In what may turn out to be a major breakthrough in the infamous D.B. Cooper skyjacking mystery, a group of researchers working at the behest of the FBI have uncovered a significant new clue in the case.
Going by the moniker 'Citizen Sleuths,' the cadre of scientists were granted access to physical evidence from the 1971 crime, specifically a clip-on tie discarded by Cooper during his daring heist.
The team examined the item using an electron microscope and discovered thousands of tiny particles on the clothing.
What makes the find particularly intriguing is that the particles come from rare earth elements, most notably titanium, that were only used in a handful of manufacturing processes back in 1971.
Based on these new insights, the team theorizes that Cooper worked at or in conjunction with "an exotic metal fabrication facility" of some kind that utilized the then-extremely rare titanium.
Taking the hypothesis one step further, they also suggest that the fact that these elements were found on Cooper's tie indicates that he was a manager or engineer at the plant, since only people with those roles would have been wearing such an item of clothing to work.
Given that Cooper's crime took place in the Pacific Northwest, one company has emerged as the skyjacker's possible place of employment: Boeing, which had projects that utilized those metals at the time of the heist.
The Citizen Sleuths are hoping that these findings can help to develop a potential new profile of Cooper that could be used to decipher his identity.
Members of the public who may be able to discern what these metals were used for or who have knowledge of personnel from plants where they were used at the time are urged to contact the group.
Much like DNA has been used to solve decades-old cold cases, it appears that another form of modern technology has unearthed a critical clue which had been hidden until now.
Whether the work of the Citizen Sleuths serves to finally solve the mystery of D.B. Cooper remains to be seen, but we're guessing that, if the skyjacker is still alive somewhere, he's really regretting the decision to ditch his necktie before parachuting into oblivion.
Source: KING TV - Seattle