A prominent suspect in the infamous D.B. Cooper skyjacking case died earlier this month in Northern California, according to reports. He was 94.
The 1971 skyjacking by a man using the name Dan Cooper left the world breathless as he ransomed 36 hostages aboard Northwest Orient Flight 305 for $200,000, then parachuted from the plane with the money.
D.B. Cooper disappeared from sight and into history. His true identity remains a mystery to this day.
Sheridan Peterson was a primary suspect. The investigation focuses on his experience as a smokejumper, his love of skydiving and taking physical risks, and even reportedly “experimenting with homemade bat wings,” according to The Oregonian.
Peterson died Jan. 8, according to Legacy.com, a memorials website. The circumstances of his death are not known. He is survived by his son and daughter.
Sheridan Peterson (Legacy.com)
The California native served in the Marines during World War II and later worked as a technical editor at Boeing, based in Seattle, Fox News reported
A stash of money was found buried along the Columbia River near Portland, Ore., in 1980, but the FBI continued its manhunt. The case remains the only unsolved skyjacking in U.S. history, with many interesting candidates topping the list of suspects.
Pheonix entrepreneur Eric Ullis spent years trying to figure out D.B. Cooper’s identity. In the end, Ullis was “98%” certain that Peterson was the man behind the famous heist, according to reports.
Peterson flirted with the idea that he was D.B. Cooper on a number of occasions: He most prominently toyed with suspicion in a 2007 issue of Smokejumper, a magazine published by the National Smokejumper Association.
“Actually, the FBI had good reason to suspect me,” Peterson wrote. “Friends and associates agreed that I was without a doubt D.B. Cooper. There were too many circumstances involved for it to be a coincidence.”
“At the time of the heist, I was 44 years old,” Peterson explained. “That was the approximate age Cooper was assumed to have been, and I closely resembled sketches of the hijacker.”
Peterson also admitted that he did himself no favors when photos surfaced from a Boeing news sheet that showed him dressed in the exact same formal attire reportedly worn by D.B. Cooper during the heist. Peterson insisted that he was in Nepal at the time of the skyjacking. Nevertheless, the FBI continued to monitor him as a prime suspect.
Other possible suspects included Robert Rackstraw and William J. Smith, Fox reported. Rackstraw died in 2019 at the age of 75.