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Soldiers find no sign of D.B. Cooper

A look back at a century in the making

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Forging through the brush and forest near Lake Merwin, Washington, 3rd Armor Cavalry Regiment soldiers from Fort Lewis returned to the base at the start of the 1970's without finding the famed hijacker D.B. Cooper.

F.B.I. agents requested assistance from the Army to search the area where Cooper was believed to have parachuted from the rear door of a Northwest Airlines 727 the night of November 24, 1971. A man calling himself Dan Cooper hijacked a plane from Portland to Seattle, demanded parachutes and $200,000 in cash, then jumped into the night with the money, never to be seen again.

Seeing neither Cooper nor the money turned up, authorities expected to find his body somewhere in the rugged country where he was believed to have landed.

Two hundred-plus soldiers from Fort Lewis scoured 35.2 miles of terrain in wet weather but found neither Cooper nor any trace of the money.  Nevertheless, since reconnaissance is the bread and butter of a cavalry scout unit, the soldiers did hit it big with great training.

D.B. today

During the course of the 45-year investigation, the FBI exhaustively reviewed all credible leads, coordinated between multiple field offices to conduct searches, collected all available evidence, and interviewed all identified witnesses. Over the years, the FBI has applied numerous new and innovative investigative techniques, as well as examined countless items at the FBI Laboratory. Evidence obtained during the course of the investigation will now be preserved for historical purposes at FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The mystery surrounding the hijacking by a still-unknown individual resulted in significant international attention and a decades-long manhunt. Although the FBI appreciated the immense number of tips provided by members of the public, none to date have resulted in a definitive identification of the hijacker. The tips have conveyed plausible theories, descriptive information about individuals potentially matching the hijacker, and anecdotes - to include accounts of sudden, unexplained wealth. In order to solve a case, the FBI must prove culpability beyond a reasonable doubt, and, unfortunately, none of the well-meaning tips or applications of new investigative technology have yielded the necessary proof.

Excerpts were taken from the F.B.I.'s web site to complete this report.

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