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Monday, February 13, 2006 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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D.B. Cooper's loot to be auctioned off

MENA, Ark. — An Arkansas man hopes to auction off some frayed $20 bills that he says could bring him thousands of dollars.

Brian Ingram, 34, a Mena carpenter, says he was the boy on a family outing 26 years ago in Washington state who found money given to legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper, the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette reported Sunday.

Cooper hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines flight from Portland to Seattle in 1971 and parachuted out with $200,000 in ransom money. His fate remains unknown.

Ingram says he has 17 of the bills plus torn pieces and is working with an attorney to auction off some of them through Sotheby's in New York.

"It's time to make a sale," says Ingram, who has a wife and three children. "I want to invest for our future."

Ingram says that when he was 8, he found three bundles of bills "with rubber bands still on them" in the sand along the Columbia River. He says he was on an outing Feb. 10, 1980, with his family near their home in Vancouver, Wash., and he was raking the sand to build a fire. In all, he found $5,880, he says.

His father, Dwayne Ingram, contacted the police and was asked to supply a few of the bills' serial numbers.

The numbers linked the bills to the hijacking, and police instructed the Ingrams to contact the FBI in Seattle, Brian Ingram says.

The federal agents told the Ingrams they would have to part with the money because it was evidence. But Ingram's parents battled in federal court to keep the money, he says. In the end, the FBI kept 13 or 14 bills; the rest was divided between the airline's insurance company and himself, Ingram says.

In the hijacking, a man who identified himself as Dan Cooper boarded a plane headed for Seattle on Nov. 24, 1971, told the crew once the plane was in the air that he had a bomb and demanded $200,000 and parachutes. When the plane landed at Seattle, he released the passengers in exchange for the money and ordered the pilot to fly toward Mexico. While in the air, he apparently jumped from the rear stairway.

Ingram's family moved to Oklahoma when he was 13. He served in the Army for three years after high school, then moved to Mena about 12 years ago. He says he's kept the bills locked in a bank safe-deposit box.

Copyright © 2006 The Seattle Times Company

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