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. JJ

    Darwin was definitely active in the 1980's too! 🙂

    July 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Hummility

    Dumb azz.....

    July 27, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Al

    My only question with this story is how did no one smell the body decomposing? Wouldn't it be so strong? Thoughts?

    July 27, 2011 at 1:26 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      Al, that is a darn good question any rancher with a ranch of decent sized with too many ranges to check on a daily basis, deals with decomp and it's odor pungent, sweet and nauseating. He did vanish in January with the coal probably burning, but that wouldn't account for why it was just a skeleton and not one with smoked flesh still attached.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:36 pm | Report abuse |
    • SmellsLikeAss

      It's Louisiana.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Report abuse |
    • HaHa

      No thoughts here...but I do know that I am going to have some ham for lunch now!

      July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jonboy

      Have you ever smelled Louisiana?

      July 27, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Report abuse |
    • Larry

      @HAHA. Is that going to be cooked ham or smoked ham?

      July 27, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Report abuse |
    • HaHa

      Smoked of course!

      July 27, 2011 at 1:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • malasangre

      my thought was that their must of been some ventilation space around the body that allowed quick mummifacation especially being a chimney he was smoked like a herring. he dissappeared in January so it was going all the time?

      July 27, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Report abuse |
  4. blue

    Ho ho ho!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mark L.

    Based off the comment, "In fact at one time, he joined the circus and traveled around with them until they left the country," my only guess is maybe he was in training to become the next Santa Claus...LMAO...

    July 27, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Spaceman

    Playing Santa Clause ?

    July 27, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Report abuse |
  7. robert

    he was playing santa clause

    July 27, 2011 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Prospero

    artiicle doesn't mentiion military service, but pic is obviously military ( looks lke army)

    July 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • rdl_17

      yea looks like army wonder if he did over seas.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  9. HaHa

    He was making his last deposit! And you can take that to the bank!

    July 27, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Report abuse |
  10. I know what happened

    He was planning on sleighjacking Santa Claus.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  11. none

    i think we all need to keep in mind that during or short pathetic stint on this planet we will all leave either things OR ourselves behind OR both – how and when we will do it will be unknown until it happends.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Report abuse |
  12. none

    I feel bad for this man – ther was no reason for this to happen to him – this is horrible.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • Fred Evil

      It sounds like he died trying to rob the bank, and doing a poor job of it. Sounds like he got what he deserved to me.

      July 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  13. billy s

    This is nothing new. People have been chimming for much longer than you would expect. Everyone thinks that "planking" and chimming" are new crazes that were just invented but in reality they've been occuring for centuries. It's possible that something malicious happened to this guy, but it's more likely that he was just chimming.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  14. rubes bjorkman

    he thought he was santa claus. haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa

    July 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
  15. billy s

    This is nothing new. People have been chimming for much longer than you would expect. Everyone thinks that "planking" and chimming" are new crazes that were just invented but in reality they've been occuring for centuries. It's possible that something malicious happened to this guy, but it's more likely that he was just chimming.

    July 27, 2011 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
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