Marcus Schrenker

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Marcus Schrenker
Occupation Financial advisor
Criminal charge Illegal destruction of an aircraft, deceiving the Coast Guard (federal), securities fraud, operating as an investment banker without being registered (state)[1]
Criminal penalty 14 years 3 months in prison, $1.5 million restitution
Spouse(s) Michelle Schrenker (divorced)
Children Three
Conviction(s) June 5, 2009 (federal, pleaded guilty)
October 7, 2010 (state, pleaded guilty)

Marcus Schrenker (born November 22, 1970) is a financial manager known for attempting to fake his own death due to years of financial and legal trouble and the multi-state, three-day manhunt that followed in January 2009.[2][3][4] He pleaded guilty in June 2009 and was sentenced four years and three months in prison. On October 2010, Schenker pleaded guilty to five counts of original charges and was given 10 years' imprisonment to run consecutively with his current sentence. Schrenker lived and worked in Geist, a neighborhood in Indianapolis.


Schrenker was an investment advisor, managing pension funds worth millions of dollars. He owned two private airplanes and an expensive family home. He owned three financial companies: Heritage Wealth Management, Heritage Insurance Services and Icon Wealth Management.[4] Schrenker is a graduate of Purdue University, where he met his wife Michelle Daley[5][6] in the mid-1990s, and they had three children together.[6]

Fraud charges

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.[4][6][7][8] 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.[4] 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.[7] The following day, she told the authorities searching their home that her husband had been having an affair.[9] 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.[10]

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.[11] Schrenker would later plead guilty to faking his own death after accumulated personal and business problems.[12][13]

Plane crash and manhunt

On Saturday, January 10, 2009, Schrenker traveled to Harpersville, Alabama, in a pickup truck carrying a red Yamaha motorcycle with saddlebags containing money and supplies.[14] 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.[7]

On January 11, 2009, Schrenker departed in his turboprop single-engine Piper Meridian (tail number N428DC) from an airfield in Anderson, Indiana, scheduled to fly to Destin, Florida.[15] Near Birmingham, Alabama, he made a distress call, telling air traffic controllers that his windshield had imploded and he was "bleeding profusely."[2][16] 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.[16] They followed the plane until it crashed just north of Milton, Florida at about 9:20pm.[16][17] The plane had flown 200 miles (320 km) on autopilot and crashed 50 to 75 yards from a residential area.[2][17] Upon inspecting the crash site, investigators discovered that there was no blood inside the plane and the windshield showed no sign of problem.[16] On board the aircraft they found a United States atlas and a national campground directory, both of which had the Florida and Alabama sections torn out.[18]

After parachuting to the ground, Schrenker made his way to a private residence in Childersburg, Alabama, arriving around 2:30am on January 12.[4] Appearing wet from the knees down,[4][7] 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.[4] When police returned later that morning, he had fled on foot into nearby woods.[2] Schrenker then traveled to the storage facility where he had earlier located his motorcycle,[14][19] and then rode the vehicle to a KOA Campground in Quincy, Florida.[18][20] 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.[18] He was also given access to the campground's wireless internet.[18]

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.[19] He also said that he would likely "be gone" by the time Britt read the email.[21] The same day, a Hamilton County Superior Court judge froze the assets of both Schrenker and his estranged wife.[6]


At about 10pm on January 13, officials captured Schrenker in a pup tent at the Quincy campground.[17][22][23] The ground's owners, Troy and Caroline Hastings, grew suspicious when the man had failed to check out by 5pm.[18] Upon approaching Schrenker's site, Troy Hasting noticed a large red stain on the outer flap of his tent.[18] 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.[18]

Investigators told the press that he had slashed his left wrist, had an additional self-inflicted wound near his elbow, and was barely conscious.[14][17] 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."[17] 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.[17] Among the items found at the campground with him were knives, a laptop computer, toiletries, clothes and maps.[17]


On February 5, 2009 an Alabama circuit court judge granted a $12 million judgment against Schrenker for the 2002 sale of a defective airplane to a man in Dothan, Alabama.[24]

On June 5, 2009 Schrenker pleaded guilty 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.

On August 19, 2009 Schrenker was sentenced by federal judge Roger Vinson to four years and three months in prison for the faked crash. He was also required to pay $34,000 in restitution to the Coast Guard and $871,000 in restitution to Harley-Davidson, the plane's lien-holder.[25][26]

Schrenker was later charged with nine counts of securities fraud and two counts of working as an investment banker without being registered. He pleaded guilty to three counts of securities fraud and two counts of working as an investment banker without being registered and was sentenced to 10 years' imprisonment (to run consecutively with the sentence for the faked plane crash) on October 7, 2010. He also had to pay $633,781 in restitution.[27]


  1. article: "Indiana Fund Manager Indicted for Faking His Death".
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 article: "Fishers pilot vanishes over Alabama".
  3. "Judge freezes assets of pilot whose plane crashed without him". CNN. 2009-01-13. Retrieved 2009-01-13. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 4.6 CNN article: "U.S. marshals: Pilot could face federal charges".
  5. results show a "Michelle Daley Schrenker" living in all the same locations that Marcus Schrenker has lived.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 WAAY-TV article: "Pilot Suspected of Faking Death Captured in Florida." - Article names Tara Daley as Schrenker's sister-in-law. Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "waay" defined multiple times with different content
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 7.3 Timeline: Marcus Schrenker Plane Hoax Mystery".
  8. "Investors Complained About Missing Ind. Pilot", Associated Press via Yahoo News, January 13, 2009
  9. Pensacola News Journal article: "It's normally real quiet".
  10. Women on the Web article: "Michelle Schrenker Ignorant of Hubby's Bad Business, Says Lawyer".
  11. Indianapolis Star article: "Fishers businessman cut his wrist, officials say".
  12. CNN article: "Florida plane crash".
  13. Associated Press article: [1]
  14. 14.0 14.1 14.2 Associated Press article: "Agent: Investor mutters "die" as run from law ends".
  16. 16.0 16.1 16.2 16.3 The Guardian article: "Businessman faked death by jumping from plane".
  17. 17.0 17.1 17.2 17.3 17.4 17.5 17.6 article: "Updated: Agencies traveling to Quincy to determine what charges fugitive Indiana businessman will face".
  18. 18.0 18.1 18.2 18.3 18.4 18.5 18.6 MSNBC article: "Cockpit items led cops to missing financier."
  19. 19.0 19.1 The Scotsman article: "Financier fakes down death in air crash before fleeing".
  20. ABC News article: "New Charges for Pilot Suspected of Faking Death".
  21. MSNBC article: "Search continues for missing Geist pilot".
  22. "Parachuting Fugitive Captured in Florida", Associated Press via Yahoo News, January 13, 2009
  23. NECN news article: "Missing pilot Schrenker found".
  24. Marcus Schrenker's woes continue to grow (11 Feb. 2009)
  25. "Man gets 4 years for crashing plane, trying to fake death", CNN, August 19, 2009
  26. "Marcus Schrenker Sentenced" AP / WCTV, Tallahassee, Florida. 19 August 2009. Retrieved on 7 August 2010.
  27. Schrenker Sentenced To 10 Years In Prison. WRTV, 2010-10-08.

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