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. Susan

    I am an illusion magi. I know you know what that means.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:13 pm | Report abuse |
  2. brenda

    Lingering way to die, but at least his family knows what happened to him. If someone had murdered him, they would have found a better place to put him–easier at least. If he went there and got stuck, what else could he have been doing than trying to rob the bank? I mean, really, why else?

    July 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Ryan

      I don't think you know what the word 'lingering' means.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      Ryan – linger: a : to remain alive although gradually dying

      July 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      Also: "to pass (as a period of time) slowly"

      July 27, 2011 at 2:28 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Grandpa RD

    1985 Darwin Award runner-up!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
    • Lean6

      Darwin was an idiot and a con man, so if that's what you mean, perhaps that's a deserved award. I just can't figure out why Dirwin has so many groupies.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:32 pm | Report abuse |
    • Reason

      Hey Lean6, if you believe that some INVISIBLE SPACE GHOST created humans then YOU'RE THE lDIOT!!!!!

      July 27, 2011 at 4:47 pm | Report abuse |
  4. rdl_17

    he was in service at one time. how long? did he go to war? did he have pds?

    July 27, 2011 at 2:14 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Susan

    Did you know people can monitor human interaction on the internet to study it for flow?

    July 27, 2011 at 2:15 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Susan

    I am the sand and the rocks.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
  7. rdl_17

    i see a 11:42

    July 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Thank you.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Grandpa RD

    Posts are posted back east, Susan... hence the time stamps. Obviously you are near the east coast while I'm in California.

    DOY!

    July 27, 2011 at 2:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Hi Grandpa. Why are they sorted out of order?

      July 27, 2011 at 2:20 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      And there was a Homer in my ancestry. Thank you for the reference.

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

    I hear everything.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm | Report abuse |
    • rdl_17

      i heard something dont move its coming from the chimmley

      July 27, 2011 at 2:24 pm | Report abuse |
    • Susan

      Excellent Mary Poppins reference. Thank you for mentioning it.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:26 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Stevelb1

    If he was dumb enough to get stuck in the chimney, why do they think he was smart enough to bring a bag to carry loot?

    July 27, 2011 at 2:19 pm | Report abuse |
  11. banasy

    @will:

    That was a *test*?
    LMFAO!!!
    You're cool.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
  12. xxsevensxx

    What I want to know is how a body decomposed in a chimney in Louisiana without anyone smelling it.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:21 pm | Report abuse |
    • OU812IC

      Because most of Louisiana stinks

      July 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      What I want to know is why did you not read the story?

      "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."

      July 27, 2011 at 2:33 pm | Report abuse |
  13. rdl_17

    hiding go seek. who counted to 10?

    July 27, 2011 at 2:22 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Mike Hunt

    If he did die trapped in the chimney, how come no one smelled his decaying remains?

    July 27, 2011 at 2:27 pm | Report abuse |
    • frmrma

      So it appears you did not read the story.
      "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."

      July 27, 2011 at 2:30 pm | Report abuse |
    • Edward

      I'm not sure why no one smelled anything. I've heard of neighbors complaining of odor when someone dies nearby and that's farther than a floor away.

      July 27, 2011 at 2:41 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Susan

    Yep, Santa.

    July 27, 2011 at 2:31 pm | Report abuse |
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