D.B. Cooper, the FBI, and Me

blog post
On this date, November 24, 1971, an FBI agent introduced himself at our apartment door at Central Washington University’s Student Village.

The agent asked if I would mind being interviewed in his car so he could follow an event on his radio.

Who refuses a reasonable request by a polite FBI agent?

Not me!

I sat in the passenger seat of his sedan and he warned me that lying to him was a felony. Our conversation was interrupted by a play-by-play of the securing of the money Dan Cooper demanded for release of passengers on Northwest Orient Airlines Flight #305. I don’t remember much of our conversation that was centered around an incident I’d reported to Portland, OR, and Ellensburg, WA, police.

In early August of 2011, KATU (Portland, OR) TV reporter Joe English was looking for local color about the incident at Ariel, WA. Each year on the Saturday after Thanksgiving, the Ariel Store & Tavern hosted “DB Cooper Days” – a celebration of the man, the myth and the legend that is DB Cooper.

English’s queries lead to a conversation with a parent of my grandchildren’s friend. Because of that conversation, English called me saying he had interviewed a woman who said something about my being the man who had driven Cooper to the airport in Portland, OR, before the hijacking. My grandkids knew the story, but apparently something got lost in the translation when it was shared with their friends.

I’d never written anything about the incident, but after a call from a Vancouver newspaper reporter the day after Joe English’s call, my wife encouraged me to write it up and submit it to the newspaper to clarify what had been misinterpreted. The Columbian “Everyone has a Story” forum seemed to be a good choice. It published my story on August 21, 2011 as: “Carjacking still has media asking about Cooper.”

The story limited to 1000 words is posted on I, JMB Say

I slept a few hours after returning home and made a report at the Ellensburg Police Department. They put together a composite picture for their records. The sketch was used in an article published in the Ellensburg Daily Record.
DB and him

There were a few similarities[mfn]Cooper sketch – C with added hair – the guy sketch[/mfn] to the description of the airplane hijacker and the person who had taken me to Portland. However, the dissimilarities were enough to discount the person to whom I had given a ride as a possible suspect. My being carjacked the day before the mystery man hijacked the Northwest Orient Airlines Boeing 727 that Thanksgiving eve is only another contribution to the multiple myths and speculations about the real story. I’m sure the myths and speculations will continue, and I’ll still be thankful that my coincidence was only as it was.

Several news teasers over the years said new evidence was discovered that may lead to the infamous DB Cooper’s identification. However, on July 12, 2016, the FBI announced it was officially closing the Cooper investigation. The unsolved case of the hijacking and the disappearance of the suspect became considered one for the history books – or is it?