Businessman May Have Faked Death

Indiana businessman Marcus Schrenker may have faked his death because of mounting financial and legal troubles. On Sunday, Schrenker took off in his plane headed to Florida. Mid-flight, he parachuted out over Alabama. Carol Robinson, a senior reporter with the Birmingham News, about the latest developments in the search for Schrenker.

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MICHELE NORRIS, host:

This is All Things Considered from NPR News. I'm Michele Norris.

MELISSA BLOCK, host:

And I'm Melissa Block. He could be anywhere at all. Those are the words of the police chief in Harpersville, Alabama, today, about the dramatic disappearance of Marcus Schrenker.

NORRIS: Schrenker is an Indiana businessman who was in trouble. His financial management company was being investigated for fraud. And police say it looks like Schrenker tried to fake his own death on Sunday by bailing out of a private plane over Alabama and letting it fly on to crash in Florida. Today, police released some new details about their investigation. Carol Robinson is with the Birmingham News. She joins us now. Ms. Robinson...

Ms. CAROL ROBINSON (Senior Reporter, Birmingham News): Hello.

NORRIS: Police now say they think when Schrenker landed, he made his way to a rental-storage facility where he had a motorcycle waiting for him, is that correct?

Ms. ROBINSON: That's correct. Apparently, he put the motorcycle in storage on Saturday. When authorities went to search the storage unit yesterday evening, it was gone. And they found the clothes he had last been seen wearing. I think it was some tennis shoes and some damp pants.

Because when they first had contact with him, the Childersburg police did not know of the plane crash. Schrenker had approached them in a store, said he had been in a canoeing accident. He was only wet from the waist down.

NORRIS: And again, we think he actually got out of the plane by parachute?

Ms. ROBINSON: Yes. There seems to be little doubt that that is how he escaped.

NORRIS: And when he presented himself to Childersburg police and said he had been in this canoeing accident, what, if anything, did police do at that point?

Ms. ROBINSON: They took him to a motel in Harpersville, the Harpersville Motel, and he checked in under the name of his brother.

NORRIS: So he checks into a hotel and then at some point, he disappears, makes his way back, and allegedly gets on the motorcycle and takes off.

Ms. ROBINSON: Correct. And from there, it's anyone's guess.

NORRIS: Now, Marc Schrenker is 38 years old. As we said, he is an Indiana businessman who was facing a bit of financial turmoil. Could you tell us a little bit more about what you've been able to find out about him?

Ms. ROBINSON: Yeah, there seems to be mixed reports. I mean, by all accounts he at one time was a very successful businessman, had several companies that he was operating, you know, in and around Indiana. Published reports have said that he was in the middle of a divorce, that his companies had been searched by the Feds, you know, for all sorts of securities violation. I spoke with his mother, and I think there was a great deal of personal turmoil as well. His longtime stepfather was buried on Friday, and you know, in her words, there was a lot going on.

NORRIS: Indiana authorities have just issued two felony warrants against Marc Schrenker. Could you tell us about that?

Ms. ROBINSON: Sure. They have been working on this investigation, apparently, for several weeks. The warrants charge Schrenker with letting his license as an investment adviser lapse, and then the second charge says that he continued to operate as an adviser without a license.

NORRIS: Tell me about the manhunt.

Ms. ROBINSON: I'm not sure you could actually call it a manhunt in the traditional terms of a manhunt, where you see hundreds of law-enforcement officers actually in a specific, targeted area searching for him. The U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force, both in Alabama and in Indiana, are not necessarily on his heels, but whatever secret mechanisms they have to track people, I think, are being done 24/7 at this point.

NORRIS: Carol, thank you very much.

Ms. ROBINSON: You're welcome.

NORRIS: Carol Robinson is a reporter with the Birmingham News. She was talking about the disappearance of Marcus Schrenker. Authorities say he tried to fake his death in a plane crash on Sunday.

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