The public knew Earl “Cos” Cossey as the man who packed D.B. Cooper’s parachute four decades ago, someone who was contacted by authorities whenever a new lead came up in the infamous skyjacking.
His son, Wayland Cossey, remembers him as an incredible father, well-liked junior-high-school coach and a groomsman in his wedding.
Earl Cossey, 71, was found dead of blunt-force trauma to the head last month in his Woodinville home, a slaying that remains unsolved. The King County Medical Examiner’s Office placed the date of death as April 23, but Cossey’s daughter didn’t find his body until three days later when she went to check on him.
Several days after the body was found, Wayland Cossey’s wife opened a letter that contained Earl Cossey’s driver’s license, bank cards and a casino gaming card. The letter, addressed to Earl Cossey on a handwritten envelope and then forwarded to Wayland Cossey, didn’t include a return address or any other information that could identify the sender.
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Wayland Cossey and King County Sheriff’s Detective Jake Pavlovich announced during a news conference Thursday that authorities are offering a $1,000 reward in hopes that person will come forward.
An additional reward of up to $2,500 is being offered for any information on the slaying.
Pavlovich said it’s likely the items were taken when the elder Cossey was killed and then were later dropped or intentionally discarded. He said he doesn’t believe the person who sent the letter has anything to do with the slaying.
Pavlovich said he couldn’t discuss a possible motive, but Wayland Cossey said he thinks his father’s involvement with the D.B. Cooper case has “absolutely no relevancy.” He said he didn’t know why someone would want to kill him.
“He was a man of peace,” Wayland Cossey said. “He didn’t have any enemies.”
Pavlovich said that if the person who sent Cossey’s identification wishes to remain anonymous, he or she can send a letter to the sheriff’s office detailing when and where the driver’s license and cards were found. Detectives can verify the authenticity by checking the handwriting, he said.
The sender should mail the information to sheriff’s spokeswoman Sgt. Cindi West, 516 Third Ave., Seattle, WA 98104.
Earl Cossey was a parachutist and pilot and coached junior high basketball and football at Leota Junior High in Woodinville, his son said. His family had contact with him a day before he was killed, and everything appeared normal, Wayland Cossey said.
Wayland Cossey called his grief a day-by-day process. Information about his father’s death would help that process, he said.
“Let this process have an end for us,” he said.
In November 1971, a man calling himself Dan Cooper — later erroneously identified as D.B. Cooper — hijacked a passenger plane from Portland to Seattle. He released the passengers at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport in exchange for $200,000 and four parachutes, and asked to be flown to Mexico.
The plane took off again at his direction with some of the crew on board. As the plane neared Oregon, Cooper jumped from its lowered rear stairs. Investigators doubt he survived the nighttime jump in a frigid rain.
The parachutes provided to the skyjacker came from an Issaquah skydive center, which had recently bought them from Cossey. The one Cooper apparently used was a military-issue NB6, nylon parachute with a conical canopy.
Over the decades, as parachutes were sometimes discovered in the area of Cooper’s jump, the FBI sought Cossey’s help in identifying them.
“They keep bringing me garbage,” Cossey told The Associated Press in 2008, after the FBI brought him a silk parachute discovered by children playing at a recently graded road in Southwest Washington. “Every time they find squat, they bring it out and open their trunk and say, ‘Is that it?’ and I say, ‘Nope, go away.’ Then a few years later they come back.”
Anyone with information on Cossey’s slaying should call CrimeStoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477), or the King County Sheriff’s Office at 206-263-2560.
Paige Cornwell: 206-464-or firstname.lastname@example.org
Information from The Associated Press is included in this report