By Tim Binnall
The already-complex case of notorious skyjacker D.B. Cooper has seemingly become even more difficult to unravel as a new and heretofore-unmentioned suspect has been proposed. The theory surrounding this individual was detailed this week by the newspaper The Oregonian, which broke the story of an anonymous U.S. Army data analyst who is convinced that he has solved the infamous mystery of who was behind the daring 1971 mid-air heist which has captivated and confounded researchers for over 40 years.
According to the unnamed armchair investigator, the suspect in question is a man named William J. Smith. He arrived at this conclusion by way of a somewhat convoluted trail which began with a 1985 book on the case that claimed to feature communication between the author and the mysterious skyjacker. Although the work was considered to be less than honest by serious Cooper researchers, the anonymous analyst suspected that there may be a grain of truth hidden in the tale.
He managed to trace the name used by the self-proclaimed skyjacker in the book to a person with a similar moniker who appears to have been that same individual. This conclusion was based on the fact that numerous life events depicted in the book by 'Cooper' matched this man's personal history. Digging further, the dogged researcher eventually discovered that his suspected correspondent had a friend named William J. Smith who bore what he believes to be an uncanny resemblance to the FBI sketches of the skyjacker and would have had both the motivation as well as the means to pull off the caper.
While some may be skeptical of this new suspect, one Cooper investigator who has spoken to the data analyst called him "legitimate" and lauded his "substantive work." That research is now reportedly in the hands of the FBI after the unnamed man compiled his findings into a report and submitted it to the agency this past summer. As to why he has chosen to remain anonymous, the man explained that he does not want to risk his professional reputation by being linked to the case which has drawn its fair share of derisive chuckles in the past.
Be that as it may, the man has opted to reveal his research to the public as a way of possibly sparking the memory of someone who knew Smith in the past and can add new details which will help solidify his hunch. Should it turn out that this new suspect is the true D.B. Cooper, one can't help but appreciate the irony of a mysterious individual being the one to finally unmask the skyjacker. And, for those who have spend decades chasing him, they'll have a whole new rabbit hole to dive into: who was the man who solved the D.B. Cooper case?