Hi all, Billy Jensen here. I’ll be featured on HISTORY’s D.B. Cooper: Case Closed? this Sunday and Monday, July 10th & 11th. As a crime journalist, I’ve focused on unsolved cases and citizen detectives, and have immersed myself in the evidence of D.B. Cooper. Looking forward to your questions and theories today! I’ll be back here at 1pm EST.

EDIT: That's a wrap. Thanks everyone for your questions. Feel free to keep asking and I will check back in soon. And no, it wasn't aliens.

Proof: http://imgur.com/a/smOvV

Comments: 1003 • Responses: 81  • Date: 

Sockdad897 karma

Any chance this will be an hour long with a voice-over saying something along the lines of "How did he do it? When we return I will recap everything you just saw and then show you glimpses of the next act just so we can repeat this again. This will go on until the very end when I will say 'no one really knows the truth'"?

Or... Is there a chance this is an actual story with an ending explaining everything?

ConstableGrey279 karma

Betteridge's law of headlines is an adage that states: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no"

BillyJensen116 karma

I do not think the use of the question mark was warranted, but I didn't name the special.

Lebowskis_Sweater159 karma

[deleted]

BillyJensen67 karma

Yes, I did. But it was voted down. https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/4rvmrn/im_billy_jensen_from_historys_new_special_db/d54h348

I can also confirm that there is no "chance this will be an hour long with a voice-over." It is my understanding that it's four hours.

BillyJensen-7 karma

Sockdad, there is always a chance :) I will say that it is the most exhaustive investigation TV has ever seen on this case, and we talk to people and uncover facts that have never been uncovered.

philipquarles101 karma

Long voice-over with lots of recapping and no conclusions confirmed.

KnifevsFace7 karma

It will also be the same voice over guy from forensic files I bet.

BillyJensen3 karma

Not sure who did the voiceover, but I am sure he has a deeper voice than me.

nothumbnails10 karma

Can you just come out and say if it was 3 inept kayakers that were rescued by an unnamed mountain man who discovered his stash?

BillyJensen6 karma

No, I cannot. But if this a comedy script of yours, I might be interested. Who plays the mountain man?

Sockdad5 karma

I only know about D.B. Cooper thanks to a quest in a game called 4x4 Evo (I think). So if this will enlighten me a bit more, I'm in! However if this is a trick I will go full Liam Neeson on the producer of the show :-)

BillyJensen15 karma

So you are saying you have a particular set of skills, Sockdad?

pacotaco724489 karma

Can you give History channel a message for me? Can you tell History channel to quit being stupid and put some education on its channel? remember modern marvels?

BillyJensen148 karma

You are going to learn a lot in this one--from aviation to psychology.

NativePortlandian128 karma

Are aliens mentioned?

BillyJensen195 karma

No, there are no aliens mentioned. In fact, while conspiracy theories did come up during the interviews, aliens were never mentioned.

durandall0823 karma

THIS IS WHAT I WANT TO KNOW!

BillyJensen74 karma

The hair doesn't match.

MoKenna132 karma

Do we believe there is any link to Kid Rock to this unsolved case? For example, in the song Bawitaba, Kid Rock says hes doing it for "DB Cooper and the money he took". Sounds like a little bit too much of a coincidence to me...

BillyJensen174 karma

No, While Bawitaba is a great example of late 90s aggro rock, it has little to do with the case.

faceisamapoftheworld55 karma

What's your opinion of Huey Lewis?

SirMeowMixxalot178 karma

Their early work was a little too new wave for my tastes, but when Sports came out in '83, I think they really came into their own, commercially and artistically.

BillyJensen233 karma

Thank you, Mr. Bateman.

SadMunkey98 karma

Have you seen the movie "Without a Paddle"?

love that movie.

BillyJensen100 karma

Starring Seth Green and Dax Shepard! No, I have not.

sipswhiskey14 karma

I don't think the exclamation point is warranted.

BillyJensen13 karma

heh, I agree.

suaveitguy84 karma

Betteridge's law would tell us the case isn't closed. Are you satisfied you solved it?

