What became of the money from the D. B. Cooper hijacking?

What eventually became of the money from the D. B. Cooper hijacking?

Every D. B. Cooper story has the obligatory paragraph “In 1980, a boy playing along the Columbia River, in the general area of where D.B. Cooper bailed out, found $5,800 while digging in a sandbar.” Man implicated in ‘D.B. Cooper’ skyjacking had worked at Boeing - On Deadline - USATODAY.com but I never read anything beyond the fact that the serial numbers were examined to determine the source of the money. I have never seen a report on what eventually happened to the money. Do you know?

The money the boy found was given back to him, and he was selling bills as souvenirs. Nothing else has been found, on the ground or in circulation.

He only got half of the bills, a total of 85. They were too badly deteriorated to circulate, but he sold 15 of them at auction thirty years after he found them. The 15 bills fetched more than $37,000.

Were the other bills simply too deteriorated to even prove that they were individual bills?

The Bureau of Engraving and Printing replaces mutilated bills at face value if they are able to prove that more than half of the bill is present or that the remainder of the bill was destroyed beyond doubt.

As such, I wonder if the remaining bills were simply too deteriorated even for BEP to replace, or if the rules of the situation prevented the finder from keeping the others (evidence?)

ETA: I did look at that linked photo and those bills do look rough, but no worse than some examples on the BEP page.

There were four claims to the money: the boy who found them, the airline, the airline’s insurance company, and the FBI. A judge’s ruling gave the FBI a handful of bills (14) to keep as evidence, with the rest (276) divided evenly between the boy and the insurance company.

There were three packs, each of which originally held 100 $20 bills. One of the packs was missing 10.

I have no idea whether they could have been exchanged for 20s, but the fact that they sold at auction for about $6500 each suggests that’s not a great option.

The FBI released the serial numbers of all of the bills shortly after the incident, prompting thousands of armchair sleuths to join in the hunt. No trace of the other bills was ever found.

Which means to me that none of the rest of the money ever made it into circulation at all. If it had, while all of it might not turn up, some of it should have. Even one bill would be enough to disprove the “never found” theory.

Possibly the bulk of it was used by D. B. Cooper in his post-hijacking life: “Okla. woman claims famed hijacker D.B. Cooper is her uncle.”

She also says her uncle " lost the money on the way down from the plane."

The FBI has the serial numbers of all the bills that were given to Cooper. None of them have circulated.

How can the FBI possibly check on the circulation of every bill? How many $20 bills change hand in a given hour, day or week?

Eventually all money degrades. When it degrades enough, the Fed gets it to dispose of. Before they dispose of it, they check the serial numbers (automated). The only way a bill avoids this fate is if someone hoards it or destroys it themselves.

The average life span of a one dollar bill is about 18 months. Larger denominations last longer. Almost all bills in circulation in 1970 have now been taken out and the numbers recorded.

They were checking the serial numbers in the 1970s? Do you have a cite for that?

Half of 276 is 138. But according to the above story, Ingram sold 15 and only has 70 left. (Hey, this is starting to sound like the “what happened to the other dollar” problem.) Maybe he did exchange the rest, much earlier.

Also, I wonder what the insurance company did with their bills. Exchanged them, I suppose.

The Fed has been handling money for disposal since 1966, but I don’t know when they started to scan for serial numbers.

Part of the disposal process is to identify bill denominations, so if they scan for that, there’s no reason why they can’t scan for specific serial numbers.

And even if they didn’t do that in the early 1970’s, it’s doubtful that ALL the hijacker’s bill’s useful lives had been reached so quickly. The lifespan of a 20 is a lot more than a one.

Cases have been solved due to people noticing the serial numbers provided by the FBI going back decades. This is hardly an amazing feat.

One example going back to 1935 is that two clerks checking serial numbers helped crack the George Weyerhaeuser kidnapping case.

Providing serial numbers works often enough no one should be surprised by this.

The Lindberg baby kidnapping was solved by identifying some of the bills that were spent. And that was in 1934, long before automation.

That was a specific manual effort, set up for the specific case. Not the automated system that is used on every bill to be destroyed now. So even before it was a routine, automated procedure, it was still used successfully in major cases.