Video of some original TV broadcasts from the FBI dig at Tena (Tina) Bar was released on YouTube. It was later taken down, but the video vindicated much of what has been told to us by FBI agents who were at the dig. Most importantly, the video appears to show agents digging up a money fragment from around two feet deep. This video, became a topic of discussion on the Cooper Forum, eliminated the possibility of a plant. The money had to arrive at Tena bar through natural processes (plus or minus the dredging operation). The video also clearly shows the line of the FBI dig running perpendicular to the water flow of the Columbia, right up against a line of trees and foliage. This natural backstop creates an area where water-carried debris would accumulate.
This supports a theory proposed by forum member “R99” that the money, and probably Cooper, landed near Tena bar, somewhere between the Williamette/Columbia confluence and Caterpillar island. R99 estimates the money would have been between 10-12 feet above sea level. At some point flooding grabbed the bag, and deposited some of the money on Tena bar. In fact, it’s possible this happened several times, creating the debris field we see in the video.
However, this new evidence also fits in well with the dredge theory. Chunks of the money would be pushed perpendicular to the water flow by heavy machinery as they tried building up the sandbar from the spoils of the dredging operation. These new revelations don’t really help us in choosing between the two theories.
The dredge theory seems more plausible to me. I have a hard time believing Cooper, or even a bag of money, could go unnoticed along the banks of the Columbia River, just a few miles from a major urban area. Fishermen, swimmers, boaters, kayakers, hobos, it beggars belief that no one noticed a dead body, a parachute, or the bag of money. It’s possible someone found some of the money and never reported it, but I find this very unlikely as well. The FBI found no other material at the bar. No parachute fragments, no human bones, nothing except the money.
In the end, the dredge theory wins. The bag of money, or at least some of the ransom money, entered the Columbia River upstream from Tena Bar, and somehow some of the bills became part of the river sediment near Tena bar, and it was dredged and brought to the surface. Finding out how a large bag of money moves underneath the water is the next experimental step. Knowing how fast the money would have moved, where it could get snagged, how long the bag holds up, these will give us clues as to where the real entry point into the Columbia might be.