how
we know him from then on. Cooper's wearing a sharp
looking suit, dark sunglasses, and carrying a briefcase. He settles

(01:50):
into seat eighteen C. He's calm, collected, and he casually
lights a cigarette. The stewardess is like him. He seems
charismatic and nice. Then about thirty minutes into the flight,
he makes his move. He signals to flight attendant Florence
Schaffner and hands her a note. She thinks he's flirting,
and she just slips the note into her pocket without

(02:11):
reading it. That's when Cooper leans forward. He looks her
in the eye coldly and says, miss you'd better look
at that note. I have a bomb. Yesh, can you
imagine that feeling? Florence looks at the note and it
is chilling. Cooper claims he has a bomb in his briefcase,
and he demands two hundred thousand dollars in negotiable American currency,

(02:33):
four parachutes, and a fuel truck standing by in Seattle
to refuel the aircraft for a getaway. She alerts the
cockpit and the captain radios the demands to airic traffic Control.
The FBI scrambles to meet those demands, and the plane
lands without the passengers knowing what's going on. They've just
been told it's a minor mechanical issue and they're gonna

(02:56):
have to switch planes. The exchange goes as planned, the
plane lane passengers get off while the plane is refueled. Meantime,
Cooper inspects the cash and the parachutes, and there's nothing
anybody can do because he's still holding the crew hostage.
Just before they take off again, one of the flight
attendants asks Cooper if the flight attendants can leave. His response,

(03:20):
whatever you girls like, but he forces one of them
to stay. Tina Mucklow who stayed with him to help
keep everything under control. He then orders the plane to
take off again, headed for Mexico City, but he tells
them the flight path they have to take and the
minimum flight speed. He tells them to keep the cabin
depressurized and keep the rear door open with the staircase deployed,

(03:44):
all while in the air. Northwest's ground control objects due
to safety concerns, but Cooper says it can be done.
Do it. Finally, they're back in the air and Cooper
orders Tina to head to the cockpit. She knows he's
about to jump, and she runs for the front of
the plane. Then, even though the FBI military jets and

(04:05):
a helicopter are trailing the Boeing seven twenty seven, Cooper,
somewhere over the dense forests of southwestern Washington, lowers the
rear stairs used to get off the plane and leaps
down into the stormy, dark sky, vanishing with the ransom,
never to be seen again. Despite a frenzy of searches,

(04:26):
both on the ground and also for those trying to
unravel Cooper's identity, but it's not over. A couple of
new developments within the past year or so are really
narrowing the search. In one case, a microscopic metal fragment
recently was discovered on the clip on tie that dB
Cooper bought for a buck forty nine at JC Penny

(04:46):
and then left on board the plane. Researcher and private
eye Eric Eulis says, I wouldn't be surprised at all
if twenty twenty four is the year we figure out
who this guy was? Now, why would a tiny piece
of metal help figure out who dB Cooper is? Well?
The particle, amazingly, one of one hundred thousand particles lifted

(05:06):
from that little tie, apparently can be traced to Crucible Steel,
a metal fabrication shop near Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. In those days,
that company supplied most of the titanium and stainless steel
for Boeing aircraft, and workers at that plant frequently visited
Boeing headquarters in the Seattle area. On top of that,

(05:27):
investigators say dB Cooper had in depth knowledge of the
Boeing seven twenty seven, so is it possible he worked
there and on that project? Well Ulis says he thinks
all roads lead to research engineer Vince Peterson from Pittsburgh
says ulis. I can put him in Seattle at that time,

(05:48):
I can put him at Boeing. He's a compelling person
of interest. He's definitely somebody I'm going to continue to
dig into. Now. The problem is Peterson died back in
two thousand and two, so there's certainly no confession coming there.
But here's the most likely new story. There's a man
who says he knows who D. B. Cooper really is
because he's got a confession from none other than his

(06:10):
own mother. Now, Richard McCoy the third isn't claiming his
mom was the skyjacker. He truly believes the mystery man
is his dad. Richard McCoy junior of Vietnam VET and
seasoned skydiver, Rick says his mother, Karen, was his dad's accomplice.
Near the end of her life, she finally told her
kids that not only was their dad D. B. Cooper,

(06:33):
but she admitted that she helped orchestrate not just the
most baffling skyjacking in history, but that she also helped
plan another of her husband's heists. The second one was
most definitely carried out by her husband, and in the
same fashion. Four parachutes, a five hundred thousand dollars ransom
this time and a bomb threat. He too parachuted out

(06:55):
of the rear of the jet and survived. But unlike
the D. B. Cooper case, Richard McCoy's skyjacking just over
four months later April seventh, nineteen seventy two, led to
his capture within three days. Photos of McCoy, by the way,
eerily match the suspect drawings of D. B. Cooper done
from descriptions of him by flight crew on the first

(07:16):
hijacked plane. So after his arrest, Richard was sentenced to
forty five years in prison, but he escaped after two years,
and just three months after that he was killed in
a nineteen seventy four shootout with cops in Virginia. Now,
his son has even provided DNA to the FBI in
hopes of finally resolving the mystery of D. B. Cooper's identity,

(07:37):
but he waited to share his parents' story until his
mother died just a few years ago. In addition, he's
given them a parachute that he found in a barn
on his grandmother's property that he thinks may be one
of the extra parachutes his father jumped with will we
ever know for sure who dB Cooper is or was?

(07:57):
Two hundred grands a lot of money, But the question
is what influences somebody to risk their life for that?
And if it's all about the thrill, what do you
do next? Hope you're enjoying the backstory. Please subscribe if

(08:18):
you would, And I want to thank backstory listener Carrie
Simpson Rap from Beautiful New Jersey for suggesting this update
on dB Cooper. If you have a story you'd like
me to dig into and share, please dm me on
Facebook at Patty Steele or on Instagram at Real Patty Steele.
I'm Patty Steele. The Backstories a production of iHeartMedia, Premiere Networks,

(08:41):
the Elvis Durand Group, and Steel Trap Productions. Our producer
is Doug Fraser. Our writer Jake Kushner. We have new
episodes every Tuesday and Friday. Feel free to reach out
to me with comments and even story suggestions on Instagram
at Real Patty Steele and on Facebook at Patty Steele.
Thanks for listening to the Backstory with Patty Steele. The

(09:02):
pieces of history you didn't know you needed to know
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