by Bruce A. Smith
In the past six months, there has been flurry of interest in the DB Cooper case from TV producers and documentarians. Some Cooper researchers are reporting up to six different outfits from the United States and the UK developing some kind of DB Cooper show, and I think the essential question to ask is: What will be the role of the FBI in these shows, and will they answer any lingering questions about the investigation?
Simply, is the FBI conducting a cover-up of the DB Cooper case? If not, when will they explain the many inconsistencies and mysteries their investigations have produced.
Here is my list of the Top Ten Questions to ask the FBI regarding DB Cooper.
1. Cigarette Butts
Eight Raleigh cigarette butts were recovered from DB Cooper’s plane, but are now reported missing.
– So, where are they?
– If lost, is anyone looking for them?
– Were they used for DNA analysis, as alleged by author Pat Forman in a NBC-News broadcast
– If so, where is the paper-work?
2. Ground Search
DB Cooper hijacked his airplane on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving in 1971. He jumped out of his aircraft at approximately 8:15 that evening, and skydiving experts say he would have been on the ground by 8:30 pm at the latest. However, no one went looking for him until the next day, giving DB Cooper an 11-hour headstart over his pursuers. Ironically, no FBI agents actually went out into the woods looking for DB Cooper.
– So, why was the initial ground search out-sourced to local Sheriff Departments, specifically the Clark Country Sheriff’s Department and Cowlitz County SD?
-Why weren’t there check-points and road-blocks established once the Landing Zone was determined by airline officials, understood to be approximately 11 pm, November 24, 1971?
-Why was the ground search called off on Monday, November 29, 1971?
-Why did Seattle FO tell FBI DC that there was too much snow on the ground to continue, when there was no snow reported in the LZ by the Sheriff’s officials.
3. Clip-on Tie
DB Cooper was reported to have worn a black clip-on tie, which he reportedly left on the seat next to him.
– Why did it the clip-on tie enter the Seattle evidence cache four days after the hijacking?
-Where was it for that time?
-Was the chain of custody broken?
4. Reno, fingerprints
DB Cooper’s plane, Northwest Orient 305, landed in Reno, Nevada for refueling approximately four hours after leaving Sea-Tac on the hijacker’s getaway flight. He presumably jumped from the plane long before it touched down at Reno, but waiting for the plane were 200 law enforcement officials, including a bevy of FBI agents from the Las Vegas office. In Reno, the plane was searched for evidence.
– Who conducted the fingerprint search aboard 305 on November 24, 1971
-What was obtained in that search? Were the prints recovered deemed “to be of no use,” as reported by author Bernie Rhodes?
-Why weren’t the “In-flight” magazines gathered into evidence?
5. Reno, duties of FBI agents
The memories of Las Vegas-based special agents on the evidence retrieval duties are in conflict with each other, and Bernie Rhodes writes that they seemed to be “victims of some strange post-hypnotic suggestion.”
– What happened?
– Other agents, such as Tom Dempsey, were unable to tell SLC SAC Russ Calame what duties they performed that night. How come?
-Did MKULTRA play a part in Norjak?
6. SOG and 727s
Special Operations Group (SOG) soldiers were a highly trained group of covert operatives who fought “across the fence,” in the Vietnam War, meaning that they engaged the Viet Cong and North Vietnamese troops outside of the boundaries of Vietnam, such as in Laos, Cambodia, and North Vietnam. Many SOG troopers believe that DB Cooper was one of their guys.
– What was the nature of the FBI’s investigation of SOG troopers regarding Norjak?
– What was the role of 727s in the Vietnam War?
– Were they used to deploy soldiers into combat?
– Did any units utilize techniques similar to those of DB Cooper, ie: jumping from a 727?
7. Money retrieval at Tina Bar
$5,800 of Cooper’s ransom money was discovered in 1980 at a beach on the Columbia River known as Tina Bar. Later, the FBI says that they recovered numerous “shards of money fragments scattered in the sand.
– How many shards of money were found at Tina Bar?
– Where are they, currently?
– Did the FBI find part of DB Cooper’s briefcase at Tina Bar, as reported by PIO Dorwin Schreuder?
– Why was the money found in a highly compressed state?
– What kinds of follow-up were done along the Columbia River, ie: fishermen interviewed, other sites dug-up, etc.?
8. Richard McCoy
A Provo, Utah man, named Richard McCoy, hijacked a United flight and escaped with $500,000. McCoy was widely thought by the FBI to be DB Cooper doing a second skyjacking, and was captured by the Salt Lake City office of the FBI in mid-April 1972. McCoy was sentenced to 45 years prison, and after an escape from federal custody was later killed during a gun battle with FBI agents in Virginia Beach. During the investigation of his April hijacking, many anomalies were discovered about McCoy. Chief among them was:
– What was he doing in Las Vegas on November 24, 1971, when DB Cooper was stealing his airplane?
9. Radar findings
When DB Cooper was on his getaway flight, his plane was tracked by numerous pieces of radar equipment, both on the ground and in the air. However, no public records of these findings has ever been released.
– What did SAGE radar do the night of November 24, 1971.
– Did the F-106s following Flight 305 have any radar findings of Cooper or his jump? If not, why not?
10. Earl Cossey
Earl Cossey was a mysterious character in the Norjak investigation. He was certainly a skydiving expert who consulted widely with the FBI, and ” Coss” was found murdered in his Woodinville home on April 26, 2013
– What was the role of Earl Cossey in the Norjak investigation?
– Did he own the “back” parachutes delivered to the hijacker?
– Did Cossey influence the FBI’s perspective that Cooper was an inexperienced skydiver?
– Why was Cossey murdered?
Note: Bruce A. Smith is the author of DB Cooper and the FBI – A Case Study of America’s Only Unsolved Skyjacking.