BillyJensen100 karma

I personally don't think the question mark is warranted in the title.

suaveitguy59 karma

What did you find out that was new? How were you able to find it after all this time?

BillyJensen122 karma

We learned from interviewing the co-pilot that the flight path that was charted was not the path that he took. He sheepishly admitted it, as he was zig-zagging since he was flying by hand. He said he had never told anyone. So the drop zone could have been different.

ncbell1338 karma

Why would he lie about not flying on the charted path? That seems like a major break in the case.

BillyJensen134 karma

It was close. I'm talking within a few miles. But when he told us, it felt like that scene in Raiders--"They're digging in the wrong place!"

VacantThoughts31 karma

Probably still employed with the air line at the time and didn't want to get fired.

BillyJensen23 karma

The crew all did such a great job, that was not a possibility .

TheBimpo53 karma

Was Todd Snider consulted to be the musical director of the show?

BillyJensen42 karma

no, but I know he plays Phoenix tonight!

Tehni39 karma

There was a post on Reddit I read awhile ago about DB Cooper and a redditor said he thought his dad actually was DB Cooper and listed some explanation as to why he thought so. It sounded pretty genuine to me, maybe someone else can link to it.

So my question is, have you heard of that or looked into that at all?

Edit: found it https://www.reddit.com/r/todayilearned/comments/27vupd/til_there_is_only_one_unsolved_airline_hijacking/ci5afeu

BillyJensen16 karma

I did a lot of research, including on reddit, but I'd have to see the link first. There were a bunch of those stories.

turnthepagekid35 karma

Do you consider yourself to be someone who is inclined to see validity in conspiracy theories? Or has your experience investigating unsolved cases lead you to become more, for lack of a better word, pessimistic about such theories? If you you see yourself as more of the former, what do you have to say to those that refuse to give credence to such theories?

BillyJensen82 karma

I have been working cases for 20 years, and I must say I subscribe to Occam's razor more often than not.

riograndekingtrude32 karma

So, who is DB Cooper?

BillyJensen95 karma

Thank you for cutting right to the chase RioGandreKingtrude! I can safely say who DB Cooper isn't. Not the guy from Prison Break, and not Don Draper.

The_Broadcaster28 karma

Your Take? Could this be the area where more money might be found?, and if found whose is it? - The "Palmer Report" stemmed from the FBI bringing in Portland State University geologist Dr. Leonard Palmer to analyze the sand bar where the money was found. In between the 1971 hijacking and the 1980 money find, the Columbia River was dredged and sand was deposited on Tena Bar in 1974. Palmer's report determined that the money was in a layer of top sand laid down by the dredging. This implied that the money was somewhere else upstream for years before coming to rest on Tena Bar. The counterpoint was that the delicate rubber bands were still intact on the bundles when found. The bands pointed to an earlier time frame for the money coming to rest on Tena

BillyJensen40 karma

The thing that prevents me from believing the dredge theory is exactly what you said--the rubber bands. The rubber bands were intact. Tests showed that those bands wouldn't have lasted a year in those conditions. I think the money was buried.

TheTerje26 karma

Are you Doobie Keebler?

BillyJensen65 karma

I am not answering that question, Matthew.

JamesRenner26 karma

Hi Billy! Can't wait to see the special. Couple questions:

  1. Did anyone recreate the jump?
  2. Did you travel into the woods to look for the body?
  3. Any 'squatch sightings up there? :)

BillyJensen35 karma

  1. No. It has been done in the past though.
  2. I did, but not as long as I would have liked.
  3. It's not as woodsy as you might think. So no Bigfoot.

suaveitguy22 karma

Why did DB Cooper capture so many people's imaginations?

BillyJensen55 karma

Because this guy was on our radar for a handful of hours, and we know nothing about him. It was a big crime, that has many rabbit holes to go down, and since no one died, there are a lot (and I mean A LOT) of people who have claimed they were DB Cooper, or their relatives were. and I have yet to meet an IT guy that wasn't suave.

CloudEngineer26 karma

I have yet to meet an IT guy that wasn't suave.

