Why was skeleton in chimney of Louisiana bank?
Joseph W. Schexnider, in an undated photo, disappeared in 1984. His remains were found in a bank chimney in May.
July 27th, 2011
09:41 AM ET

Why was skeleton in chimney of Louisiana bank?

Skeletal remains found in the chimney of an Abbeville, Louisiana, bank two months ago have been identified as those of a local man who hadn't been seen in 27 years.

The remains are those of Joseph W. Schexnider, who vanished at age 22 in January 1984, Abbeville police said. His disappearance was noted after he failed to show up for a court hearing on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle, according to a report from CNN affiliate WAFB-TV in Baton Rouge. When Vermilion Parish sheriff's deputies showed up at his home to take him in to custody, Schexnider's mother said he had fled to avoid arrest.

The remains were discovered in May when construction workers were doing renovations on the Bank of Abbeville, WAFB reported. Tests by the Louisiana State University Forensic Anthropology and Computer Enhancement Services Laboratory established the remains were those of Schexnider, who would be 49 years old now. Authorities say he likely died of dehydration and starvation, reported CNN affiliate KATC-TV in Arcadia-Lafayette.

What remains a mystery is why Schexnider was in the chimney.

Abbeville Police Detective Lt. David Hardy told KATC that Schexnider had gloves and a cigarette lighter on him, but no bag or anything to indicate he planned to carry loot from the bank. And Hardy told the TV station there was nothing to indicate that Schexnider was killed and his body dumped in the chimney.

"There's no signs of foul play in this investigation, so as of now it's going to be a closed case," KATC quotes Hardy as saying.

Hardy told The Advertiser newspaper that if Schexnider had planned a burglary, the chimney was not the way into the historic southwestern Louisiana bank.

"There was no wide-open fireplace at the bottom," The Advertiser quoted Hardy as saying. "It wasn't like a wood-burning fireplace - there was no opening, no large space at the bottom. It wasn't a traditional fireplace - maybe more like something that would burn coal."

And the chimney didn't even open to the bank's main floor, but rather office space on the second floor that had been used for storage for many years, Hardy told CNN.

And how could Schexnider have been missing for nearly three decades in the main branch of a bank which sits right on the main square in the town of 25,000 people?

"His family said he had a history of leaving ... and spending a lot of time away from Abbeville. In fact at one time, he joined the circus and traveled around with them until they left the country," Hardy told KATC.

Relatives are planning a funeral when remains are returned from the LSU lab, police told KATC. In the meantime, they were not commenting.

"His mother is upset that she lost a son, of course, but she is at ease that she now knows where her son is," KATC quotes Hardy as saying.

Post by:
Filed under: Crime • Louisiana
soundoff (410 Responses)
  1. pam

    here is more proof that military intelligence is an oyxmoron

    July 27, 2011 at 4:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • BAS

      I've met some of the best, brightest and most virtuous people in my time in the service, but there are bad apples too. It's a microcosm of the population at large.

      July 27, 2011 at 4:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • SophieCat

      Oh my god I LOVE that. Can I use that? Oxymoron. "Military Intelligence">

      July 27, 2011 at 5:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      He's trying to say they are practicing their artificial military intelligence on us and it is falling apart before their very eyes.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:27 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Freshies

    If he was stuck in the chimney you would think he would be yelling and screaming for help, people in the bank would have heard him...you wouldn't think he would die overnight although it is possible I guess.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • luke worm

      maybe it was 3 day weekend, or a snow storm. Heck for the first time I see a black santa claus

      July 27, 2011 at 5:10 pm | Report abuse |
    • KP

      a snow storm in abbyville? stupid yankee

      July 27, 2011 at 5:32 pm | Report abuse |
  3. unicorns4every1

    What an idiot

    July 27, 2011 at 4:46 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Bob

    Too bad it wasn't a house. Santa would have found him!

    July 27, 2011 at 4:48 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Is this your job? Are you artificial intelligence?

      July 27, 2011 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Reason

    q) What was Joseph W. Schexnider's last words?
    a) Mmmmmf! Mmmmmf!

    July 27, 2011 at 4:49 pm | Report abuse |
  6. drkshades

    and now retired bank employee, Mr Rodney C. Itchncrotch, was quoted as saying upon hearing the news " I sat in the office next to the chimneyfor 27 @$#@@ing years, and nobody would believe me when i kept saying "this place stinks"...end quote.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:50 pm | Report abuse |
  7. lou50

    get over it, the laws of nature says everyone has to be some place.

    July 27, 2011 at 4:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Are you a real person?

      July 27, 2011 at 5:14 pm | Report abuse |

    He had committed crimes Possession of Stolen Vehicle and Failed to appear for court and even he mom knew it because she said he fled to avoid arrest. Then he was found dead in chimney of bank. Of course he wanted to rob it to fund his "now on the run" lifestyle. No. he wasn't smart enough to know it wasn't going to work, or else he wouldn't have been stupid enough to rob the bank, and stupid enough to be in possession of a stolen car and stupid enough to skip out on going to court, and stupid enough to destroy a possible career(see photo) in the military he could have had, but must of all he was stupid enough to break his mother's heart because for 27 years she probably imagined him living on the lam, never knowing that the reason he never snuck her a phone call on mother's day was because he was dead. The dawning of that realization–where she thought and dreamed he might be and where he has been, not turning his life around, but dying committing another crime. (there are money bags in banks, he didn't need to bring one).

    July 27, 2011 at 5:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lulu

      I was wondering about those obvious flaws in logic, too. How would he have known the chimney went to a non-traditional fireplace ? Was it marked in such a way that he'd know there was not outlet at the bottom ? Even if he was drunk/high going in ? Why carry your own bag in when it's likely you'll find something in the bank to serve as a tote – and you're on the run ? If he had gloves on, would that not indicate that either it was hecka cold when he went in (likely died of exposure before starvation), or that he thought far enough ahead to try to avoid leaving fingerprints ?

      His mom knew something was up. Surely he'd have called if he was still alive.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:47 pm | Report abuse |
  9. SoulTrain1943

    Ask Angela Lansbury.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:17 pm | Report abuse |
  10. mellow replies

    The guy simply went to rob the bank, got stuck in the chimney and died. He probably could neither go down, nor go up.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Susan

    Don't you all get tired of hearing the same old BS all the time?

    July 27, 2011 at 5:25 pm | Report abuse |
  12. muffdiver

    Classic for a butt private!!!!!!!

    July 27, 2011 at 5:26 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Susan

    CNN...Duh...CIA News Network

    July 27, 2011 at 5:28 pm | Report abuse |
  14. sms29s66

    There is no way that there was a snow storm in Abbeville which is within spitting distance of the Gulf of Mexico.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:29 pm | Report abuse |
  15. rtbrno65

    I think that he somehow gained the ability to see into the future and when he did he saw a drunken, naked Matthew McConaughey playing the conga drums and decided he never wanted to see anything again so he moved into the chimney.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Now this one's got style.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:56 pm | Report abuse |
1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15