2:09pm

Tue August 9, 2011
The Two-Way

D.B. Cooper Update: FBI Says No DNA Match With New Suspect

Our colleagues at public radio's Northwest News Network (N3) first reported a DNA mismatch between the new suspect in the 1971 D.B. Cooper skyjacking and evidence from the hijacked plane.

The failed DNA test was disclosed Friday by Marla Cooper, the woman who claims that her late uncle, Lynn Doyle (L.D.) Cooper, was the famous skyjacker.

Marla Cooper told N3's Tom Banse that the FBI compared DNA from her uncle's daughter to DNA taken from a necktie D.B. Cooper wore during the skyjacking.

"The DNA that they were able to extract from my uncle L.D. (Cooper)'s daughter, who was born after the fact, did not match the partial sample of DNA that they have in their files," Marla Cooper said.

The FBI confirmed the test and results for Banse, though the agency refused to identify the family member involved. Special Agent Fred Gutt told Banse, in reference to the DNA taken from the necktie, "it's not a very good sample" and may not have been D.B. Cooper's DNA.

The FBI's Gutt provided more detail yesterday, telling the Associated Press that the failed DNA test is not definitive because agents can't be sure that the DNA on the tie came from D.B. Cooper.

"There are some questions about the tie itself: Was it a used tie, a borrowed tie?" Gutt told the AP.

The DNA test is not the only failed link between L.D. and D.B. Cooper. Last week, the FBI confirmed that it could not lift fingerprints from a guitar strap that belonged to L.D. to compare them with fingerprints left on the hijacked plane.

Banse tracked down the daughter and L.D. Cooper's widow in Sparks, Nevada, as well as a son, but none have returned his calls seeking their perspective on Marla Cooper's claims linking L.D. and D.B. Cooper, which are based on conversations Marla Cooper says she overheard when she was 8-years-old.

In another new tidbit, Marla Cooper also told Banse that her uncle lost all of the ransom money during his parachute jump. That claim is based on a 1995 conversation with Cooper's late father.

"I questioned what he did with the money," Cooper told Banse. "He said, 'He dropped it.' I said, 'What!'"

Cooper assumes her uncle told the story to her father.

"He said, 'no Marla, he strapped it to himself. Then when he was falling from the sky something went wrong with the parachute.' In working to get the parachute opened, the money got unattached and it fell away from him."

D.B. Cooper is the name attached to the mysterious man who hijacked a Portland-to-Seattle flight on Thanksgiving eve 40 years ago this year. The hijacker demanded a $200,000 ransom and four parachutes in exchange for the passengers, and the FBI and airline complied when the plane landed in Seattle.

The plane took off again for Mexico, at Cooper's direction, but over southwest Washington state, the pilot noticed the activation of a rear exit stairwell. Cooper jumped into freezing temperatures and a storm over a rugged, heavily forested and mountainous area near Ariel, Washington. There's been no trace of him since but some of the ransom money was discovered along the Columbia River near Portland, Oregon, in 1980.

L.D. Cooper is just the latest in a series of suspected and self-proclaimed D.B. Coopers. The FBI says none have proven to be the skyjacker.

Copyright 2011 National Public Radio. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.