Executive Stages Plane Crash, Fails To Fake DeathS

Marcus Schrenker is surely one of the most memorable villains to emerge in the financial crisis: The "wealth management" advisor is believed to have crashed an airplane to fake his own death.

Schrenker, who runs Heritage Wealth Management Inc., Heritage Insurance Services Inc. and Icon Wealth Management, radioed in to air traffic controllers Sunday night that his windshield had "imploded" amid turbulence and that he was "bleeding profusely." Controllers tried to divert him to an airfield near his location over Huntsville, Alabama.

But the radio went silent. Military jets were scrambled. By dropping flares, their pilots observed the door to Schrenker's plane, still in flight, was open, and the cockpit was dark. The plane crashed into a swamp. In the wreckage, investigators observed the windshield was still intact. No blood was found in the cabin. It was later revealed that Schrenker was a respected pilot with a background in aerobatics.

Then the story gets even more bizarre.

Two hundred twenty five miles from the crash site (or 30, according to the Times), a man wet from the knees down with "goggles that looked like they were made for flying" approached police officers Monday morning in a store and said he'd been in a canoeing accident. When asked to produce identification, the man, apparently Schrenker, showed his real Indiana driver's license, for some reason. He was then driven to a hotel, where he checked in under an assumed name.

Police returned when they learned of Schrenker's plane crash, but by then he had put "on a black cap and run into the woods next to the hotel," according to AP.

AP also reported that a neighbor later received an email, apparently from Schrenker saying "the situation was a misunderstanding and he feared he would soon be dead."

Schrenker, shown in the promotional photo above, had plenty of problems. His wife Michelle, pictured next to him, filed for divorce. His father died Friday. He was ordered to pay half a million dollars after skipping a court hearing with a company upset over problems with "insurance or annuity plans" one of his companies sold, according to AP. And state insurance regulators charged him with misappropriating customers' money, according to the Indianapolis Star Tribune.

Schrenker continues to evade the authorities, and his antics might produce a page-turning thriller. The advance on such a book would hardly cover the $1.5 million-ish cost of his Piper Meridian, or the $1.5 million suit National Western Life Insurance has out against him. But then there's always bankruptcy, white-collar jail and redemption.

UPDATE: Writes a pilot, "There is really no better airplane [than a Meridian like Schrenker's]... if you want people to believe you when you call ATC and say that your windshield has imploded... I give him a lot of credit for being able to parachute out of a Meridian, a plane whose door is a good long walk from the pilot’s seat and right next to the tail."