- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2011

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) An Oklahoma woman claims an uncle who planned something “very mischievous” over the holidays in 1971 was D.B. Cooper, the never-captured hijacker who jumped out of a plane with $200,000.

Marla Cooper of Oklahoma City - who was 8 years old at the time of the hijacking - told ABC News in an interview broadcast Wednesday that she is certain her uncle, Lynn Doyle Cooper, leaped from a Northwest Orient plane not far from her grandmother’s home in Sisters, Ore.

She said she made the connection after piecing together remarks made by her father in 1995 and her mother in 2009. She did not say why she chose to speak out now.

“My two uncles, who I only saw at holiday time, were planning something very mischievous. I was watching them using some very expensive walkie-talkies that they had purchased,” she said on “Good Morning America.”

When contacted later Wednesday, Miss Cooper referred an Associated Press reporter to a family friend who is scheduling interviews.

FBI agent Fred Gutt said Monday that the agency was following up on a “credible” new lead in the unsolved D.B. Cooper case.

Mr. Gutt declined Wednesday to say whether Miss Cooper was connected to that lead, which focuses on a man who died more than 10 years ago. Miss Cooper did not say in her ABC interview when her uncle died.

“It is an unsolved crime and we are obligated to address that if new, credible information comes to us,” Mr. Gutt said. “But it’s definitely a low-priority matter because we … have ongoing criminal activity today that has real threat to the community today.”

Miss Cooper told ABC her uncles said they were going turkey hunting around Thanksgiving 1971, but L.D. Cooper came home claiming he had been in a car accident.

“My uncle L.D. was wearing a white T-shirt and he was bloody and bruised and a mess, and I was horrified. I began to cry. My other uncle, who was with L.D., said ‘Marla, just shut up and go get your dad,’ ” she said.

Miss Cooper told ABC she heard her uncle say at the time, “We did it, our money problems are over, we hijacked an airplane,” and that her father mentioned his brother in 1995 and said, “Don’t you remember he hijacked that airplane?”

In 2009, she said, her mother made a similar comment that raised her suspicions again.

Miss Cooper told ABC she contacted the FBI “as soon as I was sure that what I was remembering were real memories.”

The FBI said Monday that a new lead came to the bureau after the tipster initially discussed the case with a retired law-enforcement officer, who then contacted the agency. Mr. Gutt said only after the FBI contacted the tipster directly did the person speak with investigators.

Miss Cooper did not discuss on ABC how or when she reached out to the FBI, but said she recently gave investigators a guitar strap belonging to her uncle to be tested for fingerprints.

Investigators have tested a guitar strap from the suspect who is the subject of the new lead, Mr. Gutt said Wednesday, but found it wasn’t suitable for fingerprint analysis. They are now working with family members to identify other items that can be analyzed.

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