Wednesday, March 26, 2008

D. B. Cooper (Todd Snider)

This news story came across the AP wires this morning... at about the same time this poem's e-newsletter arrived in my inbox - somehow, in my metempsychotic (I learned a new word today!) brain, they seemed to fit... :-)

March 26, 2008

It's dirty and it's old, but a piece of cloth found in a Washington field might hold the key to solving one of the FBI's most enduring mysteries.

On Nov. 24, 1971, an unassuming man wearing a business suit and appearing to be in his mid-40s allegedly hijacked and threatened to blow up a Northwest Orient Airlines plane traveling from Portland, Ore., to Seattle if he did not get four parachutes and a $200,000 ransom.

When the plane landed in Seattle, the suspect, known only as Dan Cooper or D.B. Cooper, allowed the passengers and two flight attendants off the plane, and the officials handed over the money, in $20 bills, and the parachutes.

According to the FBI, Cooper simply told the remaining crew to "fly to Mexico" after they took off from Seattle.

"Back in the early '70's, late '60's, hijackings weren't uncommon. The philosophy of the day was cooperate. Comply with his demands and we'll deal with it when the plane lands," said Larry Carr, an FBI special agent who manages the case out of the bureau's office in Seattle.

In a daring getaway, Cooper jumped out of the speeding 727, thousands of feet over the Pacific Northwest, during a raging storm. Cooper disappeared, and is still missing today, despite a massive manhunt.

In 1980, the case was put in the spotlight once again, after a young boy found $5,800 in $20 bills from the ransom money decomposing along the banks of the Columbia River.
But no Cooper.

Countless suspects have emerged, but none have turned out to be the mystery man. In 2001, the FBI extracted a DNA sample from the J.C. Penney tie he was wearing on the flight and left behind before jumping, but that sample hasn't matched up with anyone in the investigators' sights.

Cooper's story became the stuff of lore, even a movie. Now, more than three decades later, the FBI has the possibility of a breakthrough.

Two weeks ago, two children discovered a parachute buried in the dirt, in a field approximately 100 miles south of Seattle. Investigators still need to excavate part of the chute's remains.

"It's the right color, it's the right size. It's definitely the right location, so the investigation will tell," said Carr.

He told ABC News he hopes the forensic tests on the chute will be completed this weekend.

He noted that parachutes buried in the middle of nowhere aren't something found very often, so the find could offer a big break in the case if it pans out.

But does the parachute belong to Cooper? Will they find his remains? Or is this a tantalizing clue that will again lead to disappointment? Stay tuned.

POEM: Metempsychosis by Jane Hirshfield

Some stories last many centuries,
others only a moment.
All alter over that lifetime like beach-glass,
grow distant and more beautiful with salt.

Yet even today, to look at a tree
and ask the story Who are you? is to be transformed.

There is a stage in us where each being, each thing, is a mirror.

Then the bees of self pour from the hive-door,
ravenous to enter the sweetness of flowering nettles and thistle.

Next comes the ringing a stone or violin or empty bucket
gives off-
the immeasurable's continuous singing,
before it goes back into story and feeling.

In Borneo, there are palm trees that walk on their high roots.
Slowly, with effort, they lift one leg then another.

I would like to join that stilted transmigration,
to feel my own skin vertical as theirs:
an ant-road, a highway for beetles.

I would like not minding, whatever travels my heart.
To follow it all the way into leaf-form, bark-furl, root-touch,
and then keep walking, unimaginably further.

QUOTE(S): History, like a vast river, propels logs, vegetation, rafts, and debris; it is full of live and dead things, some destined for resurrection; it mingles many waters and holds in solution invisible substances stolen from distant soils." ~ Jacques Barzun

"Civilization is a stream with banks. The stream is sometimes filled with blood from people killing, stealing, shouting and doing the things historians usually record, while on the banks, unnoticed, people build homes, make love, raise children, sing songs, write poetry and even whittle statues. The story of civilization is the story of what happened on the banks. Historians are pessimists because they ignore the banks for the river." ~ Will Durant

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