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Windshield Imploded, Military Intercept, Cockpit Empty and Dark over Florida Skies
January 12, 2009 1:07 PM   Subscribe

A pilot who apparently faked a distress call and bailed out of his Piper Malibu is now on the run. The pilot and his company, Heritage Wealth Management, were recently sued. Is this another DB Cooper?
posted by exogenous (83 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
I'm sure this must have seemed like a great plan when he was coming up with it.
posted by jeffkramer at 1:12 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Wait a minute. If his plan was to vanish from the world and elude the authorities, why did he walk up to an officer, tell him he was involved in a canoeing accident, then show the officer his driver's license? Dude, you're doing it wrong. Use cash. No police officers. And next time, crash your damn plane in freaking MEXICO, not Alabama.

Amateurs.
posted by billysumday at 1:20 PM on January 12, 2009


Wait, he went to the police and told them he was in a canoe accident?
posted by Artw at 1:22 PM on January 12, 2009


Someone's been watching too many movies.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:25 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Also, that airplane's worth a few million. He should have just sold it and used the proceeds for his legal defense.
posted by backseatpilot at 1:26 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


The phone number for his financial management business was disconnected, and public records do not list his current home phone number.

Too bad he wasn't as creative with his clients' money as he was running away from the mess he made with it.

A map of East Milton, Florida where the plane finally crashed shows it to be populated -- it's just luck that nobody on the ground was killed. Which suggests to me that he planned his escape exactly as he managed his clients' money -- not giving a damn about anyone except himself.
posted by Chinese Jet Pilot at 1:27 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


From the first link:

"Santa Rosa County Sheriff’s Office officials received a call on 1/12/09 at 2:26 am from the Childersburg Police Department, in Alabama. Their officers told the Sheriff’s Office that a white male subject came up to one of their officers at a store in Childersburg and said that he had been in a canoeing accident with some friends. The subject was only wet from the knees down and had no other injuries. The subject was identified by the officer as Schrenker by means of an Indiana Drivers License. Schrenker also had some goggles that looked like they were made for “flying”. The officers in that jurisdiction were unaware of the plane crash incident at that time and took the subject to a nearby hotel in Harpersville, Alabama."

FCAEPLAM
posted by billysumday at 1:28 PM on January 12, 2009


Schrenker also had some goggles that looked like they were made for “flying”

Here's the World War One flying ace down behind enemy lines...
posted by bondcliff at 1:30 PM on January 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


Unless he's been watching a lot of Survivorman, I don't think he'll stay in the woods for long.
posted by ob at 1:32 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Except the "D" in this case stands for "Dumb", and the "B" for "Ass".
posted by steef at 1:34 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Holy crikey. I live ON Geist Reservoir (the At Geist in the first link). This is unintentionally hilarious.
posted by leotrotsky at 1:34 PM on January 12, 2009


Hmmm... apparently I was right, even though the title of this says not in custody he is apparently in custody. There's also a touching picture of him and his wife in front of a jet. How lovely!
posted by ob at 1:35 PM on January 12, 2009


Except it's not a jet. Whoops.
posted by ob at 1:37 PM on January 12, 2009


The indianapolis office is about 1/2 mile down the street.

How did the plan get to the point of, "then jump out of plane"?
posted by leotrotsky at 1:39 PM on January 12, 2009


lolwut. Like, ok this guy has probably seen The Fugitive, right? That guy dyes his hair and sleeps under the leaves. He doesn't just check into A LOCAL MOTEL.

Marge: Oh my God. What happened to your fingers?
Legs: [off-camera] Boating accident.
Skinner: I believe it was a... boking accident. [a laser sight is aimed at his temple] I have to go now.

posted by ninjew at 1:41 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cooper didn't kill anyone, AFAIK, and he disappeared 37 years ago. Wouldn't the statue of limitations have expired by now?
posted by Joe Beese at 1:43 PM on January 12, 2009


Sorry for the inadvertent Kramer-ism there. I meant "statute", of course.
posted by Joe Beese at 1:43 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Cooper likely expired 37 years ago.
posted by applemeat at 1:48 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


even though the title of this says not in custody he is apparently in custody....

At the bottom of that page: "Police have found Schrenker and currently have him in custody."
posted by ericb at 1:57 PM on January 12, 2009


Additional background.
posted by applemeat at 1:59 PM on January 12, 2009


After the call came in, military aircraft were dispatched to intercept the plane. The jets spotted the Piper and deployed flares to illuminate the plane as it was flying and noticed that its door was open and the cockpit was dark, according to the Santa Rosa authorities. The jets continued to follow the plane until it crashed.

