DNA Proves Inconclusive in ‘D.B. Cooper’ Skyjacking Case

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Uncertainty remains the name of the game in the “D.B. Cooper” hijacking, as DNA testing couldn’t pin down a new suspect in the 1971 case.

While failing to match DNA from a new suspect to DNA found on the hijacked plane doesn’t preclude that new suspect—who happens to also be deceased—from being involved, it does put a damper on the excitement surrounding the new revelations. Plus, there’s hope that more items from the new suspect provided by his family could yield differing results.

The renewed interest in the nation’s only unsolved hijacking comes after a woman in Oklahoma stepped into the public eye with the theory that her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, is the real D.B. Cooper.

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As an 8-year-old living in eastern Oregon at the time of the hijacking, Marla Cooper says she pieced together memories—including conversations prior to the Thanksgiving-eve hijacking and memories of her uncle returning home shortly thereafter with injuries—brought her to the new conclusion. And now she is writing a book on the subject.

This first round of DNA tests compared a necktie left behind on the plane originally bound for Seattle from Portland. The hijacker—authorities aren’t even sure his name was D.B. Cooper—took control of the aircraft by claiming he had a bomb and traded the passengers for $200,000 in ransom in Seattle before ordering the flight crew to take off again. Cooper then parachuted from the plane somewhere near the Washington-Oregon border. While some law enforcement officials questioned whether the hijacker could have survived, no body was ever recovered.

That tie left behind, though, may not have even been Cooper’s. With three different DNA samples on it, questions abound. Either way, comparing the tie to fingerprints from Lynn Doyle Cooper’s old guitar strap didn’t match, but the FBI wants to try more items from the family, says Special Agent Fred Gutt.

As long as the FBI keeps testing new items, the nation can keep guessing on the facts of this 40-year-old crime before time puts an end to ever figuring out who D.B. Cooper really is.

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Tim Newcomb is a contributor for TIME. Find him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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