Indiana pilot to appear in federal court

Published 11:25 am Friday, June 5, 2009

The Indiana pilot who authorities believe tried to fake his death by parachuting from his plane over Shelby County in January will appear in federal court in Florida today.

Marcus Schrenker, 38, will appear before a U.S. district judge for a tentative change of plea hearing, according to the U.S. attorney’s office in Pensacola. Schrenker had previously pleaded not guilty to charges of faking a distress call and purposely crashing a plane.

Schrenker is set to go on trial Monday.

Schrenker has been jailed in Florida since Jan. 13, when authorities found him at a Tallahassee-area campsite with his wrists slit. Authorities believe Schrenker tried to fake his death to avoid mounting legal and personal troubles.

Schrenker, a financial adviser, was charged in Hamilton County, Ind. Superior Court in January with unlawful acts by a compensated adviser and unlawful transaction by an investment adviser. He was also ordered to pay $533,000 in a federal judgment. During that time, Schrenker’s wife, Michelle, filed for divorce, and his stepfather died.

Authorities say Schrenker meticulously planned his escape, driving to Harpersville from Indiana to store a motorcycle and supplies at the U.S. 280 East Mini Warehouse. He then returned to Indiana to pilot a flight to Destin, Fla.

A Federal Aviation Administration spokeswoman in Atlanta said Schrenker made a distress call to air traffic comptrollers in Hampton, Ga. Jan. 11 before parachuting out of his plane over Harpersville.

The plane crashed later that day near Milton, Fla. in Santa Rosa County.

Following his capture, Schrenker underwent a mental evaluation, and was deemed competent to stand trial.