Marla Cooper has consistently claimed she’s sure her uncle was the infamous hijacker known as DB Cooper. Police never seriously investigated her claim as their offices have been inundated with people falsely claiming familial relations with DB. Now, however, ABC has learned that new information could prove Cooper’s statements true.
ABC News aired an interview Wednesday in which Cooper restated her claim that her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, was the hijacker who took over a Northwest Orient plane in 1971. He escaped justice by parachuting from the plane with $200,000. Cooper’s mother, Grace Hailey, has also recently come forward in defense of her daughter. She believes Cooper’s uncle is the hijacker.
"I've always had a gut feeling it was L.D.," Hailey told ABC News. "I think it was more what I didn't know is what made me suspicious than what I did know, because whenever the topic came up it immediately got cut off again."
Cooper told ABC that she has provided police with her uncle’s guitar strap in order for it to be tested for fingerprints. The FBI has concluded that the strap is not conducive for lifting fingerprints.
The FBI told the Seattle Times on Monday that agents are trying to obtain other items to lift fingerprints. Fred Gutt, spokesman for the FBI, said the case isn't a high priority, but the information can't be ignored.
“It's a very unique case … Agents have been actively assigned to it and it's passed on from generation to generation of agents that have worked leads as they have developed," Brad Garrett, an ABC News consultant and former FBI profiler, told ABC.
Cooper said she first became suspicious of her uncle when she had a conversation with her father in 1995 before he died.
"My father made a comment about his long lost brother, uncle L.D., and said he thought he was still alive but hiding from the FBI, and I questioned why he would be hiding … He said don't you remember he hijacked that airplane?" said Cooper, according to ABC.
Cooper said it was also strange that in 1972 her uncle seemed to have vanished from her family’s life.
The family was notified that he had died in 1999.
So far, Lynn Doyle Cooper matches the FBI’s general suspicions. Lynn Doyle was a Vietnam vet and the police say the hijacker must have had a military background. Also, Hailey added that Lynn Doyle grew up in Sisters ,Ore., and knew the area where the hijacker jumped very well. The FBI theorizes that DB Cooper had to have known the Pacific Northwest region.
The hijacker gave his name as Dan Cooper. Shortly after the plane took off in 1971, he announced he had a bomb, compelling the crew to land the plane in Seattle. This is where the passengers were exchanged for ransom money and parachutes. The flight then resumed, heading for Mexico, with the hijacker and flight crew on board. The man then escaped by parachuting from the plane.