Missing exec’s body found in river, police say
The body of a missing energy executive was pulled from the Mississippi River in New Orleans, Louisiana, on Tuesday, four days after he disappeared, a police spokesman said.
Police had said Tuesday morning they believed Douglas Schantz, president of Sequent Energy Management, had fallen into the river.
They recovered his body hours later, according to New Orleans police spokesman Gary Flot.
Schantz, 54, was last seen at 2:06 a.m. Friday outside a Bourbon Street bar, New Orleans police Superintendent Warren Riley told reporters Tuesday morning. No one had heard from him since then.
Riley said then that detectives had reviewed video from “almost every” business in the busy French Quarter. Several cameras captured a “disoriented” Schantz walking alone from a bar toward the Mississippi River, Riley said. Schantz had been drinking, Riley said, and was headed toward a boat at the wharf.
“The last video of Mr. Schantz is when he was near the boat Natchez, walking on a 2- to 3-foot-wide walkway near the river,” Riley said. “From 2:40 until 6:40 a.m., video was watched and Mr. Schantz was never — once he walked out of that frame near the Natchez, he never returned on any frames of the video.”
Riley said according to the video footage, no one ever approached Schantz during the walk.
Texas Equusearch, a search-and-rescue team, used sonar equipment to look for the body, and the U.S. Coast Guard and Harbor Police also had joined the search, according to Riley.
Family and friends said they knew something was wrong Friday morning when Schantz didn’t show up at the airport, missed a company meeting and didn’t return calls. Such behavior was uncharacteristic of him, they said.
“There’s never been a time he was out of reach,” said Pete Tumminello, vice president of Houston, Texas-based Sequent Energy, on Monday. “I’ve worked with him for seven years.”
Schantz missed a flight Friday morning with his daughter, a Tulane University senior, police said. He also did not show up for an office meeting in Houston.
He went to the French Quarter with a group after an event at Tulane, Sequent Energy spokesman Alan Chapple said Tuesday.
Employees of the natural gas company had gone to the New Orleans school to present a $25,000 donation to the Tulane Energy Institute on Thursday, Chapple said.
Schantz and his colleagues had dinner with professors and students at Tulane, and later he and some others went to a bar.
Schantz was staying at the Royal Sonesta Hotel, about two blocks from the bar, and left the bar alone, Chapple said. Members of the party had left the establishment at varying times, he said.
Police said earlier Tuesday they had not discovered any evidence of a crime, according to Flot, the New Orleans police spokesman. The FBI, U.S. Marshals Service and private investigators were also working on the case, Riley said.
Schantz’s son, Michael, on Monday described his family’s agony while awaiting news.
“My family is distraught; I’m distraught, [in] shock,” he said. “We just want him found alive and back with our family.”