D.B. Cooper skyjack: Latest lead goes cold – and the legend lives on

D.B. Cooper mystery endures: The FBI says DNA found on a tie left behind by the legendary hijacker doesn't match that of the latest suspect, who died in 1999.

By , Staff writer

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    A 1971 artist's sketch released by the FBI shows the skyjacker known as 'D.B. Cooper,' was made from the recollections of passengers and crew of a Northwest Orient Airlines jet he hijacked between Portland and Seattle, Nov. 24, 1971.
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The D.B. Cooper legend lives. Unfortunately for the FBI, it also means that the only unsolved hijacking in US history remains just that: unsolved.

Last week, a new name emerged to add to the literally hundreds of possible suspects that have been examined in the 40 years since a man who became known to the world as D.B. Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 on Thanksgiving Eve 1971 and absconded, via parachute, with $200,000 in bundled 20s, never to be heard from again.

But the FBI said Monday that DNA collected from items that belonged to a man named Lynn Doyle Cooper, a logger and Korean War veteran who died in 1999, didn't match that of a partial DNA signature that the FBI pulled in 2001 from a JCPenney clip tie the man left behind on the plane.

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L.D. Cooper's niece told ABC News last week that she remembers as an 8-year-old her two uncles, including L.D., planning something "mischievous" at a Thanksgiving get-together. The two disappeared, and L.D. returned later with serious injuries. Ms. Cooper recalled that her father told her in 1995 that "Uncle L.D. ... hijacked that airplane."

The FBI called the lead "most promising" and sent one of Cooper's homemade guitar straps to Quantico for tests.

But on Monday, FBI Special Agent Fred Gutt said the agency couldn't make a link between the tie and L.D. Cooper. Agent Gutt pointed out, however, that the agency has still not completely ruled out a link since the DNA found on the tie could have come from someone other than the hijacker.

Some FBI investigators believe D.B. Cooper – the name of an early suspect who was cleared, but whose moniker stuck to the case – may have died in the jump.

But others believe D.B. Cooper is still out there, a living legend who beat the odds and sparked the imagination of a nation.

"The phenomenon of this case is people see who they want to see in D.B. Cooper," says Geoffrey Gray, the author of "SKYJACK: The hunt for D.B. Cooper." "The story of our lives is the story of our fears, so for somebody to do something, from a commercial airliner, from a seat we've all sat in, to just get up and jump out of a plane like that … he's become a hero even though he was a criminal. We need him, in a way."

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