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Man who packed parachutes for D.B. Cooper found murdered in his home

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Undated photo of Earl Cossey. Courtesy: King County Sheriff's Office.

Undated photo of Earl Cossey. Courtesy: King County Sheriff's Office.

SEATTLE – The man who packed the parachutes used by D.B. Cooper, the infamous skyjacker, has been idenitifed as a murder victim.

The body of Earl Cossey, 71, was found by his daughter in his suburban Seattle home on Friday.  The King County Medical Examiner’s Office said Tuesday that he died of blunt force trama to the head.

Authorities were quick to point out that they have no reason to think Cossey’s death was linked to the Cooper case.

“We have no information that leads us to believe that this case has any relation to the Cooper case,” King County Sheriff’s Sgt. Cindi West said in an email to the press.

Skyjack Case Never Solved

Cooper hijacked a passenger plane traveling from Portland, Ore. to Seattle in November of 1971.  After the plane landed at the Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, he released all of the passengers in exchange for $200,000 and four parachutes.  He then directed the pilot to fly him to Mexico.

As the plane neared the Oregon state line, Cooper jumped from the aircraft’s lowered rear stairs.  He was never found.

Over the years, investigators have wondered whether he could have survived a nighttime jump during a frigid rain storm.  A boy playing on a Columbia River beach found some bills that came from Cooper’s money bag in 1980.

The parachutes given to Cooper came from a local skydive center, which had recently bought them from Cossey.

As the years passed, the FBI had Cossey help identify pieces of parachutes found in Cooper’s jump area.

“They keep bringing me garbage,” Cossey told The Associated Press in 2008, after the FBI brought him a silk parachute discovered by children playing at a recently graded road in Southwest Washington.

“Every time they find squat, they bring it out and open their trunk and say, `Is that it?’ and I say, `Nope, go away.’ Then a few years later they come back,” he said.

Cossey even had some fun at the expense of reporters. Some reporters who happened to call him on April Fools’ Day  one year were told by him that the latest chute found was, in fact, the one Cooper had used.

One reporter called him back and angrily said he could be fired for writing a false story, Cossey said.  Another said the newsroom was entertained by the prank.

“I’m getting mixed reviews,” Cossey said. “But I’m having fun with it. What the heck.”

Cossey’s family last saw him the night of April 22.  A reward is being offered for information leading to an arrest.

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