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New analysis suggests D. B. Cooper splashed down in the Columbia River

A scientist using an electron microscope to study biological material on the D. B. Cooper cash found in a Columbia River sandbar in 1980 by a boy camping with his family says the money couldn’t have been in the water for more than a few months, ruling out an early FBI theory that Cooper jumped farther north and the bills washed into the Columbia from a river in the presumed drop zone. The hijacking was in November 1971. The scientist, Tom Kaye, said in his abstract,

“This study found diatoms on a recovered bill which indicates that the money was immersed before burial. The species mix found on the bills was compared to a test bill submerged in the Columbia River in November which was the timeframe for the crime. The Cooper bill contained diatoms from summer bloom species suggesting that the money was not directly buried dry and the immersion happened months after the late November hijacking.”

(Italics added for emphasis.) Read story here and his study here.

Reading this carefully, it seems to suggest the money landed in the river, washed up on a sandbar, and was covered by wave action. In other words, it wasn’t intentionally buried. The deteriorated condition of the bills is consistent with having been in water, then in the ground for a long time.

This implies Cooper landed in the river, was dead or drowned, and river currents eventually washed these bills ashore. Of course, that’s been suspected for many years. This would explain why Cooper was never heard from again and no more money turned up anywhere. If he’s in the river, his remains could be buried by sediment. The rest of the money also could be buried in the river bottom, along the river banks, or have washed out to sea.

Cooper could have hit the river a considerable distance away upstream, and the money floated downstream for miles to its burial site.

The $6,000 the boy found was positively identified as part of the $200,000 ransom delivered to Cooper in Seattle by its serial numbers.

There’s been a great amount of speculation about how it ended up there, one theory being that Cooper dropped it during the jump. That leaves open the possibility the money fell into the river and he landed safely farther south.

Yeah, I know what you’re thinking. I have a neighbor who looks like D. B. Cooper, too. We all do.


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