You have to figure that must have been pretty surreal for the chase pilots. After they determined that they were following an empty plane, and they know it is going to end in a crash because there is nothing else for it to do, they must have been thinking things like, "Should we shoot it down?" and "So... how much trouble would I actually get in if I did shoot it down...?" or "You know, you don't get many chances to shoot down a civilian aircraft and not get a court-martial... I could say it was drifting into a populated area..."

I'm just saying, it must have felt weird.

And kinda awesome.
posted by quin at 2:01 PM on January 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


A waste of a perfect good plane.
posted by yeti at 2:03 PM on January 12, 2009


When I do this, I'll be on a direct course out into the ocean, at the highest altitude possible for sky diving. I'll set the plane on auto-pilot, bail out, and then glide my parachute back to the beach. My plane will have just enough fuel for about 30 minutes of level flight; after that it'll run out and glide/crash into the ocean. This will be done on a moonless night with the aid of night vision goggles.

They'll never find my body and they'll assume that I escaped the craft but then drowned. I won't crash it on land. I won't ask cops for assistance. I'll have changed my appearance, gotten new identity papers, and will have large sums of cash on reserve. Nobody will suspect anything until a Google search turns up this post.
posted by spikeleemajortomdickandharryconnickjrmints at 2:05 PM on January 12, 2009 [26 favorites]


"You know, you don't get many chances to shoot down a civilian aircraft and not get a court-martial... I could say it was drifting into a populated area..."

Well, you know how Murphy's Law works... shoot it down in an unpopulated area and the carcass will somehow fall on some bigwig's Escalade on the nearest highway.
posted by crapmatic at 2:08 PM on January 12, 2009


In other financial news .... Bernie Madoff still free and kickin' it on The Upper East Side.
posted by R. Mutt at 2:09 PM on January 12, 2009


He was looking for a bailout.
posted by applemeat at 2:10 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Fark is going to enjoy this pic.
posted by cjorgensen at 2:11 PM on January 12, 2009


He sounds like a character right out of a Carl Carl Hiaasen book.
posted by rtha at 2:13 PM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


He was looking for a bailout.

Oh, you're a bad, bad lady. *wipes tears from eyes laughing*
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 2:15 PM on January 12, 2009


Carl Carl Hiaasen

I'm glad that he shortened his name.
posted by ob at 2:17 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


The empty cockpit reminds me of the Payne Steward crash.

In this case it looks like the plane almost made the Gulf. Maybe he forget to switch fuel tanks or something.

He was recently ordered to repay a half million. I bet a lot of that money was gone, but that he carried some of the remainder in cash for his trip.
posted by exogenous at 2:18 PM on January 12, 2009


He did have a canoeing accident. He was up Shit Creek without a paddle.
posted by terranova at 2:22 PM on January 12, 2009 [4 favorites]


Too bad. Nice airplane.
posted by bz at 2:27 PM on January 12, 2009


one guy hijacks a commercial airliner, most likely dies in an unheard of escape attempt and has not been identified for longer than pretty much any other carreer criminal in recent history and the other fudges his own demise in what can only be described as the polar opposite to a commercial jet and in such a poor fashion that authorities are laughing about him within seconds. they have about as much in common as they have with a grilled zebra.

but hey, it's a plaaaaane. with wings. it fliiieeees. hm. let's call him 'another DB cooper.'

I'm waiting for 'the next bin laden?' post.
or 'the next 'the next katrina?' post.
or 'the next hitler?' post.

man, do I hate question marks in titles.
posted by krautland at 2:42 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


There's also a touching picture of him and his wife in front of a jet. How lovely!

That always gets me... these people who take professional photographs of themselves standing in front of uber expensive cars and planes with a "Suck it. You know you wish you were as awesome as I am." on their faces. The people who take these photos, well it's like they're documenting their wealth and superiority for posterity before the repo man comes and takes it all away. Visual proof that they're rich and elite. (I've also met people who took these kinds of photos in front of someone else's car or a rented vehicles and pretended they were theirs... funny how just standing in front of expensive stuff in a photo can really make some people believe they're instantly more important as human beings.)

