Tonight’s episode of Brad Meltzer’s DECODED delves into the D.B. Cooper case, the 1971 skyjacking which has been unsolved for forty years. I produced this episode, and it’s my personal favorite one of the season. And after this latest investigation, the case may very well be solved.
The show follows a new suspect named Kenny Christiansen, who was brought to light by the book Into The Blast: The True Story of D. B. Cooper. Kenny was a Northwest Airlines employee and a trained paratrooper; he suddenly began spending large amounts of money in the months after the hijacking; he was unaccounted for the night of the crime; and there was even a plastic bag of $20 bills found hidden in his backyard years later — the denomination of the cash stolen by D.B. Cooper. Wikipedia has a longer summary of the case against Christiansen.
During our shoot, we visited Kenny’s former home in Bonney Lake, Washington (where the bag of twenties was found), and searched the walls with an infrared camera. The idea was we were looking for a hiding spot or a cubby hole — a place where money could have been hidden. We weren’t expecting to find anything, but when we came across a peculiar rectangular area in the ceiling above Kenny’s former bedroom, we had to investigate. We sent one of our Decoders up into the attic, and sure enough, we found something. In between the rafters in Kenny’s attic, hidden under a layer of insulation, we found a hinged box that was clearly some sort of deliberate hiding space! It was the perfect size to hide the stash of money that D.B. Cooper stole, and we found it in the ceiling right above the leading suspect’s bedroom. I know this doesn’t prove anything, but it’s another piece of circumstantial evidence to add to the ever-growing case against Kenny Christianen.
After we wrapped, author of Into The Blast Robert Blevins released a new edition of his book which includes a chapter on the History Channel shoot. I’m quoted in the book and Robert even put my picture in it. It’s pretty cool that our detective work actually turned up something!
To see this episode, tune in tonight at 10PM on The History Channel.