July 29, 2008— -- OGDEN, Utah (AP) -- A lawyer who is writing a book about the D.B. Cooper investigation claims the legendary hijacker who vanished from a passenger jet with $200,000 in 1971 survived and resumed his life as a college instructor.
Federal investigators are aware of the claim and are treating it like more than 1,000 other leads they have checked out over the last 36 1/2 years. They're skeptical that the late William "Wolfgang" Gossett pulled off the heist as many others have claimed but were found to be hoaxes.
"There is not one link to the D.B. Cooper case other than the statements (Gossett) made to someone," said FBI Special Agent Larry Carr, who is overseeing the Cooper investigation.
The Standard-Examiner reported Sunday that Gossett told his sons and a few friends that he was the illustrious Cooper, who investigators believe didn't survive the parachute jump over the Pacific Northwest in November 1971.
Galen Cook, a Spokane, Wash., lawyer who has been investigating the Cooper case for more than two decades, said he submitted a fingerprint of Gossett's to the FBI's Seattle office and hopes it will confirm his theory, which he plans to publish in a book.
Gossett had military experience, including wilderness survival, and resembled the FBI composite sketch of Cooper, Cook said.
"He had the opportunity, talent and motive to carry out the crime," Cook told the Standard-Examiner.
Gossett died in 2003 at age 73. His son Greg still lives in Ogden, where he said his father told him on his 21st birthday that he had hijacked the plane and revealed two keys to a safety deposit box at a bank in Vancouver, British Columbia, where he said the money was stored.
"He said that I could never tell anybody until after he died," Greg Gossett said.
Kirk Gossett, another son, says his father also told the story several times.
"He had the type of temperament to do something like this," Kirk Gossett said.
After a career in the military, the elder Gossett worked in the early 1970s as an ROTC instructor and military law instructor at Weber State University in Ogden. He also worked as a radio talk-show host in Salt Lake City, where he moderated discussions about the paranormal.
While Carr doubted that the fingerprint and hair samples Cook provided would prove anything, the FBI has heard tales that were more far-fetched.
"Everything about the case is just bizarre," Carr said.
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