PADUCAH, Ky. (FOX 56) — In 1991, a young man walked up to an airport worker at Barkley Regional Airport in Paducah and asked to trade a bomber jacket for a plane ticket to the West Coast. What happened next confused investigators for years.
In session 5, episode 1, of Unsolved Mysteries, the man was identified as a Daredevil Doe, between 25 and 30 years old, athletic, and of a “seemingly sound mind.”
In the opening interview, he is described as desperate and broke, but airport worker Wes Weaver said he seemed OK.
“I kind of thought that he was into something he wasn’t supposed to be into, running from something. Because, honestly, he didn’t act drugged up, he didn’t act like he was drunk, and he didn’t act crazy,” Weaver said in the interview.
The man stayed around for a while but ultimately left when he wasn’t able to get a plane ride.
MORE KENTUCKY NEWS:
Weaver later saw the man jump the fence that surrounded the airport and run toward a stationary plane on the runway. Weaver reportedly called security to alert them.
At 6:49 p.m., the plane was cleared for takeoff and began leaving the runway. Two people who lived near the airport, Linda and Jerry Leab, said they saw something dark fall from the plane.
As security continued their search, they found a portion of the airport fence damaged, and below it was the man’s body. The only hint to his identity was his bomber jacket inscribed “Lieutenant L.F. Price, USAF,” but no positive ID matched military records.
The only other items he was reported to have were running shoes, two pairs of blue jeans, a blue knit jogging jacket, a green sweater, a brown shirt, and a Sony Walkman.
The airport manager at the time, Richard Roof, was in charge of reviewing the incident and reported no one saw the man climb on the plane, but he would have had about 2 minutes and 90 seconds to climb over a 7 1/2-foot fence, run 800 feet, run around the plane, and climb onto it.
After all of that, Roof told Unsolved Mysteries the plane would have been traveling 125 miles per hour on the runway and 190 miles per hour once in the air, then hitting a “substantial wind force while trying to hold onto the small commuter plane’s wing.
MORE ALL ABOUT KENTUCKY
Authorities believe he was able to hold on until about 3,000 feet before falling.
The search for the man’s identity continued until 1999 when The Associated Press reported the case was solved. A woman, Dee Duecker, believed John Doe was her stepson, 28-year-old Brian Stanley Duecker, from Cincinnati, who went missing in 1991.
“I saw a report about three years ago on the television show ‘Unsolved Mysteries,’” Dee said. “I contacted the Paducah police, but within a couple of hours, Brian was eliminated.”
A few years later, she contacted Bill Bartleman, a reporter with The Paducah Sun who had authored a story about John Doe. Bartleman and Dee were able to get photos and fingerprints for officials, and the Paducah plane jumper was identified as Brian.
His family said Brian was diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic when he was 22 and was the likely cause of his actions at the airport.
The full mystery is available to watch on YouTube.