Wait, are we thinking about the same kind of IT here?

BillyJensen24 karma

if there's one thing I have learned--always be nice to your IT guy.

keithkman19 karma

What are the odds he died jumping out of the airplane?

BillyJensen61 karma

We were on a 727, and I went down those aft stairs. Standing on them (on the ground), and thinking about the wind and rain coming at you, having only 5,000 feet of clearance before you hit the ground, and some of the things we learn about the chute he used...it is definitely a possibility.

suaveitguy19 karma

How much of the money was recovered?

BillyJensen35 karma

$5,800 was recovered along the river, very far from the drop zone.

timothymccaslin15 karma

What was the most challenging aspect of the case to wrap your mind around?

Also, I'd like more proof you are who you say you are. I will accept this proof in the form of D.B. Coopers stash mailed to my P.O. Box for serial number verification.

Thank you for your compliance.

BillyJensen18 karma

The most frustrating was going through security at every airport, and thinking--if only they had this when he was around, and I wouldn't be flying up to Portland and Seattle looking for him. There is no photo of him at all, so that was the most challenging.

And please send me your PO Box and I will get a 20 out to you, and you can match the serial number up with the list.

suaveitguy13 karma

Any personal anecdotes about Cooper from passengers? Did he tell jokes or interact with them? Did he seem personable and relaxed?

BillyJensen25 karma

He was as suave as could be for a guy with a "bomb" next to him. But one of the most interesting things came from the guy sitting across the aisle from him. Bill Mitchell was a young, good looking guy, and he was upset that the stewardess had taken a seat and was spending so much attention to this other guy, so he started picking him apart in this head.

DeftShark7 karma

Not a passenger per sae, but, what did the stewardess learn is what I think the poster was after.

BillyJensen23 karma

He was calm at first, polite, but then would get agitated when the money and the chutes weren't getting there fast enough on the ground. He used the term "no funny stuff" a lot.

suddenly_mozzarella22 karma

He used the term "no funny stuff" a lot.

So he was a nihilist, then?

BillyJensen21 karma

In the Walter Sobchak definition of nihilist? Perhaps he was.

suaveitguy12 karma

How do you feel about DB Cooper? Anti-hero or crook?

BillyJensen22 karma

He is a crook.

tweenerdan9 karma

What's the biggest factor pointing to DB Cooper dying in the jump and surviving the jump and getting away with it?

BillyJensen15 karma

Well, the biggest factor is no body or chute was ever found. Putting on the parachute myself, the one he chose was rigged in a way where the ripcord was close to the back. It would be very difficult to reach and pull.

MenShouldntHaveCats8 karma

Are we going to expect anything new here, or is it the same ol' lady who overheard her uncle and dad talking about it at thanksgiving and then his money problems went away?

BillyJensen12 karma

There is a lot more. We do talk the lady you are referring to though. See my face during that interview and judge my reaction when you watch the show.

Luis7077 karma

Has there been any new evidence uncovered since Brad Meltzer's Decoded episode about Cooper?

BillyJensen13 karma

Yes there has been. We uncovered new evidence, and spoke to people he did not, including the first interview in 44 years with the stewardess who spent the most time with him.

keitroll7 karma

The D.B. Cooper skyjacking is far and away the most (in)famous of those attempted in its era. Did you have to explore skyjacking as a whole in order to get a sense of the D.B. Cooper incident, and if so, what is the most interesting of these early 70's crimes that doesn't get as much attention as Northwest Orient Flight 305?

BillyJensen10 karma

I did look into a lot of them. The reason this was so unique, was that it was on the west coast, and it was for money, not politics. This ushered in a whole new thought of--instead of a bank, I should do rob a plane. And I think McCoy's case should get more attention, as we know he survived, but since it wasn't a mystery, it doesn't get play

MoKenna6 karma

Ive always thought DB stood for Douchebag Cooper, is this true?

BillyJensen17 karma

Hi MoKenna, in our investigation, the name DB came from a mishearing from a reporter. So the Douchebag theory is a no.

sergeantmunch5 karma

I kind of always ask people the same question because their answers fascinate me: why'd you choose to go into your field?

