A tale of air piracy, escape from a federal prison and a deadly shootout may also become a story of physical and sexual abuse.
Karen McCoy, the widow of slain hijacker Richard McCoy, revealed for the first time Thursday her extensive involvement in her husband's 1972 hijacking of United Airlines Flight 855.During a daylong hearing in 3rd District Court, McCoy acknowledged that she bought her husband's parachute, helped him prepare his disguise, typed the instructions he read to the airline pilots, drove him to the Salt Lake International Airport April 7, 1972, to begin the crime and knew he took a gun and grenade aboard the plane.
At 3 a.m. the next morning, Karen also drove with her husband to a field near Springville to pick up and hide the $500,000 McCoy extorted during the day-long hijacking that ended when he parachuted over Provo.
Under questioning from her own attorney, Karen blamed her involvement in part on the fact that she had been "severely physically and sexually abused" when she was younger.
More attention will be given to Karen's childhood and the forces that drove her to participate in the hijacking during a trial later this year, said McCoy's attorney, Michael Schwab.
However, the revelation that McCoy participated in the hijacking appeared to be a factor in 3rd District Judge Homer F. Wilkinson's denial of McCoy's request for a preliminary injunction prohibiting further publication of the book "D.B. Cooper: The Real McCoy."
Wilkinson said the revelation that McCoy participated in "a capital federal offense" was more damaging to her than any injury she may sustain by the continued publication of the book.
However, Wilkinson did prohibit the sale of any movie rights on the book if - only if - the movie would include four allegations in the book McCoy is currently protesting. Those allegations are: Karen McCoy threatened to throw her infant daughter under a passing truck, McCoy dated an FBI agent while married to Richard McCoy, she drove a getaway car used by Richard McCoy in the Provo hijacking and she conspired with the FBI to have her husband killed.
Wilkinson noted that none of those allegations could be more damaging to McCoy than her participation in her husband's hijacking.
"This court looks upon that as the most damaging thing that could come out of this book," Wilkinson said when he denied McCoy's request for the preliminary injunction.
He noted that he did not have evidence of McCoy's participation several weeks ago when he issued a temporary restraining order against further sale of the recently published book. That order was immediately appealed to the Utah Supreme Court. During discussions before the Supreme Court, McCoy's attorney withdrew his request for a temporary restraining order. Instead, he sought the preliminary injunction.
"D.B. Cooper: The Real McCoy" details McCoy's heavy involvement in her husband's April 7, 1972, hijacking, during which he parachuted out of a jet airliner over Provo.
In his book, author Bernie Rhodes says Richard McCoy was also the legendary D.B. Cooper who successfully hijacked a Northwest Orient airliner, secured a $200,000 ransom and parachuted from the airplane with the money somewhere over Oregon.
However, Richard McCoy's family persistently denies that claim.
Karen McCoy has filed a lawsuit against Rhodes and his researcher Russell Calame. Her Jan. 3 suit also names University of Utah Press and Provo attorney Thomas Taylor as defendants.
Karen McCoy said the book defamed her by implicating her in her husband's hijacking. However, McCoy recently focused her claims of defamations on the four previously mentioned details.
Karen McCoy's attempts to stop publication of the book have had the opposite effect. Book sales were sluggish in the early months after its fall release. But local bookstores report that sales of the book soared after media reported McCoy's attempt to ban sale or further publication of the book.
Some bookstores posted newspaper accounts of McCoy's suit in their store. Two downtown bookstores reported Thursday that they had recently sold the book out.
Richard McCoy was convicted of air piracy in June 1972 and sentenced to 45 years in a federal penitentiary. On Aug. 10, 1974, McCoy escaped from the federal penitentiary in Lewisburg, Penn., along with three other prisoners. He was killed by FBI agent Joseph Smith Nov. 9, 1974, in Virginia Beach, Va.