Image: FBI sketch of D.B. Cooper
Ho  /  REUTERS
The accused skyjacker known as D.B. Cooper is shown in these FBI sketches.
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updated 8/8/2011 7:21:30 PM ET 2011-08-08T23:21:30

The FBI says DNA found on the tie of hijacker D.B. Cooper does not match a new suspect in the case.

Special Agent Fred Gutt cautioned that the test does not necessarily rule out the deceased suspect because investigators do not know whether DNA on the tie is that of the hijacker. Gutt said there are three different DNA samples on the tie and that it's possible it had been used previously by other people.

Story: FBI: 'D.B. Cooper' lead points to man dead for 10 years

Gutt says the FBI had an inconclusive round of fingerprint testing and that investigators are now working with family members to identify items that could be tested further for fingerprints.

Federal investigators have checked hundreds of leads since the man dubbed "D.B. Cooper" parachuted from a flight with $200,000 dollars in ransom in 1971.

One of the greatest unsolved mysteries
For nearly 40 years, the FBI has chased the ghost of the man responsible for the nation's only unsolved hijacking, with each exhausted lead growing his stature in American folklore.

What investigators do know is that on Nov. 24, 1971, a man in his mid-40s and wearing dark sunglasses boarded a Boeing 727 at Portland International Airport. With a ticket under the name Dan Cooper, he took seat 18F, ordered a bourbon and water.

Then he handed a flight attendant a note: "Miss, I've got a bomb, come sit next to me — you're being hijacked."

Cooper (a law enforcement official later erroneously referred to him as "D.B." and the initials stuck) opened a briefcase that appeared to contain explosives and demanded $200,000 and parachutes. Officials met his demands when the plane landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, where passengers and two flight attendants were released.

The man in 18F then ordered the flight crew to take the plane back into the air, insisting that it fly at an altitude of no more than 10,000 feet on its way to Mexico through Reno, Nevada.

About 40 minutes after takeoff, a signal light in the cockpit showed that the plane's rear stairway had been extended. When the jet landed in Reno, the stairs were down and two parachutes, the money and Cooper were gone.

A few years ago, the FBI renewed its push to solve the case, releasing photos and new case details in the hopes of jogging memories or prompting someone to come forward.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Video: FBI gets new lead in D.B. Cooper case

  1. Transcript of: FBI gets new lead in D.B. Cooper case

    BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor (Washington, DC): There is word tonight of some fresh evidence in one of the great mysteries in modern American history . It's been 40 years since a guy known as D.B. Cooper exited the rear door of a passenger jet while it was flying with nothing but a parachute and $200,000 in cash, after pulling off the only unsolved hijacking in US history . But we never really did learn who he was. Now that could change as the FBI is back on the trail. Our report tonight from our justice correspondent Pete Williams .

    PETE WILLIAMS reporting: On the stormy night before Thanksgiving 40 years ago, a neatly dressed man claiming to have a bomb hijacked a Northwest Airlines jet. He allowed the plane to land in Seattle to let out the passengers, demanded parachutes and a ransom, and once airborne again, jumped out of the plane and into legend.

    Unidentified Reporter: Law officers in four western states this evening are searching for a man who is perhaps the most clever and certainly the most audacious airplane hijacker of all time.

    P. WILLIAMS: Only a fraction of the $200,000 he took with him has ever been found -- along the Columbia River in Washington state -- but not a trace of him. Now the FBI is chasing a new lead, based on a tip investigators consider credible. They're studying fingerprints from their latest suspect to see if they match prints found on the plane and on items he left behind before he jumped out. He called himself Dan Cooper , and the FBI has already examined more than 1,000 possible suspects. Some investigators believe he took that name from the hero of French comic books about a skydiving pilot. Because the comics were never translated, agents believe the hijacker spent time overseas, maybe in the US Air Force . The author of a new book about the 40-year-old mystery says it has an enduring appeal.

    Mr. GEOFFREY GRAY (Author, "Skyjack: The Hunt for D.B. Cooper"): The courage that it took to actually have the guts to jump out of a plane over the middle of nowhere , Pacific Northwest mountain land, I mean, that is an act of courage that I think we all sort of secretly wish we might be able to have, but don't.

    P. WILLIAMS: The FBI admits this new lead was a long shot, and the initial results have not been promising. But they still want to know, who really was behind the nation's only unsolved airplane hijacking? Pete Williams , NBC News, Washington.

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