Hamilton County - Police captured the Indiana pilot who they say tried to fake his own death. Geist businessman Marcus Schrenker took off from Indiana Sunday night.
We're learning more about Schrenker's personal life and his wife's recent decision to file for divorce. Her attorney says Michelle Schrenker knew nothing about any financial problems and wanted out because her husband was having an affair.
Michelle Schrenker says her husband Marcus was having an affair for months, and though she wanted to reconcile, she alleges he continued the relationship. She says she found out about allegations of fraud in his business dealings only when state investigators showed up at their waterfront Geist home on December 31 to serve a search warrant - the day before she filed for divorce.
Michelle Schrenker's statement:
Schrenker's wife issued a statement through her attorney Wednesday. Michelle Schrenker filed for divorce on December 30, 2008, but her reason was not related to her husband's financial or legal troubles.
The following statement is from Mary F. Schmid, with Stewart and Irwin, PC, who represents Michelle Schrenker:
"Michelle first contacted me this past summer to discuss a divorce from her husband because he was having an affair. At the time, she wanted to work on reconciling with her husband. However, he continued his affair and, as a result, on December 30, 2008, she filed a petition for dissolution of her marriage to Marcus Schrenker. Her decision to file for divorce was based on her husband's infidelity and in no way was based on the investment fraud of which he is accused. In fact, Michelle first learned of the allegations against him when, on December 31, 2008, the police and investigators came to her door to search her home. To Michelle's dismay, at the time her home was being searched, Marcus was in Florida with his girlfriend.
Clearly, Michelle and her three young children are victims of this man's deceitfulness as well. She is not guilty of anything other than trusting her husband of 13 years. Everyone should remember that Michelle and her children are suffering through a terrible time right now. Through no fault of their own, they are having to deal with the repercussions of this man's behavior and will be doing so for a long time to come."
Just two days ago, Schrenker mentioned his wife in an email to a friend sent while he was hiding from authorities at a Florida campground.
"Michelle is a great woman. Life has been very hard for me and Michelle has certainly felt the brunt of my stress and problems. I hope you will clear her name of any wrong doing. She filed for divorce on December 30th, 2008, I and I deserved it. I still love her deeply and I am so sorry for how terrible I treated her."
In addition to the divorce, Schrenker faces two felonies for allegedly deceiving clients whom he gave financial advice to. He could spend two to 16 years in prison if convicted. Late Wednesday, federal charges were announced against Schrenker for intentionally downing the plane and
faking a distress call.
"Our philosophy, or at least my philosophy is that we would recommend any sentence needed to prevent this from happening again," said Jeffrey Wehmueller, Hamilton County Chief Deputy Prosecutor, regarding the financial fraud charges.
Once Marcus Schrenker is healthy enough to appear before a judge, he'll be sent back to Hamilton County. He's expected to be well enough to travel in a few days.
On Tuesday, a warrant was issued for his arrest on criminal charges of fraud stemming from allegations he worked as an unlicensed broker. Bond has been set at $4 million cash.
"He apparently has the resources to avoid prosecution. Based on that there is a risk he will not appear at court when required. That is why the bond has been set so high," said Wehmueller.
Schrenker's waterfront Geist home was searched on December 31st. A computer and other items were taken, apparently as evidence. That's when his wife Michelle says she learned of the fraud investigation. The day before December 30th, she filed for divorce, citing infidelity. To Michelle's dismay, at the time her home was being searched, Marcus was in Florida with his girlfriend.
Sunday night email
Eyewitness News has obtained a copy of the email Schrenker apparently sent to friend and business associate Tom Britt. In it, Schrenker writes (verbatim with some misspellings):
"I cannot bear the magnitude of the pain I have caused Michelle and the kids. It is true that I have wanted to end my life for sometime. Although If I would have wanted to commit suicide with an aircraft I just would have flown it into a mountain. I would never purposely abandon [sic] an aircraft and endanger other lives. I'm sorry again. I never meant to hurt anyone. When life becomes too much people do stupid things."
"This other Marcus Schrenker"
Tom Britt, the Geist man who considers himself a good friend of Marcus Schrenker, appeared on The Today Show Wednesday morning and described his relationship with the pilot.
"The Marcus I knew was the guy taking pictures at the football games and giving pictures to the parents. Snowplowing neighbors driveways for them. Just all around community guy. Giving back, sponsoring events for local charities," said Tom Britt. "But there's this other Marcus Schrenker that you kept hearing stories about. This is the guy you'd hear about draining somebody's pool next door out of spite, or there was a legendary story of him driving a pontoon boat off of Geist Reservoir's dam. So, that side of the story never sank up with the Marcus I knew."
"I think the victim here is his family and kids. As a community, we feel terrible for them. We see Marcus on TV doing stunts and things. We know what he's done. We've kind of known the stories, but there are victims back at Geist that we feel terrible about."
Marcia Gazoolis, Schrenker's mother, said she was shocked at the $4 million cash bond that has been set for her son.
"I never heard of that on all these horrible people, a $4 million bond, cash - on bank robbers, on murderers, rapists? I've never heard that. I just - I can't believe what I'm hearing," said Gazoolis.
In the email, Schrenker also wrote, "I have been under so much stress that I have not felt good in some time. Nothing is clear and my thoughts are surely blurred."
After bailing out of his plane, he said, "I woke up some time after that on the ground. I had no idea where I was and walked to the nearest house. I asked for a ride back to where I could get a hotel to figure out what happened. I did not tell them about what happened as I was embarrased [sic] and scared. I just made a 2 million dollar mistake. It is true that I made up a name to check into the hotel."