BillyJensen20 karma

Because I hate the guy who thinks he got away with it.

Fumblerful-5 karma

Many people here are focusing on your upcoming documentary but I want to know something about you. Do you prefer waffles or pancakes?

BillyJensen20 karma

Waffles. But if the pancakes have chocolate chips, I will go for it.

StuffHobbes4 karma

Just one question:
Why haven't you caught me yet?
Muwah-HAHAHAHA!!

BillyJensen12 karma

I thought you were Batman.

ImIncognitus3 karma

Hey Billy! First off, I love Luna already. Sweet pup.

Second, would you consider trying to find out what happened to the Sodder kids? I would love to see the area that the dirt was spread over the ashes sifted and gone through to search for bones. It seems like something History Channel could use to boost up their programming. Plus that's my pet case and I'm ridiculously curious about it.

Third, I'll set my DVR right now for your show. I'm fascinated by DB Cooper! Thanks for the AMA!

BillyJensen4 karma

You are the second person to mention the Sodder kids. I would be up for doing that case for sure.

explodedsun3 karma

Is MF Doom like DB Cooper?

BillyJensen6 karma

Cooper didn't wear a mask, so far as we know. But both do have supervillain personas.

at4243 karma

Hi Billy, off subject a bit, will Michele Mcnamaras book on the ear/ons/gsk ever be published? Thanks man..

BillyJensen3 karma

yes, it will be, by hell or high water. We are working on it.

Im_Tiny_Rick2 karma

You couldn't smile in your proof picture?

BillyJensen4 karma

Tiny Rick, I'd like to introduce you to my mom :)

BookerTeet2 karma

Is this airing on the regular history channel or H2? I'm praying for the first because I would love to see some actual decent tv on it for once (looking at you Rick and co)

Love anything to do with DB Cooper. Very excited for this!

BillyJensen5 karma

The regular History Channel, July 10 and 11, 9pm eastern.

The_UnApologist2 karma

Hey I have question. How much will this show delve into Ancient Aliens, Atlantis and Bigfoot?

Being a "History Channel" show, will there be lots of hypothetical theories on how any of the three might've had something to do with DB Cooper and the money he stole?

BillyJensen4 karma

No aliens, no Atlantis, and no Bigfoot.

3rd_Step2 karma

Any time a person from the media puts a question mark at the end of their headline/title, the answer is more than likely "No"

Based on this, and the fact that you work for the History Channel, I'm assuming the answer is "No, it was aliens".

How'd I do?

BillyJensen4 karma

We do not cover the alien theory.

don_majik_juan2 karma

Why did he need 4 pair-of-shoes when he jumped from the plane?

BillyJensen6 karma

I see what you did there.

Zero7CO2 karma

Two questions for you:

  1. What % chance would you put it at that he survived the parachute jump (guesstimating of course)?

  2. Are there any suspects that stand-ahead of the others, or is he a true, absolute mystery?

BillyJensen3 karma

Zero, % chance is a tough one, and I go back and forth on it. He could have survived--it was a survivable jump, according to the jumpers we met.

and there are a couple of suspects that stand up for sure, but there is also a hole in the search I think needs to be filled.

suaveitguy1 karma

What are your preliminary steps in an investigation? If someone hired you and said you have access to a million dollars and six months to track down some bankrobber who fled the US to Angola in 1970 - what would you do to find them?

BillyJensen3 karma

First would be to identify who the guy is.

Claydogh1 karma

Do you think that you could on a plane now a days with the name D.B Cooper if you had proper Identification?

BillyJensen8 karma

Sure. It wasn't even the name he wrote down on the ticket. He wrote Dan Cooper. So if you had proper ID, then I don't see why not. So if you are thinking of naming your next child DB Cooper, go ahead, but be prepared for questions.

masterstick81 karma

Whats the most famous case you've worked on besides the DB Cooper one? Follow up to that, have you ever read about the "Disappearance of the Sodder Children"?

Also

this Sunday and Monday, July 10th & 11th.

