More than four decades since D.B. Cooper pulled off a daring heist and became the only person in U.S. history to get away with a plane hijacking, a Michigan-based author says he's identified the legendary criminal.
Cooper etched his place in history on Thanksgiving Day in 1971, when he bought a one-way ticket to Seattle at the Portland International Airport in Oregon. When the plane was in the air, Cooper lit a cigarette, ordered a bourbon and soda, then conscripted a stewardess by passing a note to her.
The note read: "I have a bomb in my briefcase. I will use it if necessary. I want you to sit next to me. You are being hijacked."
Cooper demanded $200,000 in cash and four parachutes, and said he'd let the 36 passengers go if authorities gave him what he asked for. While the cash and parachutes were gathered, the passenger plane circled the airport, then landed to make the exchange. The passengers never knew they were in danger.
After that, Cooper told the captain to head toward Mexico City. He strapped the 23-pound bag of cash to himself, jumped out of the back of the 727 near Reno, Nevada, and that was the last anyone saw of him.
In the decades since, the DB Cooper case has never been solved, but author Ross Richardson's newest book, "Still Missing," points to a man named Richard Lepsy, who vanished from Grayling, Michigan, in October 1969, WZZM13 reported.
His daughter, Lisa Lepsy, told Richardson she knew immediately that Cooper and her father were the same man.
"We were all sitting on the couch watching Walter Cronkite," Lisa Lepsey told Richardson, per WZZM. "When the composite sketch of D.B. Cooper came on the TV screen, everyone looked at each other and said, 'That's dad!' We were stunned because the resemblance was unbelievable, and my brothers and I were all sure that was our dad."
There are plenty of clues that make it clear Lepsy, like Cooper, was planning on vanishing: $2,000 in cash was missing from a safe in the store he managed, his car was found abandoned at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City, Michigan, with the keys still in the ignition.
Aside from Lepsy's uncanny resemblance to forensic sketches of Cooper, a black tie he left behind in the 727 matched the kind of tie Lepsy wore at his job, and both Cooper and Lepsy wore loafers, Richardson told WZZM.
Richardson admits Lepsy is just one of several men who have been identified as Cooper. Cooper may have survived the jump, but there are many experts who believe he probably didn't, he wrote. But he still thinks it's worth a closer look.
"Can I say that Dick Lepsy is D.B. Cooper? No, I cannot; I need proof," Richardson told WZZM. "but I strongly believe the proof is out there."