FBI investigators have found new evidence in the now 45-year-old case of the missing robber D.B. Cooper.


On Thanksgiving Eve 1971, Cooper boarded a flight from Portland to Seattle, told a flight attendant he had a bomb in his suitcase, and demanded $200,000 and four parachutes. The plane landed, the FBI delivered on his demands, and the plane took off again. Cooper jumped from the back of the plane into the freezing night and was never seen again. The FBI have never solved the case and Cooper is still missing, if he survived the jump.

Today, a band of amateur scientists chosen by the FBI have been researching the case and came across a new set of clues. After analysis it has been concluded that the necktie Cooper wore and left behind contained more than 100,000 particles, including cerium, strontium sulfide and pure titanium.

“These are what they call rare earth elements. They’re used in very narrow fields, for very specific things,” said Tom Kaye, the lead researcher for Citizen Sleuths. At that time in 1971, these elements were rarely around, but they were being used for Boeing’s supersonic transport plane that was being developed by the government in the 60s and 70s. This leads them to believe that Cooper was tied to the Puget Sound aerospace industry.

Given that the particles were found on a necktie leads the researchers to believe that he was a Boeing employee but not one running the machines. “The tie went with him into these manufacturing environments, for sure, so he was not one of the people running these [manufacturing machines],” said Kaye. “He was either an engineer or a manager in one of the plants.”

Boeing was apparently developing radar screens, which used some of the elements found on the tie. Citizen Sleuths is asking the public for help, especially old-timers who might know what the elements could have been used for in the early 70s. “Someone may be able to look at those particles and say, ‘Oh my gosh. I know what that means having those particles on the tie,'” Kaye said. Tipsters can use the “contact” tab on the Citizen Sleuth website with any information.

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