Thu, Jan 15, 2009 - Page 7 News List

Parachutist investor caught after faking death in plane jump

AP , HARPERSVILLE, ALABAMA

With his world crumbling around him, investment adviser Marcus Schrenker opted for a bailout. However, his plan to escape personal turmoil was short-lived.

In a feat reminiscent of a James Bond movie, the 38-year-old businessman and amateur daredevil pilot apparently tried to fake his death in a plane crash, secretly parachuting to the ground and speeding away on a motorcycle he had stashed away in the pine barrens of central Alabama.

But the captivating three-day saga came to an end when authorities finally caught up to Schrenker in North Florida. Gadsden County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Jim Corder said late on Tuesday that police had Schrenker in custody.

Schrenker was on the run not only from the law but from divorce, a state investigation of his businesses and angry investors who accuse him of stealing potentially millions in savings they entrusted to him.

On Sunday — two days after burying his beloved stepfather and suffering a US$500,000 loss in federal court the same day — Schrenker was flying his single-engine Piper Malibu to Florida from his Indiana home when he radioed from 600m that he was in trouble. He told the tower the windshield had imploded, and that his face was plastered with blood.

Then his radio went silent.

Military jets tried to intercept the plane and found the door open, the cockpit dark. The pilots followed until the aircraft crashed in a Florida Panhandle bayou surrounded by homes. There was no sign of Schrenker’s body. They now know they should never have expected to find one.

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