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 at a North Florida campground where he had apparently tried to take his own life, said Alabama-based U.S. Marshals spokesman Michael Richards.
Schrenker was taken into custody Tuesday night after officers from the U.S. Marshal’s office in Tallahassee, Fla., found him inside a tent at a campground in nearby Quincy, Richards said.
“He had cut one of his wrists, but he is still alive,” Richards said.
The missing pilot was tracked down after investigators developed leads that he might be in Florida and forwarded to U.S. Marshals officers there, Richards said.
Schrenker was on the run not only from the law but also from divorce, a state investigation of his businesses and angry investors who accuse him of stealing potentially millions in savings they entrusted to him.
The events of the past few days appeared 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. Pilots followed until the aircraft crashed in a Florida Panhandle bayou surrounded by homes.
More than 220 miles to the north, at a convenience store in Childersburg, Ala., police picked up a man using Schrenker’s Indiana driver’s license and carrying a pair of what appeared to be pilot’s goggles. He told the officers he’d been in a canoe accident.
After officers gave him a lift to a motel, Schrenker apparently made his way to a storage unit he’d rented the day before his flight. He climbed aboard a red racing motorcycle with full saddlebags, and sped off into the countryside.