Walter W. Murray, reporter

It’s a major breakthrough in one of the world’s most infamous unsolved crimes.

A team of investigators that includes a dozen dogged former FBI agents has uncovered what just might be new evidence in the case of legendary hijacker D.B. Cooper, and may even prove he survived his parachute plunge over the wilderness of the Pacific Northwest nearly half a century ago.

Thomas Colbert, who assembled the crack team, told Fox News that his private investigators found what “appears to be a decades-old parachute strap” in an undisclosed location smack in the middle of the area where Cooper disappeared — and the stunning discovery may finally solve the case once and for all.

Cooper, of course, isn’t his real name.

That’s still unknown.

But on Nov. 24, 1971, a man clad in J.C. Penny necktie boarded Northwest Orient Flight 305 from Portland, Oregon to Seattle and calmly told the flight attendant he had a bomb in his briefcase.

The plane landed in Seattle, where he collected $200,000 in ransom – worth more than a million bucks in today’s dollars – in exchange for letting his passengers go. The plane refueled, and he ordered the crew to fly to Mexico.

The plane never made it there, as Cooper grabbed a parachute and leapt into the wilderness somewhere over either Washington or Oregon.

Cooper has since become like Bigfoot or Elvis; often “sighted,” but never seen.

The serial numbers on the cash were all recorded before it was handed over. None of it ever turned up in circulation, but $5,800 was once found buried along the Columbia River in 1980.

It’s not clear if the money had been stashed – by Cooper or someone who found it and hid it – or if it was buried by the waves of the river over the course of nearly a decade.

Colbert didn’t tell Fox News where his strap was found and if the area was near the site where they money turned up.

But he said his new “potential evidence” was found “right where a credible source claimed the chute and remaining money are buried,” which suggests the case may finally be solved.

Colbert, who has been pursuing his own investigation of the case for years and runs a website dedicated to the crime, made waves last year when he named 73-year-old Army veteran Robert Rackstraw – still alive in California – as D.B. Cooper.

Rackstraw was considered a person of interest early on, but ultimately cleared in the case.

He has denied Colbert’s allegations.

The FBI hasn’t commented on the latest developments, but the agency officially froze the case last year after what it called “one of the longest and most exhaustive investigations in our history.”

Officially, that means the feds will no longer use their resources to work on the case.

“Every time the FBI assesses additional tips for the NORJAK case, investigative resources and manpower are diverted from programs that more urgently need attention,” the agency complained at the time.

Maybe the latest discovery, now being turned over to the FBI, will reopen the case… and just maybe it will bring justice to a criminal who’s been on the run for nearly half a century.

— Walter W. Murray is a reporter for The Horn News. He is an outspoken conservative and a survival expert, and is the author of “America’s Final Warning.