Motivational speaker charged in murder at sea
A motivational speaker from Virginia was charged today with murder with special circumstances for allegedly swindling a 71-year-old Arizona man and then luring him out of Dana Point Harbor to his death.
Prosecutors allege that Gary A. Shawkey, 46, of Mechanicsville, Va., duped Robert Vendrick, a retired software programmer from Phoenix, into investing $100,000 in a “top secret computer software” project for the federal government.
Prosecutors say Shawkey killed Vendrick and disposed of the body.
Shawkey portrayed himself as an Internet marketing guru and published a self-help book in 2003 called “If I Can . . . Anybody Can.” He once tried, unsuccessfully, to break a world record by walking across 200 feet of hot coals.
Warrant Issued in Offshore Murder Mystery
“The defendant is accused of convincing (Vendrick) to invest in a new venture involving the development of ‘top secret computer software’ for the federal government. The defendant is accused of convincing the victim to wire $100,000 to a bank account and telling the victim to fly to Orange County to meet with federal agents to finalize the project,” according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
“When the defendant and the victim arrived in Orange County, the defendant is accused of buying a boat and convincing the victim to sail to San Clemente Island to meet with ‘federal agents.’ Shawkey and Vendrick got on the boat and sailed out of Dana Point Harbor, and the victim was never seen again,” according to the Orange County District Attorney’s office.
Investigators say Shawkey faces one count of murder with special circumstances.
Shawkey, who is also a motivational speaker, claims he spent the last year searching for Vendrick from Mexico to Florida.