GHOST OF D.B. COOPER: On The Verge Of Financial Collapse, Man Fakes Death In Spectacular Plane Crash

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NEW YORK TIMES: A financial adviser from Indiana disappeared into the Alabama woods early Monday after faking a distress call and parachuting from a small plane that crashed in Florida. The police in three states were looking for the pilot, identified as Marcus Schrenker, 38. No one was hurt in the crash. According to the police in Santa Rosa County in the Florida Panhandle, where the plane went down, Mr. Schrenker turned up safely about 220 miles north of there. And there is evidence that Mr. Schrenker was an experienced pilot who might have been trying to fake his own death.

His life seemed to be unraveling. Court records show that Mr. Schrenker’s wife filed for divorce on Dec. 30. A db_cooper_front_1.jpgMaryland court recently issued a judgment of more than $500,000 against one of three Indiana companies registered in his name — and all three are being investigated for securities fraud by the Indiana Secretary of State’s Office, a spokesman, Jim Gavin, said.

Mr. Schrenker has at least a decade of experience as a pilot, according to the airport in Anderson, Ind., where he departed Sunday evening. But the police said that within hours of taking off, he issued a distress call. He told air traffic controllers that he was bleeding profusely and that the windshield of his Piper PA-46 turboprop had imploded. The control tower told him to try to land nearby, but instead he “appears to have intentionally abandoned the plane after putting it on autopilot over the Birmingham, Ala., area,” the police in Santa Rosa County said.

He next appeared in Childersburg, Ala., about 30 miles to the southeast, when he approached local officers at a store and said he had been in a canoeing accident. He was wet from the knees down and carried what the police described as “goggles that looked like they were made for ‘flying.’ ” After checking his Indiana license, the officers drove Mr. Schrenker to a hotel. After learning of the abandoned plane, they returned, but his room was empty. Witnesses said a man believed to be Mr. Schrenker wearing a black toboggan cap had run into the woods next to the hotel. He has not been seen since. MORE

WASHINGTON POST: An acquaintance of the Indiana man at the center of a plane crash mystery says he has received an e-mail from the missing pilot saying that the situation is a misunderstanding and that he fears he will soon be dead.

suicide_1.jpgBALTIMORE SUN: In the past month, five major financial players, including two last week, have committed suicide, leaving many who have lost their homes, careers and retirement savings in the recent financial turmoil scratching their heads as they go on living. For people like Adolf Merckle, a German billionaire who jumped in front of a train Monday after losing hundreds of millions of dollars in investments, failure destroys their self-esteem and leads to the demise of their identity, mental health experts said. The same may be true for Chicago real-estate executive Steven L. Good, who shot himself in the head while sitting in his Jaguar Monday a month after he publicly worried over a challenging market. A London investment-fund executive, a French nobleman, and a veteran Bears Stearns Co. manager also recently committed suicide. MORE

CNN: Schrenker also flew an acrobatic plane, and made a video featured on a YouTube site. A message preceding the video warns, “No pilot should attempt this stunt. You will get yourself killed.”

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dbcooper.thumbnail.jpgWIKIPEDIA: D. B. Cooper is the name attributed to a man who hijacked a Boeing 727 aircraft in the United States on November 24, 1971, received US$200,000in ransom, and parachuted from the plane. He was never apprehended. The name he used to board the plane was Dan Cooper, but through a later press miscommunication, he became known as “D. B. Cooper”. Despite hundreds of leads through the years, no conclusive evidence has surfaced regarding Cooper’s true identity or whereabouts, and the bulk of the money has never been recovered. Several theories offer competing explanations of what happened after his famed jump, which the FBI believes he did not survive. MORE

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