HIJACKER'S WIDOW TO GAIN $120,000

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 19 1994 12:00 a.m. MST

The widow of hijacker Richard McCoy will receive more than $120,000 to settle her defamation law suit over the 1992 book "D.B. Cooper, the Real McCoy."

Karen Burns McCoy has accepted three settlement offers from Provo attorney Thomas Taylor, the University of Utah Press and authors Bernie Rhodes and Russell Calame.The hijacker's widow filed her lawsuit because the book said Provo hijacker Richard McCoy was also the legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper. The book also said Karen Burns McCoy helped her husband execute his 1972 hijacking, helped him escape from a federal prison in 1974 and then told the FBI where her husband was.

Richard McCoy was killed a few months after his escape during a shootout with the FBI.

The U. press will pay Karen Burns McCoy $20,000. Taylor will pay McCoy $100,000. Calame and Rhoades' offer is confidential, said David B. Watkiss, attorney for the two authors.

When Karen Burns McCoy filed her suit, she sought to prevent circulation of the book and block any sale of movie rights.

Her attorney, Mike Mohrman refused to say whether the settlement included such strictures. "We all agreed that no one will say anything about the agreement. I intend to live up to that," he said.

Cooper and McCoy each hijacked a commercial jetliner for several hundred thousand dollars in the early '70s. Each man parachuted from the jet with the cash.

Richard McCoy was caught, partly because he parachuted over his Provo home and partly because he had discussed such a possible hijacking with friends earlier.

Cooper, who pulled off his hijacking four months before McCoy, was never found, though some of the money he took was found in the Northwest years later.

The book outlines the reasons the authors believe Richard McCoy and Cooper are the same man.

Karen Burns McCoy sued Thomas Taylor because he turned information she had given him over to the authors. The widow said Taylor was her attorney and he violated attorney-client privilege by turning over the information. Karen Burns McCoy had admitted to Taylor her involvement in the hijacking. She later made similar admissions under oath during a hearing on the suit.

Although Taylor is paying $100,000 to settle the suit, he maintains that he was not Karen Burns McCoy's attorney or literary agent. The widow gave several interviews to Taylor about the hijacking and talked about col-labo-rating with him on their own book.

"He had no contract with her regarding the rights to publish the book," Nebeker said. Taylor gave Calame his McCoy files out of friendship, Nebeker said.

Settling the suit won't stop the speculation that Richard McCoy and D.B. Cooper are one and the same. A Jan. 2, 1994, article in the Minneapolis "Star Tribune" also links Richard McCoy to Cooper.

Retiring FBI Agent Nicholas O'Hara told the newspaper that when he shot Richard McCoy in the 1974 shootout, he killed D.B. Cooper.

The FBI believes Richard McCoy was an alias for Cooper, he said.

Third District Judge Homer Wilkinson imposed an injunction last year banning the sale of the book for movie rights.

That injunction becomes void with the dismissal of the suit, but similar terms may have been included in the settlement.

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