January 14th, 2009
08:31 PM ET

Marcus Schrenker liked to do things in a big way

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/01/14/pilot.investors/art.missing.pilot.atgeist.jpg caption="Marcus Schrenker was taken to a hospital after being found Tuesday near Quincy, Florida, authorities say."]
Program Note: Watch Kathleen's report tonight on AC360° at 10 p.m.

Kathleen Johnston
CNN Special Investigations Unit, Senior Producer

Sometimes the stories you cover come full circle, although i must admit they come no stranger than this one.

I first met Marcus Schrenker right after 9-11. Yes, that's right. I knew Marcus, or rather dealt with him.

I headed up a local television station's investigative team in Indianapolis when my colleague and I got a call from Marcus. He was upset about the lack of security at the Indianapolis International Airport involving private planes.

Schrenker was a commercial and stunt pilot. He offered to show us how easy it was to get on the tarmac right next to planes without security checks. It was the height of 9-11 fear and everyone felt vulnerable about everybody and every open gate.

Our legal team decided we could follow and film him without getting arrested for violating national security or some such stuff.

He pullled it off perfectly and why should we have been surprised: to hear him talk, everything in his life was perfect. Charming, driving an expensive car, flying his own planes, bragging about the money he made in stocks and other financials - as were a lot of folks at the time - a perfect model-like wife. We aired the story, some security changes were made and we moved on to other stories and other careers.

Marcus called my colleague about potential news stories periodically, but offered nothing of substance.

So now I am back in Indianapolis, covering of all people Marcus Schrenker. Only this time there is not a lot to brag about. His model wife has filed for divorce, the state has charged him with fraud, the insurance commissioner is about to sock him with huge fines and revoke his license for defrauding investors, and Marcus has become famous as the guy who allegedly tried to fake his death by crashing a plane in Alabama and then fleeing.

Only this time he did fail–not just at faking his death but also in trying to slit his wrists.

The audacity of the plans officials lay out don't surprise me. Marcus always liked to do things in a big way. The only thing that does surprise me is the real suicide attempt, if true.

You always thought with Marcus that he would always find a way out.

soundoff (6 Responses)
  1. Max


    January 15, 2009 at 9:39 am |
  2. robyn caffrey

    everybody was on to him, he tryed to take the easyway out.

    January 15, 2009 at 1:19 am |
  3. Sharon

    I really don't even care about this man! So why is he getting so much air time? Almost seems like he wanted his 15 minutes of fame!

    I could find better ways to get mine!

    So arrest him, convict him but keep him out of the press I really would prefer to hear about whats going on that conerns my country and my life!

    January 14, 2009 at 11:06 pm |
  4. Annie Kate

    The bigger they are the harder they fall. The attempted suicide was a sad note but if he had really wanted to commit suicide he would have found out how to do it in a foolproof way rather than just slit his wrists. His slit wrists to me just fill out the picture he was wanting to construct in his getaway scheme.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:14 pm |
  5. Ratna, New York, NY

    Dear Kathleen,

    We are all part of the biggest lesson Marcus is learning now: this life on earth is not only given to enjoy, but also to take responsibility for ones own actions. You can't build an honest life based on dishonesty.

    The biggest lesson we are all learning with the fall of the economy: It cleanses us from current frauds and we need to make our future economy more sound-proof and fraud-protected. There is always some type of biggot who likes to rip money off from people, thinking that there is plenty of it, until the plenty-part of it starts to fail.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:03 pm |
  6. Eugenia - San Francisco

    I have 2 family members that attempted suicide, the one who made it knew it was biggest mistake she had ever made in her 20 year old life. It doesn't matter what walk of life you come from, if you get to that point and feel there is no other way out you'll attempt it and hopefully fail.

    January 14, 2009 at 9:02 pm |