One of the great Northwestern mysteries is what in the heck ever happened to D.B. Cooper. I am generally interested in criminal folk heroes and have been acquainted with Mr. Cooper for quite a number of years. I remembered he was vaguely supposed to have manifested in this part of the country, but it wasn't until the recent Oregonian article on his continuing saga that I realized that the legend of D.B. Cooper is based right here in Portland. Here's the tale, roughly:
In 1971, he hijacked a Boeing 727 Northwest Orient airliner and threatened to blow it up. Through hostage negotiations, he extorted $200,000 and then leaped from the airborne 727 with a parachute somewhere over the vast forested wilderness of Portland, near the Columbia river. He was never seen again—dead or alive. D.B. Cooper and the money were gone into thin air. In February 1980, an eight-year-old found $5,880 in decaying $20 bills along the river, which proved to be part of the original ransom. Folks have speculated that he must have crashed and died. But nary a trace of him was ever recovered. So is D.B. Cooper my landlord? Is he living out by the coast? Did he land in the river and get eaten by a sturgeon? We do not know. The authorities say he didn't survive the crash, but never recovered a body. So who the hell knows?
What I did find out, on inquiry, is that the D.B. Cooper matter is an open investigation by the FBI in Oregon and a federal assistant United States Attorney who I am friendly with has been tasked with bringing D.B. to justice, should he ever be found. In the Fort Worth/Dallas area where I grew up, the local conspiracy theorists are dialed into Lee Harvey Oswald and the magic bullet. Out here, the amateur sleuths theorize on D.B. Cooper and what became of that daring mad man and all that cash. The case is still considered unsolved and is one of the most extensive American manhunts of the 20th century.
I am hoping if he is ever found that he will have spent that $200K, be without the financial resources to retain counsel, and that I can represent him because that would be very cool.
It Ends With a Fall - Okkervil River
Take Me To the River - Talking Heads