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.

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Filed under: Crime • Louisiana
soundoff (410 Responses)
  1. donny

    after the bank money i would think or maybe it was santa?

    July 27, 2011 at 5:34 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Oh, I get it. You are children. Unfortunately, some grown ups here won't understand you are children and they will attempt to do some very mean reflective studies with you that may be confusing. I wish your parents were monitoring your internet use.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:38 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Thinker

      Say, maybe you're right... nobody ever saw Schexnider and Santa together at the same time.

      July 27, 2011 at 5:58 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Hello, A Thinker. You're right, they never were together. Maybe in the same room.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Hasselhoff

      The only thing confusing here is Susan's post. Time to go back to school Susan and learn english.

      July 27, 2011 at 7:12 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Rob

    There are a lot of dumb criminals in this world...
    This is one less of them.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:49 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Big Paddy Bonner

    What did he die from; the flue?

    July 27, 2011 at 5:50 pm | Report abuse |
    • The Thinker


      July 27, 2011 at 6:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Martini

      Oh no you didn't. Shame on us....you for writing it, me for laughing.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:01 pm | Report abuse |
    • Whatever

      If it was me, it would be embarrassment.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • the 2chefs

      good story for the next Darwn Awards

      July 27, 2011 at 7:04 pm | Report abuse |
  4. Susan

    Just here to ascertain the state of events and help you create a wrinkle in time. See you at the next jump.

    July 27, 2011 at 5:52 pm | Report abuse |
    • Kristal

      THE FLU SUSAN was good but this guy did not kill any1 plus he has loved 1'sssssssss so

      July 27, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Susan

    Exactly my point. Thank you for giving an example.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:04 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Will O

    Susan are you referring to "Replay?"

    July 27, 2011 at 6:09 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Thank you for your question. I was referring to the "farthum – how about you stop posting spam?" comment that keeps appearing on my screen at strange places.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:11 pm | Report abuse |
  7. FU

    Hahaha...stupid criminal...

    July 27, 2011 at 6:12 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Smokehouse BBQ

    That explains the smell lying over Abbeville that odd week back in 1984, when there was a spike in vistors to the local BBQ spots.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:14 pm | Report abuse |
  9. cacalips

    Susan's gotta be a 200 lb failblogger.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      See kids. Cruel reflective studies.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Army Saint

    But he was a soldier, who can never do anything wrong.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:28 pm | Report abuse |
  11. newfilter

    My friend just had a dead bat in her chimney, and it smelled horrible. I'm sure a \ person would be worse. Didn't anyone notice the smell and have it checked out?

    July 27, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Report abuse |
    • PentecostalTexan

      Yeah, thats what I wondered! Why nobody could smell a dead body. Decaying flesh has a pretty strong, unmistakable, scent and you'd think somebody would take notice.

      July 27, 2011 at 6:56 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Susan

    Looks like you put it back, huh. Go A team...Go A team...Go A team

    July 27, 2011 at 6:34 pm | Report abuse |
  13. MCC

    By shear definition, half the population has a below average IQ. That seems to be true for the hero of this story and many of the posters.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Susan

    And there you go again, changing what I wrote in my comment again. Well, understanding how computers and networks work it is plausible that you are using man in the middle technology. So, whether I blame this on CNN or someone sitting out on the internet, harrassing people...maybe you should know...I've been here before.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:39 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Susan

    And, given the behavior of different approaches to refreshing this screen, I'm leaning towards man-in-the-middle right now.

    July 27, 2011 at 6:40 pm | Report abuse |
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