"Kiddies Find Tattered Bills of D.B. Cooper Loot in Sand" near Columbia River
MUNCIE EVENING PRESS, WEDNESDAY, FEBRUARY 13, 1980 CHANCES LESS THAN 50-50 THAT 7977 SKYJACKER IS ALIVE PAGE 36 Kiddies find tattered bills of D.B. Cooper loot in sand PORTLAND, Ore. (UPI) - Children playing in the sand along the Columbia River found tattered remains of part of the loot paid to skyjacker D.B. Cooper, the first break in the case since he bailed out of a plane into a rainy night in 1971. FBI agents dug up more fragments of wet $20 bills late Tuesday along the river on the Fazio Ranch five miles west of Vancouver, Wash. FBI agent Ralph Himmelsbach, who has been on the case since the Thanksgiving Eve hijacking, said the finding of the money reduces to "less than 50-50" the odds that Cooper is still alive. Cooper's case is the nation's only unsolved aerial hijacking for ransom. Since then, 13 persons tried the same thing; three were killed and the others were captured, the FBI said. Children on a Sunday picnic found three bundles of bills - about $3,000 in $20 bills printed in 1963 and 1969 that were part of Cooper's loot. The serial numbers showed they matched the $200,000 Cooper extorted from Northwest Airlines in 1971. The partially decomposed clumps of money were to be sent to the FBI laboratory in Washington, but agents on the case were sure all of the bills found were from the loot. FBI agents were to continue searching today at the beach on the Fazio Ranch where agents Tuesday found bits of bills in the same area where the families had found the money in the sand Sunday while on a picnic. "They're very small pieces of money, about the size of a nickel," said D.B.'s admirers still throw party for him ARIEL, Wash. (UPI) - The residents of tiny Ariel say the legend of the mysterious D.B. Cooper will live on even though the FBI says some of the skyjacker's ransom money was found rotting in a river bank. "Most people around here would like to think he's alive," said Dave Fisher, owner of the Ariel Store & Tavern, where every year a party is held honoring Cooper's 1971 leap out of a Boeing 727 with $200,000. . "They will still believe he's alive until they've found the body." Like other residents of Ariel, located in the area of southwest Washington where Cooper is believed to have parachuted, Fisher speaks fondly of the -. ; A ;- it .1 Ab. FBI agent Tom Nicodemus. He said some of the pieces of money were as deep as three feet beneath the surface. "It indicates to us there's been a lot of sand shift there and the money has been there for some time," Nicodemus said. , The discovery of the money was the first solid lead in the case since Cooper jumped from a Northwest Airlines flight after a hijacking that began at Portland on Thanksgiving Eve, 1971. The middle-aged man, who actually used the name Dan Cooper on boarding the plane, told a stewardess he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded $200,000 and four parachutes and to be flown to Reno, Nev. He allowed the other passengers to leave the plane at Seattle where he got the money and chutes. After takeoff, Cooper forced the entire crew to the flight deck and while the plane was over southwest Washington he jumped with his loot into the freezing rainy night. No trace of him ever was found. His actual identity also is unknown. Because an FBI agent told a reporter the night of the hijacking that agents were checking on a man named "D.B. Cooper" that name has stuck even though the man named was found not to have been Involved. Christal Ingram, 25, of Vancouver, Wash., said the money was found by her children, Denise, 5, and Brian, who had been digging in the sand with sticks on the beach, which the ranch owners allow people to use for a 25-cent-per-car fee. "I took it out of the sand and I handed it to Brian," Denise said Tuesday. "I thought it was play money. I gave it O- :tf it. t 1 COOPER'S STASH? . . . Decomposed $20 bills are numbers showed they were identical to the bills given shown in Portland, Ore., after a check of their serial to hijacker D. B. Cooper Nov. 24, 1971. - UPI. to Brian, so he could hand it to my Aunt Cooper had possibly gone down in the The FBI said it now appeared that Pat." Lake Merwin area on Lewis River, the money might have been carried .The money was turned in to FBI since that stream feeds in the Colum- down the Washougal River, which agents, whio said the discovery bia River downstream from the Fazio flows into the Columbia about 12 miles changed the department's opinion that property. east of Vancouver.