Saturday, August 9, 2008

D. B. Cooper's loot said to be stashed in B. C.

Notorious hijacker left $200,000 in Vancouver: lawyer

One of the first topics I wrote about on this blog after expanding from Live Journal and Word Press was D. B. Cooper. While not an endorser of crime and the criminal way of life (people like Al Capone were not 'heroes' as some like to suggest), people like Baby Face Nelson, Bonnie and Clyde do hold a sort of fascination for those of us who study - things, people, etc. D. B. Cooper is no exception.

Well, there's apparently another chapter to be added in the ever-developing saga of Mr. Cooper. A Washington State lawyer claims the $200,000 legendary hijacker D. B. Cooper had with him when he jumped out of a plane is stashed in a financial institution in Vancouver.

Galen Cook, a Spokane, Wash., lawyer, said he has information suggesting the notorious hijacker was a Utah man, the late William "Wolfgang" Gossett, who confessed to his family about being the man who parachuted from an airplane with the money in 1971.

Mr. Cook, who has been following the case for more than two decades, said he will not name the Vancouver financial institution where he thinks the stolen money was cached.

"It started out with a physical profile and Gossett is a dead-on match," said Mr. Cook of his research, which he plans to turn into a book.

Mr. Gossett, who died in 2003 at the age of 73, had a military background, including wilderness survival and parachuting experience, Mr. Cook said. "Gossett certainly had the skills and ability to do it," he added.

The mystery surrounding the event continues to intrigue people and has been the subject of numerous hoaxes and a 1981 feature film.

All anyone knows for sure is that a man calling himself Dan "D. B." Cooper hijacked a Boeing 727 passenger jet on Nov. 21, 1971, after it had taken off from the airport in Portland, Ore.

During the flight, he showed a flight attendant what appeared to be a bomb in his briefcase and demanded $200,000 in cash and several parachutes. During a fuelling stop in Seattle, the other passengers were let off the plane.

A short time after leaving Seattle, Cooper strapped on one of the parachutes, opened the jet's rear door in-flight and jumped with the $200,000. Despite determined efforts by the FBI, neither the hijacker nor all of the money has ever been found.

In December, 2007, the FBI reopened its investigation into the case, releasing previously unseen photographs of evidence tied to the mid-air heist.

Mr. Cook said he has submitted Mr. Gossett's fingerprints to the FBI field office in Seattle, hoping that they match the skyjacker's.

FBI special agent Larry Carr told the Province newspaper the case has been the subject of an intense investigation.

"People are profoundly interested in this case," he said.

Agent Carr said agents have yet to make any link between Mr. Gossett and the man who jumped from the plane.

"There is no evidence to put Mr. Gossett in the Pacific Northwest in November, 1971," he said. "No aspect of the story [by Cook] can be verified."

Agent Carr said he believes the man who jumped from the plane did not survive. "I believe Cooper paid for the jump with his life," he said.

Mr. Gossett's son Kirk Gossett, 51, has no doubts -- he believes his dad was the hijacker. He lives in Gilbert, Ariz., and works at the state prison as a corrections officer.

"I honestly believe my father did that jump," he said. "He was a parachutist and had experience in low-level jumping."

And when his father talked in his dying days of being D. B. Cooper, Mr. Gossett said he felt it was true. "Every time he told me about D. B. Cooper, his story never changed," said Mr. Gossett.

He also recalls taking a trip in 1973 to Vancouver with his father. "It was a strange trip."

After spending the day in Vancouver, Mr. Gossett said they unexpectedly left for Seattle the next day. "In the morning he told me he had some business to do and about three hours later he came back and said, 'I've got everything done, it's time to go back home,' " he said. He said he believes his father had a safety deposit box at a bank in Vancouver.

The only evidence that has ever been positively identified as coming from the skyjacking is $6,000 in cash that was discovered along the banks of the Columbia River in 1980. The bills were waterlogged and destroyed, but their serial numbers were among those on the list of currency given to Cooper.

The rest of the money has never been found. The serial numbers on all of the $20 bills given to the hijacker were recorded by the authorities, but not one of the missing bills has ever turned up in circulation.

"We're working on the theory that Gossett had a safety deposit box in Vancouver," Mr. Cook said.


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