At the FBI, Cold Cases Are Not a Thing of the Past

D.B. Cooper, Whitey Bulger. … As bureau turns 100, director mulls open cases.

ByABC News via logo
July 19, 2008, 4:03 PM

July 19, 2008 — -- The Federal Bureau of Investigation will turn 100 on July 26. Through the years the FBI has nabbed some of America's most notorious gangsters, but there are plenty of cold cases that have eluded them.

They are the mysteries, the unsolved cases that bedevil an agency that prides itself on capturing the fugitive. The most obvious is the hunt for Osama Bin Laden, the Sept. 11 suspected mass murderer, who is at the top of the FBI's famed Ten Most Wanted list.

FBI historian John Fox said Bin Laden "is the first murderer on that scale" that's made the list.

But beyond Bin Laden, FBI Director Robert Mueller says there are many mysteries the FBI wants solved such as the anthrax attacks. Five people were killed, 17 sickened and nearly seven years later no arrest appears imminent.

"I never give time frames, because you never know where you'll have sufficient evidence to go public with a prosecution," Mueller said.

Many of the unsolved cases are decades old, such as the one involving former Teamsters' president, Jimmy Hoffa. He hasn't been seen since 1975. As recently as 2006, the FBI was digging up a farm in Michigan, looking for Hoffa's remains.

Then there's the hijacking mystery that became a made-for-TV movie. In 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper, who later came to be known in the media as "D.B. Cooper," hijacked and threatened to blow up a commercial airplane if he did not get a $200,000 ransom and safe passage to Mexico. In a daring getaway, Cooper jumped out of a 727 plane thousands of feet over the Pacific Northwest during a raging storm. Cooper vanished with the cash.

Just this year the FBI examined an old parachute that was found not far from where Cooper disappeared only to learn it wasn't his.

Mueller continued to list the FBI's unsolved case list. "You have Whitey Bulger out of Boston, whom we're still pursuing as a fugitive."

James J. "Whitey" Bulger is an alleged Boston mobster sought in connection with a series of vicious murders in the 1970s and '80s. On the FBI's Web site, you can find video of Bulger, as well as age-enhanced photographs and surveillance audio of Bulger's voice: