|Born||November 22, 1970|
|Charge(s)||Securities fraud, deceiving the Coast Guard, illegal destruction of an aircraft|
|Status||Captured, awaiting trial in Indiana, currently being held at the Hamilton County Jail.|
Marcus Schrenker (born November 22, 1970) is a financial manager known for attempting to fake his own death and the multi-state, three-day manhunt that followed. Schrenker lived and worked in Fishers, Indiana.
Schrenker was an investment advisor, managing pension funds worth millions of dollars. He owned two private airplanes and a $1.7 million home on Geist Reservoir near Fishers, Indiana. On October 15, 2005, Schrenker purchased a 6,260-square-foot (582 m2) home in Acworth, Georgia, for $1.65 million. Schrenker and his family lived in the neighborhood of Governors Towne Club in Acworth, Georgia, until the fall of 2007, after which they moved back to their previous neighborhood in Indiana. He owned three financial companies: Heritage Wealth Management, Heritage Insurance Services and Icon Wealth Management.
In January 2008, The Indiana Department of Insurance filed a complaint against Schrenker on behalf of seven investors who claim he neglected to inform them that they would face high fees if they switched annuities, which subsequently cost them roughly $250,000. On December 31, 2008, Schrenker's Indiana state financial adviser's license expired and authorities from Indiana Secretary of State Todd Rokita's Securities Division raided his home in search of evidence of securities violations. On January 6, 2009, Schrenker was charged in Hamilton County, Indiana with unlawful acts by a compensated adviser and unlawful transaction by an investment adviser, and his bail was set at $4 million. On January 9, he lost $533,500 in a federal court ruling in Maryland against one of his companies.
In addition to Schrenker's mounting business problems, Schrenker's wife of 13 years, Michelle, filed for divorce on December 30, 2008. The following day, she told the authorities searching their home that her husband had been having an affair. A press release from her lawyers claims that she had no idea about Schrenker's financial dealings, and their split was solely a result of his infidelities.
In all, at least eight lawsuits were filed against Schrenker in the ten years leading up to his arrest, including slander, interfering with a business relationship, and failing to pay a contractor who worked on one of his homes. There is speculation that Schrenker's accumulated personal and business problems may have caused his attempt to fake his own death.
On January 10, Schrenker traveled to Harpersville, Alabama, in a pickup truck carrying a red Yamaha motorcycle with saddlebags containing money and supplies. He returned to Indiana after placing the motorcycle in a storage facility, telling the owner he would return and retrieve the motorcycle the following Monday.
On January 11, 2009, Schrenker departed in his single-engine Piper Meridian from an airfield in Anderson, Indiana, scheduled to fly to Destin, Florida. Near Birmingham, Alabama, he made a distress call, telling air traffic controllers that his windshield had imploded and he was "bleeding profusely." He then set the plane to autopilot and parachuted out. The plane flew on, crossing Alabama before ultimately crashing in Santa Rosa County, Florida. Military jets that had been dispatched to intercept Schrenker's plane discovered it in flight, with its door open and cockpit empty. They followed the plane until it crashed just north of Milton, Florida at about 9:20pm. The plane had flown 200 miles (320 km) on autopilot and crashed 50 to 75 yards from a residential area. Upon inspecting the crash site, police discovered a United States atlas and a national campground directory, both of which had the Florida and Alabama sections torn out.
After parachuting to the ground, Schrenker made his way to a private residence in Childersburg, Alabama, arriving around 2:30am on January 12. Appearing wet from the knees down, he told the resident he had been in a canoeing accident. He received a ride into town, where he made contact with the local police station. Not yet linking Schrenker to the crash, the police brought him to a hotel in Harpersville, where he checked in under a false name and paid for his room with cash. When police returned later that morning, he had fled on foot into nearby woods. Schrenker then traveled to the storage facility where he had earlier located his motorcycle, and then rode the vehicle to a KOA Campground in Quincy, Florida. Without offering his name, he told the owners of the grounds that he was traveling cross country with friends, using cash to purchase a one-night tent site, firewood, and a six pack of Bud Light Lime. He was also given access to the campground's wireless internet.
On January 12, Schrenker emailed neighbor and friend Tom Britt, stating the crash was "a misunderstanding" and that he had checked into the motel because he was "embarrassed and scared" of returning home. He also said that he would likely "be gone" by the time Britt read the email. The same day, a Hamilton County Superior Court judge froze the assets of both Schrenker and his estranged wife.
At about 10pm on January 13, officials captured Schrenker in a pup tent at the Quincy campground. The ground's owners, Troy and Caroline Hastings, grew suspicious when the man had failed to check out by 5pm. Upon approaching Schrenker's site, Troy Hasting noticed a large red stain on the outer flap of his tent. The couple were soon contacted by the local sheriff, who asked if anything unusual had happened recently at the camp. Mr. Hastings told the officer about the suspicious camper; shortly thereafter, authorities swarmed the campground.
Investigators told the press that he had slashed his left wrist, had an additional self-inflicted wound near his elbow, and was barely conscious. US Marshal Assistant Chief Deputy Frank Chiumento said that Schrenker "wasn’t able to speak very clearly. A lot of the words that he was speaking were unintelligible, but he mentioned 'die' at least two times as we were providing medical treatment to him." He was in a "very incoherent state" and had lost massive amounts of blood by the time authorities first arrived, but paramedics were able to control his bleeding and he was Life-Flighted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Among the items found at the campground with him were knives, a laptop computer, toiletries, clothes and maps.
Because Schrenker's crimes spanned a number of states, including one coastal state, and because the incident involved an aircraft, he may be prosecuted by the United States Coast Guard, the Federal Aviation Administration, as well as Indiana, Alabama, and Florida law enforcement.
He is scheduled to go before a Florida federal judge in Pensacola on January 22, 2009, where he faces two charges: "knowingly and willfully" causing the U.S. Coast Guard to attempt to save his life and property “when no help was needed,” and illegal destruction of an aircraft. At the hearing on January 29, Schrenker's lawyer, Thomas Keith, claimed his client is mentally incompetent and requested to the judge that he undergo a mental evaluation. Schrenker has been sentenced to four years by Roger Vinson.
Indiana prosecutors hope to begin his trial in their state as early as April.
On March 6, 2009, a letter Marcus Schrenker wrote to the Indiana Attorney General and Indiana Secretary of State was published by the news media. In the letter, Schrenker attempted to proclaim his innocence and unfreeze assets stated to belong to his wife.
On June 5, 2009 Marcus Schrenker pled guilty to trying to fake his own death in a plane crash last January. 38 year-old entered his plea in a Florida courtroom and admitted to intentionally crashing his small plane to try to end years of financial and legal problems. He had been ordered to pay investors hundreds of thousands of dollars and faced millions in judgements and other penalties related to an insurance company lawsuit. Schrenker faces up to 26-years in prison, $500,000 in fines, and at least $38,000 in reimbursement to the Coast Guard when he's sentenced at a later date.
On August 19, 2009, Marcus Schrenker was sentenced to four years for charges related to the crash.