Could D.B. Cooper Still Be Charged if He’s Ever Found? Netflix Doc Has Viewers Asking Questions

Netflix's D.B. Cooper documentary is another in a long line of true-crime content centered on the infamous hijacker, but could he still be charged?

Mustafa Gatollari - Author

Jul. 18 2022, Published 1:51 p.m. ET

On Nov. 24, 1971, a man that newspapers reported at D.B. Cooper (an alias) ordered a bourbon and soda on a flight departing from Portland, Ore., to Seattle, Wash. He presented a bomb to a flight attendant and made a list of demands, which were fulfilled upon landing, and when the plane was re-fueled and re-routed to Reno, Nev., he jumped mid-air with a parachute along with a briefcase filled with $200,000, never to be seen again.

A trending new Netflix documentary on the mystery man has people wondering, however, if he could still be charged if found.

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Could D.B. Cooper still be charged?

The statute of limitations for federal crimes as per 18 USC 3282 states "that the government can no longer file criminal charges for an offense once 5 years has passed," even for something as headline grabbing and terrifying as an airplane hijacking.

However, there are some exceptions made to this rule.

If someone dies as a result of said hijacking and the culprit is found at any point in time, then those limitations go out the window. There have been cases, however, where the FBI was able to apprehend a suspect 19 years after they hijacked an airplane, but this was a special circumstance.

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Tom Hiddleston as D.B. Cooper in 'Loki'
Source: Disney Plus

Tom Hiddleston as D.B. Cooper in 'Loki'

According to the Chicago Tribune, Linda Joyce Grinage was still fair game for the Federal Bureau of Investigation because she'd been "indicted by a federal grand jury" for her part in a 1969 hijacking of a jet to Havana, Cuba.

As the newspaper wrote: "Because Grinage already had been indicted by a federal grand jury, there was no statute of limitations on her arrest, officials said. The statute of limitations — five years for federal crimes — only applies when no suspect has been indicted, they said."

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Since you can't indict someone without an identity, this means that even if D.B. Cooper was ever found today or if he came out in the open and said "I'm the guy who did it," he may not be charged for his crimes. However, there are various other laws having to do with specific jurisdictions, so it may not be so simple.

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In short, there are tons of laws and people who dedicate their entire lives to apply them in whatever circumstances they see fit, so while the statute of limitations on his crime has more than expired, it's difficult to imagine that someone wouldn't want to try the man for such a high-profile crime.

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Where is D.B. Cooper now?

Again, it's almost impossible to say. The Netflix docuseries on Cooper highlighted several individuals who could've been responsible for the hijacking, but perhaps the most compelling of them all is Sheridan Peterson, who passed away in 2021 in Northern California.

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His location, coupled with his past military and skydiving experiences and the fact that he worked for Boeing and was even wearing a suit that was featured in published literature from the airplane manufacturer that he himself modeled, led a lot of folks to believe he was the man who pulled off the death-defying stunt.

There's also a good chance that Cooper didn't survive the landing of wherever he ended up in the wilderness, too. Whoever he was/is, it doesn't look like his real identity will be uncovered anytime soon.

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