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    • Sheridan Peterson, a retired teacher who’s now in his nineties, is one of the few people that the FBI has tested for DNA on DB Cooper’s tie
    • The test took place in 2004, but Peterson was never publicly cleared by the FBI 
    • Sleuth Eric Ulis believes that Peterson is the man who made off with $200,000 ransom after skydiving from a Boeing 727 near Portland, Oregon in 1971
    • Peterson, a former Marine and experienced skydiver, has rarely been mentioned in public speculation about potential suspects
    • However, that’s about to change, as Ulis has teamed up with the History Channel for its new Laurence Fishburne-hosted series, History’s Greatest Mysteries
    • A two-hour episode is devoted to a search for clues in the infamous case, called The Final Hunt for DB Cooper, will air as part of the series
    • Ulis also believes he has discovered a crucial error in the FBI’s initial search for Cooper, believing their guesstimate of the plane’s flight path was too far east
    • The Final Hunt also engages in some DNA examination based on particles pulled off Cooper’s tie, comparing DNA on it to Peterson’s granddaughter’s DNA
    • History’s Greatest Mysteries airs 9 p.m. Saturday, November 14, on History

    One of the lead suspects in the infamous DB Cooper plane skyjacking case may be ruled out as the potential culprit because he had different eyes to the hijacker and claims he’s never been a smoker, a new documentary series reveals.

    Sheridan Peterson, a retired teacher who’s now in his nineties and living in California, is one of the few people that the FBI has tested for DNA against a clip tie that DB Cooper left behind on Northwest Orient flight #305.

    The test took place in 2004, but unlike the other suspects, Peterson was never publicly cleared by the FBI, leading amateur sleuth Eric Ulis to be ’98 percent sure’ that Peterson is the man who made off with $200,000 ransom after skydiving from a Boeing 727 near Portland, Oregon in 1971.

    Peterson, a former Marine and experienced skydiver, came under FBI scrutiny immediately after the daring skyjacking took place, though he has rarely been mentioned in public speculation about potential suspects.

    However, that may be about to change, as Ulis has now teamed up with the History Channel for its new Laurence Fishburne-hosted series, History’s Greatest Mysteries, which includes a two-hour episode devoted to ‘The Final Search for DB Cooper’.

    Scroll down for exclusive video 

    Sheridan Peterson, a retired teacher who’s now in his nineties and living in California, was never publicly cleared by the FBI as a suspect

    Sheridan Peterson is one of the few people that the FBI has tested for DNA against a clip tie that DB Cooper left behind on Northwest Orient flight #305

    DB Cooper

    Sheridan Peterson (left) is one of the few people that the FBI has tested for DNA against a clip tie that DB Cooper (sketch, right) left behind on Northwest Orient flight #305

    Eric Ulis (above) is '98 percent' sure that Peterson is the man who made off with $200,000 ransom after skydiving from a Boeing 727 near Portland, Oregon in 1971

    Eric Ulis (above) is ’98 percent’ sure that Peterson is the man who made off with $200,000 ransom after skydiving from a Boeing 727 near Portland, Oregon in 1971

    As part of the special episode Ulis enlists a former FBI agent to reinterview Peterson.

    According to Ulis, before embarking on a career as a teacher, Peterson was an employee for Boeing and, ‘literally worked in the department that wrote the manual for the Boeing 727 jet’ – the same plane DB Cooper made his daring jump from.

    Peterson would later go on to travel across the world, working in Vietnam as a refugee adviser from 1966 until 1970, before moving with his wife to Nepal.

    ‘There’s nothing that Sheridan can point to that he was in Nepal at the time the skyjacking took place – with exception to his second wife,’ Ulis says in the documentary. ‘The problem is, according to Sheridan, his second wife died in 1977.’

    While Ulis insists that, over the years, Peterson has made some ‘inconsistent’ statements denying his involvement in the DB Cooper case, he also concedes that not all the evidence points toward him being the man responsible.

    ‘There’s two things I’ve found that could rule Sheridan out,’ Ulis said. ‘There’s some discrepancy with respect to eye color. Sheridan has blue eyes and the FBI’s first description of DB Cooper was that he had brown eyes.’

    That description, however, was quickly updated to read that the hijacker ‘possibly’ had brown eyes, according to Ulis.

    ‘Secondly, we know that DB Cooper definitely smoked cigarettes. In fact he smoked eight cigarettes during the hijacking.

    ‘I have never been able to prove that Peterson was ever a smoker,’ Ulis said.

    Before embarking on a career as a teacher, Peterson was an employee for Boeing and, ‘literally worked in the department that wrote the manual for the Boeing 727 jet’ – the same plane DB Cooper made his daring jump from.