It just strikes me that truly wealthy people probably do not take these photos, that they probably don't need to. I struggle to imagine that real, long-term multizillionaires feeling they need to take photos of themselves standing in front of expensive things to impress others. I'm not picturing Bill Gates running out to the garage with a photographer to pose in front of the Bentley so he can frame it for his mantle... but I could be wrong.
posted by miss lynnster at 2:45 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


When I do this, I'll be on a direct course out into the ocean, at the highest altitude possible for sky diving. ...They'll never find my body

Not if you land near scarabic, no.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 2:48 PM on January 12, 2009 [11 favorites]


It's too bad he didn't end up in the middle of a wide part of the coosa river. He put a lot of peoples lives in danger. While most of the route the plane would have flown is sparsely populated, it still would have had to went over Montgomery not to mention the Fort Walton/San Destin area of Florida. Also, quite possibly could have messed up one of the most beautiful speed trap towns I've ever seen, Florala!
posted by robtf3 at 2:50 PM on January 12, 2009


That always gets me...

Jealous much?
posted by squorch at 2:59 PM on January 12, 2009


but hey, it's a plaaaaane. with wings. it fliiieeees. hm. let's call him 'another DB cooper.'

Let us know when you find someone else who parachuted out of a plane as part of a scheme to get away with a bunch of money that doesn't belong to him.
posted by exogenous at 3:02 PM on January 12, 2009


krautland - the new questions-in-FPPs-Hitler?
posted by Artw at 3:03 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Carl Carl Hiaasen book.

Icanhazeditingfunction plz?

posted by rtha at 3:03 PM on January 12, 2009


Mr. Schrenker apparently has a thing for getting into with law enforcement over his DL, so you'd think maybe he would have thought before producing it so quickly this time around.
posted by batmonkey at 3:16 PM on January 12, 2009


That always gets me...

Me too, it's just very tacky. Not quite as tacky as having a portrait of the whole family in shiny suits standing in front of white stallions grazing the lawn with a backdrop of their faux-castle mansion hanging above the entry-way fireplace, but close.
posted by ob at 3:16 PM on January 12, 2009


That always gets me...

Jealous much?


Oh please. Like they're in my league.

*Holds up photo of herself as an 8 year old standing in front of The Queen Mary*

Checkout my ship! Suck on that, losers!
posted by miss lynnster at 3:27 PM on January 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Jealous much?

Please. This guy is kid stuff. Old money doesn't pose with the props.
posted by applemeat at 3:39 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Bling bling motherfuckers!
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on January 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


Not quite as tacky as having a portrait of the whole family in shiny suits standing in front of white stallions grazing the lawn with a backdrop of their faux-castle mansion hanging above the entry-way fireplace

I would use this statement as illustration of how tacky I am not, but I must confess: I simply have too much trouble keeping the stallions inside the frame before the camera's timer runs out.
posted by davejay at 3:51 PM on January 12, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yes, the photo of the man with all his trophies: plane, car, and wife.
posted by Eekacat at 3:57 PM on January 12, 2009 [3 favorites]


Man, that Isambard Brunel was off the CHAIN! He's got so much bling his middle name was Kingdom!
posted by jeffkramer at 3:59 PM on January 12, 2009




Oh fuck him, those Pipers are awesome.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 4:28 PM on January 12, 2009


This is the second time a hedge fund manager has tried some crazy-ass death faking scheme.
posted by delmoi at 4:47 PM on January 12, 2009


Yes, the photo of the man with all his trophies: plane, car, and wife.

According to this, he's down to the Lexus.
posted by maryh at 4:50 PM on January 12, 2009


Sounds like he's going to *become* a trophy wife.
posted by jamstigator at 4:59 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


So, I finally read the second link, and - he jumped out at 2,000 ft? That's ballsy. Pretty sure they lowest altitude you jump from in a recreational skydiving fashion is 3,000 ft. I wonder if he had any experience, or if he just bought a parachute and hoped he wouldn't freeze up in terror on the way down.

Lesson for the kiddies - don't jump out of a distressed airplane. You're more likely to die than if you ride it down to the ground; breaking your back on the tail of the plane would not be a fun way to spend the last 15 seconds of your life. The exception is if you enter an unrecoverable spin. In this case, exit the airplane and get as far out on the wing as you can (ha!). Then jump to minimize your chances of meeting up with the airplane again.
posted by backseatpilot at 5:11 PM on January 12, 2009


John Grisham is furiously taking notes for his first comedic novel.
posted by zardoz at 5:55 PM on January 12, 2009


John Grisham is furiously taking notes for his first comedic novel.

