Courts & Crime

Kinky sex and voodoo mark murder of Florida businessman

RYE BROOK, N.Y. — This needle-shaped suburb on the outskirts of New York City has had just a handful of homicides since becoming a village in 1982.

But now they have a doozy -- a steamy saga of wealth, privilege, kinky sex games, marital disharmony, family dysfunction and voodoo, shipped straight from the Sunshine State. Not to mention the latest plot twist: The murdered man was having an extramarital affair, multiple law enforcement sources confirm, although no one can say if it had any bearing on his fate.

The victim is Ben Novack Jr., son of the founder of Miami Beach's famed Fontainebleau Hotel and a successful Fort Lauderdale businessman in his own right.

He was found duct-taped and bludgeoned on the morning of July 12 in Suite 452 of the Hilton Rye Brook, where he was overseeing an Amway convention. His wife discovered the body.

As police try to unravel who did what and why, Novack's widow and her daughter have feuded over control of the estate, thought to be worth as much as $10 million, and allegedly engaged in a crowbar-swinging brawl that brought out the Fort Lauderdale police.

It's enough to make a victim spin in his grave, except Novack has yet to be interred. With his money tied up in litigation, Novack's corpse lies unclaimed at the morgue more than a month after his murder.

"This is a complicated case,'' said Rye Brook Police Chief Gregory Austin, leader of 28 sworn officers.

Austin, who refuses to discuss details of the investigation, has launched a Web site,, hoping it will attract tips.

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