By now, you’ve probably heard the story of Marcus Schrenker, the beleaguered Indiana businessman who (allegedly) attempted to fake his own death last Sunday via an elaborate, dare I say Rube Goldbergian, plot of epic proportions.
Our boy, Schrenker (apparently during happier times)
According to reports, Schrenker was in financial hot water over his businesses and facing a divorce. An accomplished pilot and all-around playboy, he decided the simplest solution was just to fly his private plane to Florida, radio a distress call, set the plane on auto-pilot, and then parachute out of said plane, leaving it to crash harmlessly into the Gulf of Mexico. He’d then make his way to a rented self-storage unit and retrieve various items that he had stashed only days earlier, and just sort of “disappear,” leaving everyone to assume he’d died in the crash. What could possibly go wrong?
When Schrenker radioed air-traffic controllers to tell them his windshield had imploded and he was bleeding severely, they promptly diverted him to a nearby airport. When he didn’t respond, they dispatched military aircraft to intercept him. The military pilots reported that his cockpit door was open, and the cabin was dark, so he had pretty obviously bailed (this proves that military pilots are smarter than the Klingons from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock).
If the Gulf was indeed the intended parking lot for the plane, then he underestimated the fuel requirement, because it subsequently crashed near a Florida neighborhood. Maybe we’re starting to see how this guy’s lack of planning also drove his multiple businesses into the ground.
Meanwhile Schrenker, having landed safely somewhere in the rural Alabama backcountry and probably recalling scenes from Deliverance, decided it would be a good idea to knock on doors in the middle of the night and bum a ride into town. He then approached the police (quite possibly Barney Fife) and claimed he’d been in a canoeing accident (ah, those leisurely nighttime backwater canoeing expeditions).
At this point in the story, I have to ask why someone who is obviously so desperate to evade detection would also assume it’s a good idea to voluntarily approach the police. But I digress…moving on.
Luckily, the officer was oblivious to the larger manhunt situation that was unfolding at the same time and escorted him to a nearby hotel, where the dolt checked in using his actual driver license. Here’s a tip: when you’re trying to ditch your former identity, you probably want to pick-up a fake ID. They’re widely available from any high-school kid looking to score beer.
At least he paid cash for the room, but he also picked a hotel where he was the sole guest that evening (not the best way to go incognito). The motel (I’ve been through southern Alabama, there are no “hotels” there) employee reported that Schrenker went to his room but never entered; instead, he donned a black cap and fled into the nearby woods, all the while humming the Mission: Impossible theme song under his breath.
By the time authorities put the pieces together, Schrenker had fled the area on a motorcycle that he’d stashed in a self-storage unit only days before his master plot unfolded (also under an assumed name), leaving only damp clothes behind. At this point, Schrenker was probably patting himself on the back for having memorized every episode of The Fugitive, including the critically-acclaimed but short-lived CBS remake of the series, starring Tim Daly.
Except that he had pretty much become a household name, and his face was plastered all over CNN, MSNBC, and Fox News. Had it just been MSNBC, he probably would’ve been in the clear, but if you know anything about the culture in rural Alabama, pretty much everyone watches Fox News (in case you didn’t get that last joke, I’m implying that it’s a popular choice among rednecks).
In the following days, he apparently e-mailed a neighbor (“sorry I faked my own death without first returning your leaf-blower”), littered, and committed several jaywalking violations. He was finally apprehended yesterday at a campsite in eastern Florida (dude, the Mexican border is the other way), Schrenker was suffering from “deep cuts” to his wrists (no jokes here, ‘cause that shit ain’t funny). He was taken to an area hospital, where he is expected to fully recover.
I’m left feeling like this plot was bungled on so many levels. What could have been a simple cut-and-run was weighed down with too many gambles and rehashed theatrics. Did he really think the staged plane crash, canoeing story, hotel, and elaborate storage unit ruse was a actually a simple way to disappear? What’s wrong with just emptying a few bank accounts, hopping on that crotch-rocket, and heading north to Canada, consequences be damned?
If and when he ever gets out of prison (oh yeah, on top of everything else, he’s now facing Federal charges for intentionally crashing the plane), perhaps there’s hope for romance. He could always hook up with the “runaway bride,” Jennifer Wilbanks.
Think about it, at least they’d have a shared experience to talk about. Besides, imagine the fascinating tall-tales they could come up with together.