A retired lawyer searching the Columbia River for nearly $200,000 taken in the nation's only unsolved airline hijacking said Friday a piece of parachute was being analyzed to determine whether it was part of the chute used by the skyjacker who leaped into American folklore.

Richard Tosaw said he believes the river is the resting place of the loot taken by D.B. Cooper, identified as the man who hijacked a Northwest Orient Airlines jetliner flying between Portland and Seattle on Thanksgiving Eve in 1971 and parachuted out over southwest Washington.Tosaw said Friday in a telephone interview from his home in Ceres, Calif., that his team of divers found a piece of parachute in the river earlier this week.

"It was taken up to Earl Cossey in Woodinville (Wash.) by one of my divers today to be examined," Tosaw said. "Cossey's the guy who packed the 'chute Cooper used the night he jumped."

The man identified as Cooper jumped from the Boeing 727 that stormy Thanksgiving Eve with $200,000 in ransom money. He has never been seen since.