Courts & Crime

Mystery letter says Fort Lauderdale police missed woman's murder

Police in Rye Brook, N.Y., want to speak to the writer of an anonymous letter containing details about the July murder of Fort Lauderdale businessman Ben Novack Jr. -- and allegations that his mother, Bernice Novack, was also murdered as part of the plot.

Calling it "the perfect murder,'' the writer claims that while the information was based on rumors, the writer has no doubt that all of it is true, citing religious beliefs and distress about the viciousness of the alleged crimes.

Although skeptical at first, Rye Brook police said Monday that during the course of their investigation they determined that details in the letter are accurate.

"What we found interesting in the letter is there were names in it at the time we were not aware of, and as we did our own investigation, we found that information to be true.''

The letter, written in Spanish, is dated July 20, 2009 -- a week after Ben Novack's murder and three months after his mother's death. Her death was ruled accidental by Fort Lauderdale police and the Broward County medical examiner.

The letter details names of those involved, how the murders were committed and events leading up to the acts.

Rye Brook police would not confirm anything surrounding Bernice Novack's death, citing the fact that Fort Lauderdale police is in charge of the investigation.

``We had reached out to them with information we received and part of that was the letter,'' Rye Brook police Chief Gregory Austin said.

Fort Lauderdale police have said that tips received from Rye Brook police failed to pan out and the case is closed.

The Miami Herald interviewed several witnesses who claim there was suspicious activity around Bernice Novack's home in the months and weeks before her death. At least one witness said they were not interviewed by Fort Lauderdale police.

The mysterious letter writer claims that Bernice Novack was followed for weeks before her death and that the alleged ``assassins'' beat her up so badly that she could not call her son, Ben.

The killers ``in the form most cruel assassinated the defenseless [Bernice Novack] that they had pursued for months, weeks before they pretended like they had scared her through the windows or doors.''

The writer adds that Bernice Novack's killer laughed at Fort Lauderdale police because they didn't realize Bernice was murdered.

Ben Novack Jr., 53 -- son of the founder of the Fontainebleau hotel -- was found slain in his Rye Brook hotel room on July 12. His wife, Narcy, 54, found his body after she returned from breakfast. The couple had been at the hotel to attend anAmway convention they had organized through their business, Convention Concepts, Unlimited.

Police have said that Narcy Novack is a suspect, and that at least one other person was also involved.

Narcy, who still lives in the couple's home on Del Mar Place in Fort Lauderdale, has maintained her innocence.

``It's astonishing to me that the chief of Rye Brook police would give to the press what he considers a crucial piece of evidence in an ongoing investigation,'' said Narcy Novack's lawyer, Howard Tanner.

``It underscores the fact that [the letter] is a worthless document full of rumors and innnuendo.''

But family members -- including her daughter, May Abad -- have said in court documents that they believe she killed her husband to get his multi-million dollar estate. Narcy Novack has accused her daughter of the crime, and Abad has accused her mother.

Bernice Novack, 87, was found face down in her home and died from ``several consecutive falls'' in her Fort Lauderdale home, Broward Medical Examiner Joshua Perper ruled.

She suffered extensive head injuries after she probably experienced dizziness or confusion and fell several times before she died, Perper said.

The autopsy indicated she had a fractured skull, broken jaw, broken teeth and a broken finger. Toxicology tests also showed that she had a small amount of alcohol and prescription medications in her system, Perper said.

At the time of her death, her son questioned a glass of white wine that was sitting on a table at the house, telling police that his mother never drank white wine. He asked police to test it for fingerprints.

In the letter, the writer claims that the killer placed a glass of white wine on the table after killing her.

The only fingerprints on the glass, according to Fort Lauderdale police spokesman Frank Sousa, were Bernice Novack's. There were no fingerprints taken in the house or on her car, he said.

``This case has been reviewed two separate times by us and the medical examiner. The same conclusions have been reached,'' Sousa said.

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