D.B. Cooper expert says new evidence points to person of interest in unsolved case

A simple black necktie may be the smoking gun tosolving a mystery that has fascinated the country for 50 years: who is D.B. Cooper and what happened to him?  

On the afternoon of Nov. 24, 1971, a nondescript man calling himself Dan Cooper approached the counter of Northwest Orient Airlines in Portland. He used cash to buy a one-way ticket on Flight #305, bound for Seattle.

Shortly after the flight took off, he slipped the stewardess a note saying that he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded that she write down what he told her to. 

The stewardess made her way to the captain's cabin with Cooper's new note, which demanded four parachutes and $200,000 in twenty dollar bills. 

When the flight landed in Seattle, Cooper exchanged the flight’s 36 passengers for the money and parachutes. Cooper kept several crew members, and the plane took off again, ordered to set a course for Mexico City.

Somewhere between Seattle and Reno, a little after 8 p.m., he jumped out of the back of the plane with a parachute and the ransom money

Cooper disappeared into the night and his ultimate fate and identity remain a mystery to this day.

Or, so we thought. 

Eric Ulis, known for his History Channel and Discovery Channel investigations on Cooper's case, said he's made a breakthrough in the investigation. 

During a press conference in Vancouver on Nov. 11, Ulis said a black tie that belonged to Cooper that he left on the plane has the answers. 

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Money recovered in 1980 that matched the ransom money serial numbers. Photo from the FBI

"The tie has actually given us three very important particles that I would consider very significant," Ulis said during the press conference Friday.

"It appears to be something that can amount to commercial DNA that points to a very specific company and a very specific division within the company at a very specific time," Ulis said.

Ulis said he analyzed 2017 lab reports where an abundance of unique metal particles were found on the tie.

He was then able to match up just one Pennsylvania metal manufacturing company that was operational at the time that had special patents on those specific metals and alloys.  

He then contacted the company and looked into employees who worked there in the 1960s and 70s and traveled to Pittsburgh, where the company was based. Ulis was able to narrow it down to eight researchers working on those specific metal-type projects at the time. 

In the press conference, Ulis said a retired company manager recently told him an employee named Vince Petersen fit the bill for D.B. Cooper’s description – and was someone who regularly traveled to the Pacific Northwest on business for the company during that time period.

Petersen died back in 2002. Ulis spoke to his son, who does not believe his father is D.B. Cooper.