The already closed case of the 1971 mystery hijacking of a passenger jet by D.B. Cooper has taken a new turn. This follows after leads thrown up by an FBI-hired team of amateur scientists claim new clues allegedly linking the hijacker with aerospace company Boeing Inc.
Hijack On Thanksgiving Eve
In November 1971, on the Thanksgiving Eve, a man boarded a Northwest Orient passenger jet, which was flying the Portland to Seattle route. In the flight, he threatened a crew member that his suitcase had a bomb and sought a ransom of $200,000 and four parachutes to avoid any harm to the aircraft and passengers. The request was conceded and he was given the money and parachute at Sea-Tac Airport when the plane landed midway.
When the jet was airborne again, the man identified as D.B. Cooper jumped off the Boeing 727 into the chilling night sky and remained untraced ever since.
Probe By Amateur Scientists
Though the lack of credible leads hampered the probe by FBI, it sought the support of a group of amateur scientists in digging new clues.
The federal agency also gave liberal access to the evidence it had to the team led by Tom Kaye, representing "Citizen Sleuths," including the clip-on tie left behind by Cooper.
The microscopic analysis of the tie, conducted by the team found evidence of particles numbering around 100,000 having traces of cerium, strontium sulfide, and pure titanium.
"These are what they call rare earth elements. They're used in very narrow fields, for very specific things," said Kaye.
According to Kaye, these rare earth elements are not commonplace materials. In the early 70s, they could have been in use for making Boeing's high-tech Super Sonic Transport plane. Kaye assumes that Boeing had been developing cutting-edge monitors including radar screens using some of the elements found on the tie.
Kaye's hunch is that Cooper must have been a Boeing employee or a contractor and worn the tie to the workplace.
Access to Private Sleuths
Now, Kaye's team will continue to investigate the case, though FBI has folded up the case.
Public support for the case is evidenced by the additional research funding Kaye's team got from the Travel Channel television show called "Expedition Unknown." The show footed the expenses in testing the particles of the tie at a Chicago laboratory.
Public Feedback Sought
To take the case forward, Kaye has urged the help of public especially old-timers who had exposure to the aerospace industry to volunteer useful information. His team will be posting the details of the particles found on Cooper's tie on the website.
They are hoping possible clues from public will help in building a profile of the elusive man D.B. Cooper.
People with useful information can use the "contact" tab on the Citizen Sleuth's website for sharing their leads.
The FBI has clarified that the tips it got were not adequate in establishing the culpability of suspects as they lacked the necessary proof.
However, the FBI urged people that in case credible physical evidence regarding the parachutes or the money taken by the hijacker crops up, individuals should contact their local FBI field offices.