Mena man to sell D.B. Cooper cash 

It's the only evidence of an unsolved crime.

click to enlarge COOPER'S MONEY: And Thraikill and Ingram.
  • COOPER'S MONEY: And Thraikill and Ingram.

A Mena resident who found the only money recovered from the famous 1971 D.B. Cooper plane hijacking and robbery is preparing to sell what is left of his bounty.

Brian Ingram, who is now 34 years old, came across a buried bundle of twenty-dollar bills in 1980 while camping with his family on the banks of the Columbia River in Washington state.

“We were going to make a campfire,” Ingram said during a telephone interview. “My dad was getting ready to put the wood down, and I was smoothing the sand. That’s when I found what felt like old newspaper.”

Nine years earlier, a man who came to be known only as “D.B. Cooper” hijacked a Northwest Orient flight from Portland to Seattle and threatened to blow it up unless he received $200,000 cash and four parachutes. When the plane landed in Seattle, he released all of the passengers but ordered the pilots to take him back into the air with his money and parachutes. Then, in the midst of harsh winds and freezing rain, the man jumped off the plane with his booty and was never seen again. The crime remains one of the great unsolved mysteries of modern times.

So when the eight-year-old Ingram dug up the stash of twenties, he unwittingly came to possess the only material evidence in a case that had stymied the F.B.I.

His parents contacted the local police and read off the serial numbers from the bills, which matched those given to D.B. Cooper. The F.B.I. then took custody of the money until 1986, when a court divided it among Ingram, the F.B.I., and Northwest Airlines and its insurance company. Of the $5,800 he found, Ingram was allowed to keep almost $3,000.

By that time, the bills had substantially deteriorated and were valuable mainly as souvenirs from a famous episode in history. Ingram moved to Mena 12 years ago because he has family in the area, and he kept the money in a safe-deposit box at a local bank.

Now he is looking to sell it to collectors, and he is retaining as counsel Danny Thrailkill, a Mena attorney who is best known for securing the largest verdict in an Arkansas nursing home case.

“I just think it is time to do something with them,” Ingram said, pointing out that he is settling down and starting a family. “Our family had time to hold on to them for a while and look back on it. It’s just time to let the public know about them.”

Ingram is selling the entirety of the bills with readable serial numbers, which includes only 15 “whole bills,” which are deteriorated around the edges, and 10 “half-bills,” which are further gone. He will keep the rest of the money, which amounts to scraps of paper resembling confetti.

Thrailkill would not provide an estimate of what the sale would net, saying only that he is “in the process of obtaining authentication and valuation documents,” and “looking at several auction houses and private investors.”

The prospects for big money should be good, judging from the continued interest in the case. D.B. Cooper’s exploits have been the subject of a movie and countless television programs and news articles through the present day. Ingram says that, over the years, he has been contacted by People magazine, the Discovery Channel and other media.

“It’s a defining part of my life,” he said.

Interestingly, there is another Arkansas connection to the D.B. Cooper episode. The county sheriff who led the manhunt in Washington state retired to Montgomery County years ago and his widow still lives in Norman.


From the ArkTimes store


Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Max Brantley

More by Warwick Sabin

  • Helena's disappearing buildings

    Preservationists hope to slow demolitions.
    • Mar 22, 2007
  • Trailers headed to Dumas

    Gov. Mike Beebe issued the following statement earlier today: Although this decision by FEMA to deny emergency funds to Desha County defies common sense, Arkansas will take care of its own people.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • Youth Ranch robbed, vandalized

    According to a press release we just received: The Donald W. Reynolds Campus of the Arkansas Sheriff’s Youth Ranches (The Ranch) located near Fort Smith was vandalized overnight Thursday.  Items stolen during the break-in included all of the children’s saddles, food, tools and supplies from The Ranch’s carpentry shop and all equipment from its auto shop.  An investigation is underway with the Crawford County Sheriff’s Office.
    • Mar 9, 2007
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Kanis development decried

    Fletcher Hollow wrong place for density, neighbors tell LR planners.
    • Oct 8, 2015
  • Eligible voters removed from rolls

    Arkansas Times reporters contacted election officials around the state to see how they had handled flawed felon data from the secretary of state. Responses varied dramatically.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Real Republicans don't do pre-K

    Also, drifting away from trump, Hudson's downfall at ASU and more.
    • Aug 11, 2016

Most Shared

  • Conspiracy theorists

    Back in 2000, I interviewed Rev. Jerry Falwell on camera in connection with a documentary film of "The Hunting of the President," which Joe Conason and I wrote.
  • The health of a hospital

    The Medicaid expansion helped Baxter County Regional Medical Center survive and thrive, but a federal repeal bill threatens to imperil it and its patients.
  • Virgil, quick come see

    There goes the Robert E. Lee. But the sentiment that built the monument? It's far from gone.
  • Real reform

    Arkansas voters, once perversely skeptical of complicated ballot issues like constitutional amendments, have become almost comical Pollyannas, ratifying the most shocking laws.
  • That modern mercantile: The bARn

    The bARn Mercantile — "the general store for the not so general," its slogan says — will open in the space formerly occupied by Ten Thousand Villages at 301A President Clinton Ave.

Latest in Arkansas Reporter

  • Abuse again at Arkansas juvenile lockup

    A guard was fired after choking a child at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center. It’s the latest in a long history of mistreatment at the facility.
    • May 26, 2017
  • High school MVP

    An Academic All-Star who approaches perfection.
    • May 25, 2017
  • Arkansas ticks wanted

    UA lab is researching pathogens, raising awareness.
    • May 18, 2017
  • More »

Visit Arkansas

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Paddling the Fourche Creek Urban Water Trail

Underutilized waterway is a hidden gem in urban Little Rock

Event Calendar

« »


  1 2 3 4 5 6
7 8 9 10 11 12 13
14 15 16 17 18 19 20
21 22 23 24 25 26 27
28 29 30 31  

Most Viewed

  • Abuse again at Arkansas juvenile lockup

    A guard was fired after choking a child at the Alexander Juvenile Assessment and Treatment Center. It’s the latest in a long history of mistreatment at the facility.

Most Recent Comments


© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation