"Missing" Pilot Found

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16 years 4 months

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From WXIN-TV, Channel 59 ("Fox 59"), Indianapolis, Indiana:

Breaking News: Pilot wanted for fraud found alive in Florida

January 13, 2009

10:39 PM Tuesday Night

Fox News and the Associated Press are reporting that missing pilot Marcus Schrenker is in custody in Quincy, Florida, just outside Tallahassee. That is just across the border from Alabama.

Lieutenant Jim Porter with the Gadsden County Sheriff's Department says Schrenker had marks on his body "consistent with a suicidal act." He is reportedly at a Tallahassee-area hospital and will be brought to either the Gadsden County Jail or a federal detention center for processing.

Afternoon Developments:

A judge has ordered the arrest on fraud charges of an Indiana businessman who authorities believe tried to fake his death in a plane crash in Florida.

Hamilton County, Ind., prosecutors on Tuesday filed felony charges against 38-year-old Marcus Schrenker. Prosecutors say that Schrenker acted as a financial adviser after his state license expired on Dec. 31.

A magistrate judge signed a warrant for Schrenker's arrest that ordered him held on $4 million cash bond. Court documents say Schrenker gave advice on investments and made businesses transactions without being registered with the Indiana secretary of state's office.

Bail is set for $4,000,000.00 and must be paid in cash.

Schrenker's wife released a statement late Tuesday afternoon, through her attorney Mary Schmid:

"I represent Michelle Schrenker. Michelle first contacted me this past summer to discuss a divorce this past summer because her husband was having an affair. At the time, she wanted to work on reconciling with her husband. However, he continued his affair. and, as a result, on December 30th 2008, she filed a petition for dissolution of her marriage from Marcus Schrenker.

"Her decision to file for divorce was based on her husband's infidelity and in no way was based on the investment fraud of which he is accused. In fact, Michelle first learned of the allegations against him when, on December 31st 2008, the police and investigators came to her door to search her home.

"To Michelle's dismay, at the time her home was being searched, Marcus was in Florida with his girlfriend.

"Clearly, Michelle and her three young children are victim's of this man's deceitfulness as well. She is not guilty of anything other than trusting her husband of 13 years. Everyone should remember that Michelle and her children are suffering through a terrible time right now.

"Through no fault of their own, they are having to deal with the repercussion's of this man's behavior and will be doing so for a long time to come."

Below is a youtube video of Schrenker displaying his stunt skills with flying:


Morning developments:

The search for a missing Indiana man who authorities say faked his disappearance by abandoning his plane on Sunday as it flew over Alabama took a new twist late Monday night. Lawmen learned he had stashed a Yamaha motorcycle in a Harpersville storage unit the day before he disappeared, authorities said early this morning.

Marcus Schrenker, 38, a businessman who faced mounting legal, financial and personal trouble, rented the unit on Saturday and told the manager of the storage unit that he would be back for his belongings on Monday, said Marty Keely, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama.
When authorities on Monday evening went to search the storage unit, the motorcycle, which had loaded saddlebags, was gone, said Keely, whose Gulf Coast Regional Task Force members are searching for Schrenker.

All that investigators found inside the unit were the still-damp clothes that Schrenker was last seen wearing when he checked into, and then left, a Harpersville motel.

"We do have reason to believe he has made contact with a friend after he left with the motorcycle,'' Keely said. "We are working closely with the Indiana authorities. "

Keely said authorities couldn't release additional information because of the ongoing search for Schrenker. He said it was unclear whether Schrenker had flown down the motorcycle in his 8-seater plane or driven it to Alabama before returning to Indiana where he flew out again Sunday.

Full Story from Monday:

The pilot who signaled air traffic controllers that his windshield had imploded and that he was bleeding before his plane crashed faked the call and later checked into a hotel using a false name Monday, authorities said.

Authorities identified the pilot as Marcus Schrenker, 38, from Indiana. Police say they are looking for him.

"All indications now are that he made some type of false emergency call [and] abandoned the plane by parachute," said Sgt. Scott Haines of the Santa Rosa County, Florida, Sheriff's Office.

Haines said the pilot checked into a hotel in the Harpersville, Alabama, area under a false name.

Harpersville is 30 minutes east of Birmingham, Alabama, and about 223 miles north of Milton, Florida, near where the wrecked plane was found.

Haines did not know the whereabouts of the pilot.

"I do not believe they have him in custody," he said, and police are looking for Schrenker.

Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office got a call at 2:26 a.m. from the Childersburg Police Department in Alabama saying that a white male, identified as Schrenker by his Indiana driver's license, approached a Childersburg officer at a store.

Schrenker, who was wet from the knees down and had no injuries, told the officer that he had been in a canoeing accident with friends, the Santa Rosa Sheriff's Office said in a news release. Schrenker had goggles that looked like they were made for "flying," according to the release.

The Childersburg police didn't know about the plane crash, so they took Schrenker to a nearby hotel, authorities said. When police found out about the crash, they went back to the hotel and entered Schrenker's room. He was not there, they said.

According to Santa Rosa authorities, Schrenker had checked in under a fake name, paid for his room in cash and "put on a black toboggan cap and ran into the woods located next to the hotel."

The phone number listed for his business address was disconnected. He does not have a home phone number listed.

He is listed online as president of an Indianapolis agency called Heritage Wealth Management, but no contact information for that agency was available. The address of the business is the same as the address associated with Schrenker's aircraft in aviation records.

Police in Harpersville said they had no immediate comment. Federal investigators were helping in the probe.

Earlier Monday, federal investigators said they believed the pilot may have parachuted out of the Piper PA-36 aircraft before it crashed at 9:15 p.m. CT Sunday in a swampy area of Blackwater River in East Milton, Florida.

Military jets found the aircraft Sunday. The plane was lying upside down, its door open and the cockpit empty, according to Haines.

Kathleen Bergen, spokeswoman for the Federal Aviation Administration, said a "detailed review of radar data" and the fact that the plane had switched to autopilot suggested that the pilot might have parachuted.

The pilot was the only person aboard, authorities said.

On Sunday evening, the pilot contacted air traffic controllers and told them the plane's windshield had imploded and that he was bleeding profusely, Haines said.

That call came in when the aircraft was about 35 miles southwest of Birmingham, Alabama. Controllers tried to tell the pilot to divert the flight to Pell City, Alabama, but he did not respond. The plane appeared to have been put on autopilot around 2,000 feet, Haines said.

The plane was scheduled to land in Destin, Florida, authorities said.

Military jets that first spotted the wreckage described the cockpit as empty. Bergen said the cockpit was mostly intact and the door to the aircraft was open.

The corporate plane does not have an ejection feature, and the pilot did not have a parachute when he took off Sunday from Anderson Municipal Airport in Anderson, Indiana, airport manager Steve Darlington told CNN.

Darlington described the pilot as "accomplished" and said he owns "a couple of airplanes" and flies regularly.

Helicopters, planes, boats, and dogs and rescue crews were involved in searching the area.

Original post

Member for

19 years 4 months

Posts: 9,817

It shows the media's and public ignorance of general aviation that no one has commented on the fact he happened to have a parachute with him in the Malibu.
How many times do people take chutes in a normal (no aerobatic or warbird) GA aircraft? Never in my experience. That is enough to show that his story of an emergency is a lie. Since he also flies aerobatics, he had access to a chute, something most GA pilots don't have.

As I understand the geography where the plane came down is is very near the Gulf, he was obviously hoping the plane would disappear over water. His radio call about the windshield imploding was probably to make a case for the lack of pressurization and pilot unconsciousness.
What he may not have counted on were the military jets checking on him and seeing the cabin door opened. That would have been hard to explain. Doors of pressurized aircarft just don't pop open, even if the windshield is gone.

Also, no one seems to care that he risked the lives of others in his stunt. There was nothing to keep the pilotless plane from going down in a residential community. For that, I hoipe the authorities charge him with something.

Finally, I hope the planes insurance company gets its money back. I'm sure the plane was not paid for...so someone is out a good deal of cash. The plane was a PT-6 powered Malibu Meridian...that was worth upwards of a million dollars.

Hopefully his last flight wil be a coach seat on Con-air.