Tom Wolfe already wrote this.
posted by terranova at 8:24 PM on January 12, 2009


That photo is fantastic. I like how she's got her hand turned uncomfortably forward so you can see her (his) bling ring and watch. I hope they let him put that on his cell wall; it's so romantic.

And I can't miss a chance at linking my favorite Todd Snider D.B. Cooper story song.
posted by doctoryes at 8:58 PM on January 12, 2009


I like how she's got her hand turned uncomfortably forward so you can see her (his) bling ring and watch.

This totally reminds me of a friend of mine. When she got engaged, she hired a professional photographer to take photos of her with her fiance at the spot he had proposed to her while they were hiking or something. They posed on rocks, they posed sitting on fences, you name it. I was surprised at first because her fiance didn't look to be her usual type, he was a bit overweight and balding and she'd always been a bit superficial. But he was a bit secondary in the shots anyhow, as one thing was always purposefully in full view... the big rock on her finger. Looked like she was contorting herself into very awkward positions, letting him hug her and twisting her head around, trying to look natural while she was freezing her smile for the camera and swiveling her ring finger around so it hit the light just so... it was like she was marrying the ring and not the guy.

Ahhhh, people are funny.

That said, last I heard they're still married. Those engagement photos really concerned me when I first saw 'em but seems they've stuck together, which makes me happy.
posted by miss lynnster at 9:53 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


John Grisham is furiously taking notes for his first comedic novel.

Tom Wolfe already wrote this.


Not that we'd expect John Grisham to know that.
posted by kingbenny at 9:56 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


That guy is scum. That airplane could have fallen on anything; he didn't know where or what it was going to hit, and evidently didn't care in the slightest.

If once they get him, he ever breathes fresh air again it'll be a travesty of justice. I think it's provable that he's a flight risk, so he shouldn't even get bail. And that stunt with the plane should be more than enough for him to spend the rest of his life behind bars, irrespective of any "white collar" crimes he also gets convicted of.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 10:26 PM on January 12, 2009 [1 favorite]


Don't judge. As the saying goes, you can't know a man until you've committed his fraud, crashed his Piper Malibu, invented his lie about a "canoeing accident," fled his hotel room, and walked a mile in his shoes.

In the woods. In Alabama.
posted by evidenceofabsence at 11:24 PM on January 12, 2009 [6 favorites]


That said, last I heard they're still married.

You see, Miss Lynnster, some men worship their trophies, and that can worth having.
posted by Goofyy at 12:21 AM on January 13, 2009


It just strikes me that truly wealthy people probably do not take these photos.

Old money tends to prefer pictures of their animals to their consumer goods. Lord Muck with dog, with horse, with prize bull, etc.

They might be worth as much as a Lear Jet, but you'd never know that.
posted by PeterMcDermott at 1:26 AM on January 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


Old money doesn't pose with the props.

That's down to evolution. We kill the ones we ones we can see every time we have a revolution.
posted by srboisvert at 1:54 AM on January 13, 2009 [2 favorites]


The photo of the man with all his trophies: plane, car, and wife.

According to this, he's down to the Lexus.


Oopsie! There goes the Lexus, too.
posted by rokusan at 2:22 AM on January 13, 2009


If the dude had any forethought, he would have left a car near a handy field and parachuted there. Also not made the bogus distress call. Oh, and also would have calculated his remaining fuel a little better so the plane would make it to the Gulf of Mexico - that part would have been hard since the Gulf is so small, you know.
posted by exogenous at 5:22 AM on January 13, 2009


Here's a relatively boring video of the bozo flying under a bridge in the Bahamas.
posted by exogenous at 5:33 AM on January 13, 2009




so he's in custody now? where and how did they find him?
posted by bluefly at 6:32 AM on January 13, 2009


Chocolate Pickle : I think it's provable that he's a flight risk,

Ha! [rimshot]
posted by quin at 7:19 AM on January 13, 2009


Are YOU Doobie Keebler?
posted by Capt Jingo at 8:01 AM on January 13, 2009


In a moment of spiritual weakness, he faltered; he thought he could love her for her inner beauty and overlook the physical deformity. But after that awkward moment at the wedding ceremony, when he hesitated, unable to decide on which of the six fingers he should place the ring, he found his eyes compulsively drawn to the ugnormity of it. He couldn't look at her without seeing it, and the end of her perfect limb. It was a horror, really, it seemed to contain some unspeakable evil, to indicate the presence of some ancient abomination. If only she kept it under the covers when they slept. He couldn't bear to touch it, but when he tried to close his eyes he felt (or imagined?) it coming for him, creeping over the covers, filled with malice and dread. He'd gingerly take the corner of the sheet and try to delicately cover it, but it would twitch, as if aware, and the sheet would fall off. He had stopped being a douchebag for just one moment, and in that moment something had escaped from hell.