    Before embarking on a career as a teacher, Peterson was an employee for Boeing and, ‘literally worked in the department that wrote the manual for the Boeing 727 jet’ – the same plane DB Cooper made his daring jump from.

    Peterson served in the Marine Corps in World War II, and notably was an avid skydiver and smokejumper, the highly trained firefighters who parachute into wildfire zones

    He has lived all over the world

    Peterson served in the Marine Corps in World War II, and notably was an avid skydiver and smokejumper, the highly trained firefighters who parachute into wildfire zones. He has lived all over the world

    Ulis pointed out that DB Cooper was initially described to have brown eyes, while Peterson's are blue.  That description, however, was quickly updated to read that the hijacker ‘possibly’ had brown eyes (above), according to Ulis

    Ulis pointed out that DB Cooper was initially described to have brown eyes, while Peterson’s are blue.  That description, however, was quickly updated to read that the hijacker ‘possibly’ had brown eyes (above), according to Ulis

    In November 1971, a ‘non-descript man’ identifying himself as Dan ‘DB’ Cooper bought a $20 ticket for a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle.

    During the flight, he handed a note to a flight attendant, telling them he had a bomb in his briefcase and demanded $200,000 ransom in unmarked $20 bills and four parachutes.

    When the flight landed in Seattle, Cooper exchanged the flight’s 36 passengers for the money and parachutes. He kept several of the crew members on board and ordered the flight to take off again, in the direction of Mexico City.

    Cooper told the pilots to fly the plane under 10,000 feet and at a speed lower than 200 knots.

    Somewhere between Seattle and Reno just after 8:00pm, Cooper lowered the rear steps and jumped out the back of the plane using one of the parachutes swindled from authorities, with the cash clasped in his grasp.

    The pilots later landed safely, but the man the press would later dub DB Cooper disappeared without a trace in the night – leaving his identity and fate to become the subject of folklore and prompting one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in FBI history. The case also remains the only unsolved skyjacking in US history.

    A staggering 800 suspects were identified for potentially carrying out the legendary heist in the first five years.

    Among the extensive list of names was Peterson, who served in the Marine Corps in World War II, and notably was an avid skydiver and smokejumper, the highly trained firefighters who parachute into wildfire zones.

    He was even prone to quirky risk-taking, such as experimenting with homemade bat wings.

    The Final Hunt also engages in some DNA examination based on particles pulled off Cooper’s tie (shown above) , which Ulis says the FBI allowed scientist Tom Kaye to examine in 2008 and 2011.

    The Final Hunt also engages in some DNA examination based on particles pulled off Cooper’s tie (shown above) , which Ulis says the FBI allowed scientist Tom Kaye to examine in 2008 and 2011. 

    In November 1971, a ‘non-descript man’ identifying himself as Dan ‘DB’ Cooper bought a $20 ticket for a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle (above)

    In November 1971, a ‘non-descript man’ identifying himself as Dan ‘DB’ Cooper bought a $20 ticket for a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle (above)

    In the early 1960s, Peterson worked for Boeing in Seattle as a technical editor. In 1966 he moved to Southeast Asia to work as a refugee advisor during the Vietnam War. His tax returns show no record of employment August 1970 to March 1973.

    Within weeks of the November 24, 1971 hijacking, FBI agents showed up to interview Peterson’s ex-wife at her high school counseling office in Bakersfield, California, Peterson revealed in a 2007 essay for the obscure trade publication Smokejumper.

    Asked if her ex-husband could be D.B. Cooper, she replied: ‘Yes, that sounded like something he’d do.’

    Peterson seemed to revel in the speculation that he could be the culprit, writing in the essay that ‘the FBI had good reason to suspect me.’

    ‘At the time of the heist, I was 44 years old. That was the approximate age Cooper was assumed to have been, and I closely resembled sketches of the hijacker,’ he wrote.

    ‘But what was even more incriminating was the photo of me simulating a skydiving maneuver for Boeing’s news sheet. I was wearing a suit and tie — the same sort of garb Cooper had worn, right down to the Oxford loafers. It was noted that skydivers don’t ordinarily dress so formally,’ Peterson continued.

    But for three decades, the FBI apparently lost track of Peterson, who moved frequently, including stints living in Saudi Arabia and Papua New Guinea

    In 2004, then-FBI Mary Jean Fryar was tasked with interviewing Peterson, who was then 77 years old.

    ‘He was a charming guy,’ Fryar recalled of the interview last year. ‘He had a lot of knowledge about the jump from the plane, because he’d been a smokejumper. And he was clearly interested in the case.’

