Missing pilot arrested in Florida

Marc Schrenker

Quincy, Fla. - Federal authorities say the pilot at the center of a plane crash mystery was found alive in northern Florida Tuesday night after he apparently slit one of his wrists.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Michael Richards says 38-year-old Marcus Schrenker was apprehended around 10 p.m. EST Tuesday in a tent at a campground in Quincy.

Frank Chiumento, an assistant chief with the U.S. Marshals in Florida, said officers had to tend to Schrenker's self-inflicted gash to the wrist before he was airlifted to Tallahassee Memorial Hospital. Schrenker was listed in fair condition early Wednesday morning.

The self-inflicted gash was "very serious at the time," Chiumento said. "He was bleeding profusely from the wounds to the left arm." 

Schrenker was semiconscious and muttering single words but appeared to resist first aid from the marshals.

"Just as we were administering first aid to him we were giving him assurances that he would be OK and he seemed to mutter some words that he was resistant to that. He muttered 'die' at one time as if he didn't want the first aid that we were rendering to him," Chiumento said on ABC's "Good Morning America."

A law enforcement official, speaking on condition of anonymity because no charges have been publicly filed yet, said prosecutors in Florida are considering whether to charge Schrenker with two federal crimes: one for making a false distress call, and another for recklessly letting his plane crash.

Schrenker arrived at the campground Monday night riding his motorcycle, and paid $25.75 in cash for a night on the grounds, said Caroline Hastings, 32, who owns and operates the campground with her husband. She gave him a code to use wireless Internet, four bottles of water and six bundles of firewood. He also bought a six-pack of Bud Light Lime, and said he was leaving in the morning, she said. But by Tuesday, he still wasn't gone, and hadn't paid for another night.

Evidence, including the motorcycle authorities believe Schrenker used to get away, was being analyzed Wednesday morning, Chiumento said. He wouldn't describe what else was found at the Chattahoochee campground, but did say the investigation revealed Schrenker was prepared to be on the run for some time.

Quincy is approximately 20 miles northwest of Tallahassee, Florida.

Legal troubles worsen

Schrenker, who owns a business in Fishers is facing charges  that he broke the law while investing other people's money.

Ordered held on a $4 million cash bond, a judge issued an arrest warrant for Schrenker on charges that he continued to conduct business after the state revoked his registration as an investment advisor at the end of December.

"He is conducting business as an investment representative and not properly registered with the Secretary of State's office," said Jeff Wehmueller, Hamilton County prosecutor's office.

Charged with two felonies, the fugitive's professional and personal life was spiraling out of control before he parachuted from his airplane over Alabama on Sunday.

The 38-year-old's home and business were searched by authorities probing his financial management business, his wife filed for divorce, his stepfather died and a Maryland court entered a half-million-dollar judgment against him. Schrenker was no stranger to the legal system over the last ten years. He was either named as a plaintiff or defendant in 21 lawsuits including filing for bankruptcy in 2003.

Former Geist neighbor Jack Stone was a one-time client of Schrenker's investment companies.

"He talked me into investing with his company and within six months, I'd lost $150,000," said Stone.

With more former clients coming forward with similar stories, the man they trusted with their financial futures tried to vanish and is clearly on the run.

Schrenker's assets are temporarily frozen and his passport was seized by investigators on December 31st which made it difficult for him to leave the country. He could lose his securities license for life.

$4 million bond expected

Schrenker will have to post a huge bond. A Hamilton County prosecutor said they would request $4 million in cash when Schrenker appears at trial.

Prosecutors charged him Tuesday with dealing in investments even though the state pulled his credentials last month. With investigators closing in, he took off from Anderson Airport Sunday, bailed out over Alabama while his empty plane crashed in Florida and was on the run for three days.

Two weeks ago Schrenker posted his aerial exploits on YouTube and his trick flying was an air show hit.

"He seemed like a good guy. That's why people trusted him so much," said Tom Newman at MJ Aircraft in Anderson.

His company did custom interior work on two of Schrenker's airplanes, including specialty upholstery on the plane he crashed in Florida Sunday.

"I happened to notice our custom seats sitting upside down in the swamps and it was rather disappointing," Newman said. "Apparently his ways are catching up with him."

Schrenker's friend, Tom Britt thinks he got an e-mail message from Schrenker Monday night.

"He was trying to explain his side of things," Britt said, adding that the e-mail said the crash was an accident, that he passed out from decompression. "He said, 'By the time you read this, I will be gone.' That's pretty troubling."

In a phone message to Britt, Schrenker blamed another man for the firm's problems saying, "He has flipped out and we don't know what's owed to who."

Schrenker's mother found it hard to believe that her son had deceived anyone.

"What makes sense is he had plane trouble. That's what makes sense. Give him some time and I think he will turn himself in probably," said Marcia Galoozis.

Related links

Judge orders arrest of Geist pilot

Search continues for missing Geist pilot

See the charges against Schrenker