"Skyjacker Becoming Folk Hero"
D. B. Cooper, Skyjacker Becoming Folk By MARY PAT MURPHY SEATTLE, Wash. (AP) The deeds of D. B. Cooper, the mysterious hijacker who parachuted into darkness with $200,000, live on in song and T-shirt and in the minds of searchers who hope to recover the loot. D. B. Cooper, a name authorities doubt is his own, bailed out of a Northwest Airlines 727 jetliner somewhere between Seattle and Reno, Nev., on the night before Thanksgiving. With him went the $200,000 he had extorted from the airline by threatening to blow up the airliner. After about four days, the official search around Woodland, Wash., the area where Cooper was believed to have landed, was called off. But an unofficial treasure hunt began in earnest. Cowlitz County Sheriff Charles Gill says information released by the FBI indicates that if the hijacker bailed out in the Woodland area, the odds are he didn't make it safely to the ground. "Definitely the people in this area feel that if what we hear is true that he jumped near Pigeon Springs he's still up there," Gill said. DANGLING FROM TREE On the chance that D. B. Cooper may be dangling from a tree somewhere in the Washington forest with the $200,000 buried in a nearby snowbank, a number of local people have been combing the area on trail bikes, Gill said. Woodland Police Chief Joe May, a private pilot, says he has logged 20 hours in his own plane looking for the missing hijacker. Loot Still Missing "Just about all the fliers in Oregon and Washington are searching, but in my opinion some hunter will probably find him," May said. If the searchers do find the $200,000, U.S. Atty. Stan Pitkin says, the money must be returned to the airlines. Pitkin says he knows of no reward offered for recovery of the money, which was given to Cooper in $20 bills their serial numbers recorded by authorities. To the delight of promoters and the displeasure of law and airline officials, the saga of D. B. Cooper is being popularized in a twangy ballad that's sold 1,500 copies and depicted on a T-shirt that shows a parachute floating down,-.d with a case of money. The title of the song and the caption of the T shirt illustration are the same: "D. B. Cooper, Where Are You?" The shirt is the creation of Dick Kaiser, a 29-year-old restaurant employe who said he presented his first one as a joke to a deputy sheriff who predicted D. B. Cooper would be caught before Christmas Eve. Kaiser says he's since sold about 2,400 of the T-shirts at $1.50 each, wholesale, and reports orders from Texas, Arkansas, California and Nevada. Kaiser sold a number of the shirts to the gift shop at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport. A spokesman for Host Intemationl, which operates the gift shop, said the shirts were not resold and indicated it was because of Northwest's negative opinion of the venture. "I don't believe we control what the gift shop sells," an airline spokesman said. "However, I don't think they are in the best of taste." The song "D. B. Cooper, Where Are You?" has received a similarly cool reception from law enforcement officers, although several Seattle radio stations report hundreds of reguests for the record, sung by local nightclub singer Tom Bresh on the Thunder Tummy label. , "Was D. B. Cooper a Robin Hood, or just another thief in the night?" the song asks. "He took from the rich and gave it all to himself. Now was that wrong or right?" ROMANTIC TYPE "D. B. Cooper was a romantic-type figure who caught people's imagination," said the song's publisher, M. K. Bakker. "It's just this idea. Here's this guy who takes this airplane and jumps out of it who jumps out of a jet." U. S. Marshal Charles Robinson of Seattle disapproves of the image of Cooper as folk hero. "Cooper is neither a hero of sorts nor a Robin Hood by any definition," he says. "He endangered the lives of innocent people and his actions encourage similar behavior by others who might also have aberrant inclinations. "Kidnaping and threats of murder hardly, deserve glorification," Robinson said. Sheriff Gill agrees. "I am a little bit disturbed that even the general public thinks he's some kind of a Robin Hood. He isn't. Think of all the fear he put the crew through." Nonetheless, the interest continues in the mysterious Mr. Cooper. In Montana, the Helena Independent Record signed its post-Christmas editorials, "Merry Christmas D. B. Cooper, wherever you are." The paper has received no reply to its message. .1 Hero