In the end, he had no choice.
posted by cytherea at 8:04 AM on January 13, 2009


If the dude had any forethought, he would have left a car near a handy field.

He left a red motorcycle in a nearby storage unit. There's your forethought. Red motorcycle.
posted by collocation at 8:57 AM on January 13, 2009


Yep ... forethought and planning.
Schrenker had apparently parked a red Yamaha motorcycle with packed saddlebags in a storage unit about 7 miles away from Childersburg. By Monday, the motorcycle was gone and Schrenker's still-damp clothes were in the storage unit when investigators got there, Marty Keely, U.S. Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama, told The Birmingham News.

Keely said Schrenker rented the unit on Saturday, paying cash, and told the manager that he would be back for his belongings on Monday.

Meanwhile, in Indiana, Schrenker's neighbor Britt said he received an e-mail Monday night from Schrenker claiming the crash was an accident and saying he wanted the companies under investigation to succeed. Britt believes the e-mail is real, but its authenticity hasn't been verified.

The U.S. Marshals declined to say if they believed the e-mail was authentic. Britt said authorities asked him not to make it public.

Britt quoted Schrenker as saying, "I embarrassed my family for the last time." He turned the e-mail over to authorities, fearing it was a suicide note.

In the e-mail, Schrenker asks Britt to set the record straight and says he was stunned after reading coverage of the case on the Internet. According to the e-mail, the accident was caused when the window on the pilot side imploded, spraying him with glass and reducing cabin pressure.

"Hypoxia can cause people to make terrible decisions and I simply put on my parachute and survival gear and bailed out," the e-mail reads.

U.S. Marshals spokesman Michael Richards in Birmingham declined to detail where agents are looking or how the search is being conducted. But investigators in Florida said Schrenker faces a host of possible charges if he deliberately abandoned the plane.

"You just can't let an unmanned aircraft just maliciously fly into a residential area without facing any consequences," Santa Rosa County Sheriff's Office spokesman Scott Haines said on the CBS "Early Show."
posted by ericb at 9:04 AM on January 13, 2009


Hypoxia can cause people to make terrible decisions

Oh, yes. Hypoxia is a cruel mistress.
posted by Floydd at 9:11 AM on January 13, 2009 [3 favorites]


Hypoxia would be a great name for a high-class dominatrix. The kind Max Mosley would hire.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 9:45 AM on January 13, 2009 [1 favorite]


Bling bling motherfuckers!
posted by Artw at 3:42 PM on January 12 [6 favorites +] [!]


Man I love that photo. To borrow a phrase from Achewood, ol' Kingdom knew what it was about since presidents smoked on TV.

Also, God bless public domain. [shameless self-link]
posted by Uther Bentrazor at 10:17 AM on January 13, 2009


So, it was an unplanned bailout. A total accident. Even though he very obviously planned to escape from this unplanned accident?

I usually leave a getaway vehicle along any travel route, just in case my current mode of transit somehow becomes disabled. Smart planning is all.

what.
posted by ninjew at 10:47 AM on January 13, 2009



Also, that airplane's worth a few million. He should have just sold it and used the proceeds for his legal defense.

Seemingly not true.
posted by quaeler at 12:42 PM on January 13, 2009


Actually the picture shows a turboprop, so it's a Malibu Meridian (or equivalent aftermarket conversion). My mistake in the original posting to link to the piston variant. Still, I suspect the plane was not paid off, and maybe even underwater on loans, what with aircraft prices these days.

Here's the flight track.

The motorcycle would explain why he kept the goggles.
posted by exogenous at 12:57 PM on January 13, 2009


Northern suburbs of Indianapolis represent!
I swear inside I-465 we aren't this dumb.
posted by ChrisHartley at 3:34 PM on January 13, 2009


They got him.

It's going to be interesting to see them sort out jurisdiction, given that at this point the Feds, and the states of Indiana, Alabama, and Florida are all going to want to try him.
posted by Chocolate Pickle at 9:26 PM on January 13, 2009


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