As many of you have been informed, FBI agents from the Seattle Field Office held a press conference earlier today, closing NORJAK, the official name of the D.B. Cooper case, known here unofficially as Danny Boy.
This is major news, and a monumental day in Danny Boy history, but the move by the FBI raises almost as many questions as answers. Most importantly: What does it all mean for the case?
Let me break this down. First off, we know that Danny Boy has for years been a pain-in-arse for field agents in the Seattle Bureau, most of whom have not only had to inherit the annoying and endless harangue of tippers and Cooper sleuths that have flooded their lines for decades, but also the serial Cooperites that have banked off the hijacking to get their own suspects (and personal fame) into the limelight.
With each enticing or bogus lead depending on the author (remember Marla Cooper anyone?), the FBI has been forced to spring into action, issue statements, test guitar straps for fingerprints, and on. Agents make a fair point that assigning a field agent to field requests on Danny Boy is a waste of time.
But here’s where the FBI’s announcement gets hazy.
While field agents claim they are “closing the case,” reps also say they will consider newly emerged physical evidence. According to a Bureau spokesperson:
“Although the FBI will no longer actively investigate this case, should specific physical evidence emerge — related specifically to the parachutes or the money taken by the hijacker — individuals with those materials are asked to contact their local FBI field office.”
So is the case closed or isn’t? If a tipper contacts a local FBI field office, then who back in Seattle is that local field office agent supposed to contact?
At best, the Bureau’s announcement feels rushed and timed to coordinate with a host of new Cooper shows in the works, and doesn’t even address the criminal indictment still open in the case. Can the Bureau close the case and keep the indictment against Danny Boy open? Will they move to dismiss?
Along with a host of other reasons, as I point out in this post, the Bureau still has the best lead of all, and one they don’t appear to have even tested.
When they plane was searched in Reno, agents uncovered eight Raleigh filter tipped cigarette butts, evidence that could contain the genetic profile of Danny Boy. However, it appears the cigarette butts appear to have gone either missing, or have been lost by Bureau agents.
Above anything, losing or mishandling the most critical piece of evidence might be the best reason of all to close the Cooper case. But dealing with annoying tipsters is not.