HARPERSVILLE, Ala.–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 Lt. Jim Corder said late Tuesday night that police there 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.
"We've learned over time that he's a pathological liar – you don't believe a single word that comes out of his mouth," said Charles Kinney, a 49-year-old airline pilot from Atlanta who alleges Schrenker pocketed at least $135,000 of his parents' retirement fund.
The events of the past few days appear to be a last, desperate gambit by a man who had fallen from great heights and was about to hit bottom.
On Sunday – two days after burying his beloved stepfather and suffering a half-million-dollar 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 2,000 feet 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.