There is a promising new lead that D.B. Cooper, the hijacker who leaped from a jetliner about 40 years ago, may have died 10 years ago of natural causes.
FBI agents are investigating whether a man who died in the Pacific Northwest is Cooper, the Seattle Times reported. The hijacker parachuted out of the back of a passenger jet in 1971 with $200,000. He was never found.
FBI agent Fred Gutt told the paper that the agency got a tip from a retired law enforcement official that the dead man could possibly be Cooper.
Agents have requested the personal effects of the possible suspect, and the FBI is trying to find fingerprints or DNA them to make comparison with items the hijacker left behind, according to the Seattle Times.
"It's not so much new information," Gutt told the Montreal Gazette. "It retained our attention about one year ago, and we've been working on it since then. It's one of the active leads for that investigation."
Gutt added that the information the agency now has "hasn't produced inconsistent information, so in that regard it's still viable, credible and active."
Three years ago, the FBI found DNA evidence on the clip-on tie Cooper left behind on the plane before he jumped.
Gutt told the Seattle Times paper that the FBI already tested an item from the dead man's belongings for fingerprints and it was inconclusive. But the agency won't stop there, as they are now working with surviving family members to gather other items for further testing, the paper reported.
More than 1,000 leads have been checked since Cooper leaped out of the jetliner on Nov. 24, 1971, over the Pacific Northwest.
Authorities believe Cooper landed in a heavily forested area of the northwestern state of Washington. He was never found, but some of the ransom money was discovered in British Columbia.
"It's still an unsolved case and in that regard we have an interest, but it's not a priority either," Gutt told the Gazette.