Come on buddy you can't pique my interest and then make me wait lol

BillyJensen4 karma

For redittors, it might be Maura Murray. I wrote about that case for Boston Magazine. I also wrote about the Luka Magnotta case for Rolling Stone. I have read about the Sodder case--they disappeared after the fire in West Virginia.

swordgeek1 karma

Can we assume that Betteridge's law will be in effect here?

That is to say, "Case Closed?" It ends in a question mark, therefore NO!!!

And for that matter, is any of the stuff you're doing actually journalism, or is it just sensationalist TV?

BillyJensen2 karma

I personally don't think the question mark is warranted in the title. And if journalism is knocking on people's doors, talking to eyewitnesses, scientists and law enforcement in an attempt to tell a complete picture of what happened, then I would say yes.

incognitoLaw1 karma

Who paid for your services? How did you prove a strong record of success?

BillyJensen12 karma

History Channel paid for my services. They brought myself and a former FBI agent (actually former assistant director), to vet a theory. But before we did so, we investigated from scratch.

incognitoLaw4 karma

That's what I meant. Before the History Channel recruited you....who paid for your services? How did you afford acquiring that experience?

BillyJensen5 karma

The theory that we are vetting is a team of 40 investigators, helmed by two journalists. As far as I know, they were not funded.

suaveitguy1 karma

At what part of the investigation was the special greenlit? If nothing new had been uncovered, would it have still been produced?

BillyJensen2 karma

I wasn't a producer on this one, so I can't answer the greenlight question for certain, but I was brought on to vet an investigation that was going on its fifth year.

Executor211 karma

Hello, this may have been asked already but do you believe the famous composite of the suspect is accurate? Some have stated no, including the stewardess who spoke to him the most?

BillyJensen2 karma

I think it is very close. I don't like composites in general, and would have liked to have viewed each individual one before we saw the composites, but both Mitchell and the stewardess we spoke to said they were close.

suaveitguy1 karma

Any recordings or transcripts of his negotiations with FBI?

BillyJensen2 karma

We read through all of the transcripts. But he was giving his demand to the stewardess, who would then walk the note up to the cockpit. He never spoke directly with law enforcement.

DongleNocker1 karma

Why is there little to no real history content on the history channel now days? I use to love watching it to learn something from what i would best describe as PBS style documentaries. But now days it is nothing but reality TV style shows that spend half the show recapping what happened prior to commercial, which wasn't very much info anyway. It is so bad that I just can't watch it anymore.

BillyJensen2 karma

Hello, DongleNocker. I can't speak to other programming, but there is a lot of history in this one.

Claydogh1 karma

How much of the stolen money was recovered in the end?

BillyJensen3 karma

5800 bucks. That's it. I think that was the money he had taken out to tip the crew, but they refused.

Rondaos1 karma

Would you take requests for your next investigation from a random guy on Reddit? If so can I suggest Hinterkaefick?

BillyJensen2 karma

I will suggest it. Have never worked a cold case in Germany before, but would be up for it.

nachpach1 karma

Luna! How did you get so damn cute?!

thingsiloathe1 karma

Still no answer...

My theory - Luna is DB Cooper. Hiding in plane sight

NDaveT2 karma

A spy disguising himself as as dog was the plot to Monty Python sketch. The sketch aired on November 28, 1974. DB Cooper's heist occured on November 24, 1971.

I postulate that DB Cooper was one of the members of Monty Python.

BillyJensen5 karma

My son woke up one morning last week and declared he wanted to watch The Holy Grail. I was very proud.

BillyJensen3 karma

It took an hour and 40 minutes to get an Archer reference on this thing.

melchybeau1 karma

Have you made a jump from an airplane to simulate his jump?

BillyJensen2 karma

No, but others have. I thought about it for about a minute, but I don't think it would have added much. And you couldn't replicate the conditions, which were the most important.

JesterOfTheSwamp1 karma

Anyone ever tell you that you look like Dennis from Always Sunny?

BillyJensen8 karma

No they haven't. I consider myself a Frank Reynolds type.