Published Sept. 24, 2020
A Joint Base Lewis-McChord soldier concocted and partially carried out a scheme to fake his own death with the intention of traveling to Mexico to take on drug cartels as a freelance gun for hire.
According to reports, Devin M. Schmidt, 20, filmed a suicide farewell video at a state park along the Puget Sound. He then sent a distress message to the Coast Guard. One of Schmidt's buddies was in on the scheme and conveniently found his dog tags and phone on a 150-foot cliff above the Puget Sound.
The Coast Guard executed a 10-hour $172,000 search and rescue operation in extremely unsafe weather conditions. Schmidt spent that night in a porta-potty at a park-and-ride.
It was actually Schmidt's mother who reported her suspicions to the police, as Schmidt's farewell suicide video was recorded several hours after his coconspirator buddy raised the alarm of the supposedly missing man.
Based on the mother's suspicions, police turned their investigation towards Schmidt's friends, one of which reported that he was aware of a Facebook message that was sent from a fake account created by Schmidt to meet with some of his friends.
Police set up a sting at the meeting spot, a McDonald's parking lot, and when Schmidt arrived, they arrested him. He never got to fight the drug cartels.
Schmidt narrowly avoided a UCMJ courts martial by agreeing to an other-than-honorable discharge from the Army as a private. However, he faces more consequences as he was just charged in federal court Wednesday for sending a false distress message to the Coast Guard.
The following video shows Coast Guard search and rescue crews conducting a cliff rescue training exercise.
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