    ‘I think he gets a kick out of it, the attention,’ Fryar added, saying that Peterson seemed to enjoy being treated as a suspect in the D.B. Cooper case.

    But Peterson said that at the time of the skyjacking, he was living in a mud hut in Nepal, working on a ‘protest novel’ about his experiences in Vietnam. (Peterson eventually self-published a fictionalized account in 2018, titled The Idiot’s Frightful Laughter.)

    The interview was Fryar’s first and last contact with the case. She says she never even heard back whether the DNA sample she took from Peterson was a match to Cooper’s tie.

    Ulis, who has spent years investigating the case, says he spoke to Peterson on the phone several years ago, and exchanged several emails with him.

    Ulis shown above

    Ulis, who has spent years investigating the case, says he spoke to Peterson on the phone several years ago, and exchanged several emails with him.

    Peterson had told Ulis he was ‘radicalized’ while working with refugees in Vietnam and the atrocities he described as being carried out by US soldiers, suggesting a possible motive

    Peterson had told Ulis he was ‘radicalized’ while working with refugees in Vietnam and the atrocities he described as being carried out by US soldiers, suggesting a possible motive

    Ulis, who has spent years investigating the case, says he spoke to Peterson on the phone several years ago, and exchanged several emails with him.

    He revealed last year that Peterson had told him he was ‘radicalized’ while working with refugees in Vietnam and witnessing atrocities he claimed were being carried out by US soldiers, suggesting a possible motive

    In a 2007 essay, Peterson denied being D.B. Cooper and claimed to have proof that he was in Nepal around the time of the crime.

    Ulis also believes that he has discovered a crucial error in the FBI’s initial search for Cooper, believing their guesstimate of the plane’s flight path was too far east.

    In the Final Hunt, Ulis mounts a search of wooded areas along the Washington-Oregon border, looking for pieces of the parachute Cooper could have left behind almost 50 years ago. 

    After meticulously analyzing wind speeds, ‘free fall’ data and other information, Ulis believes that the FBI misidentified the ‘jump zone’, and that Cooper actually would have most likely landed on Bachelor Island in the Columbia River.

    Bachelor Island is several miles north of Tena Bar, a sandy strip of riverbank where more than $5,800 was discovered buried in 1980.

    The bills had serial numbers that matched the ransom money in the Cooper case, and were still wrapped in the original rubber bands from 1971.

    Ulis believes his calculations show that Bachelor Island would have been the likely landing spot after dropping cash on Tena Bar. 

    Cooper is known to have jury-rigged a reserve parachute bag to carry the cash for the jump after discovering that the bank bag it was delivered in did not close.

    Part of the money that was paid to legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper in 1971 is shown during an F.B.I. news conference, Feb. 12, 1980, where it was announced that several thousand dollars was found 5 miles northwest of Vancouver, Wash

    Part of the money that was paid to legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper in 1971 is shown during an F.B.I. news conference, Feb. 12, 1980, where it was announced that several thousand dollars was found 5 miles northwest of Vancouver, Wash

    In a 2007 essay, Peterson denied being D.B. Cooper and claimed to have proof that he was in Nepal around the time of the crime.

    DB Cooper

    In a 2007 essay, Peterson denied being D.B. Cooper and claimed to have proof that he was in Nepal around the time of the crime.

    Ullis believes that Cooper landed on Bachelor Island, several miles from the original jump zone searched by the FBI in the weeks after the skyjacking

    Ullis believes that Cooper landed on Bachelor Island, several miles from the original jump zone searched by the FBI in the weeks after the skyjacking

    The Final Hunt also engages in some DNA examination based on particles pulled off Cooper’s tie, which Ulis says the FBI allowed scientist Tom Kaye to examine in 2008 and 2011.

    The filter of a small vacuum used in the tie examination revealed DNA that may or may not belong to Cooper. In the program, Ulis has that DNA compared to DNA from Peterson’s daughter that was provided by his ex-wife.

    Long insisting his innocence, Peterson put forward his own theory of what happened to Cooper in his 2007 essay.

    ‘D.B. did everything wrong,’ he wrote. ‘As far as we know, he had neither an altimeter nor stopwatch, and besides he quite obviously had no idea what the elevation of the terrain was. Consequently he wouldn’t have known when to pull the ripcord.’

    ‘There was also an 18-knot wind. Not being a skydiver, he probably opened the chute immediately, and at 10,000 feet, the wind would have carried him possibly 30 miles out over the Columbia River. I’m assuming that there would be a downdraft over the river sucking him into the water,’ Peterson said.

    But, asked in the FBI interview whether he would have survived the jump, Peterson replied: ‘Absolutely.’

    History’s Greatest Mysteries airs 9 p.m. Saturday, November 14, on History.

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