The Murder of Ben Novack Jr.: Death of Wealthy Florida Businessman Reveals Bizarre Family Life

Ben Novack Jr.Courtesy Rye Brook Police DepartmentHandout
Ben Novack Jr.

The discovery of the body of a wealthy Florida businessman and hotel heir has turned out to be only the beginning of what has become a multi-state investigation involving reports of kinky sex, catfights and Batman comic books.

Ben Novack Jr. was found bludgeoned to death last month in Room 453 of the Hilton Rye Brook Hotel in Rye Brook, N.Y., where he had organized a weekend convention for Amway, the direct-selling company.

Novack, 53, who owned Convention Concepts Unlimited of Fort Lauderdale, a planning company, was the son of the hotelier behind Miami Beach's posh Fontainebleau Resorts Hotel.

According to a search warrant, his wife, Narcy Novack, 52, told police that she had left the hotel room they shared around 7 a.m. July 12, but returned 40 minutes later after eating breakfast to find her husband face down, covered in blood, his hands and legs bound by duct tape.

His hands, according to the warrant, which was for Novack's Fort Lauderdale home and was executed by the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, were taped behind his back and his legs were bound just below the knees. Though several expensive pieces of jewelry remained in the hotel room, a gold bracelet with the letters "B-E-N" spelled out in diamonds seemed to be missing, according to the Rye Brook police.

What followed was not only an investigation that detailed possible deception by Narcy Novack during polygraph tests, but reports of an unorthodox family life.

Two days after Novack's murder, Fort Lauderdale police were called to the Novack's posh Fort Lauderdale home after an altercation between Narcy Novack and her daughter, May Abad, who was living in the house's unattached cottage.

Fort Lauderdale Police Sgt. Patrick Hart told that a report was not filed and that he did not have any details on what sparked the fight, saying only that "it was a simple disturbance ... and the stepdaughter agreed to pack up her stuff and leave."

But the Miami Herald reported that Abad has since challenged Novack's will, which left everything to Narcy Novack. She told the Herald that the fight on July 14 involved her and a niece getting into a slap fight and Narcy Novack hitting her with a crowbar.

When reached by in Florida, Abad said she was no longer speaking about the entire saga. "I spoke to one and that was it," she said, referring to the Herald's story.

Narcy Novack's lawyer Howard Tanner did not return voicemail or e-mail messages seeking comment but has said previously that his client was not involved in her husband's murder and that she has been cooperative with police.

Police Point to Polygraph for Ben Novack's Wife

The Herald reported that Abad said her stepfather was having an affair, even setting the younger woman up with a place to live, and that Narcy Novack was jealous of the other woman.

Abad also told the Herald that after the murder Narcy Novack "flunked" a polygraph test in New York five times.

While the search warrant doesn't go that far, it noted that Narcy Novack was given a polygraph test by New York State Police the day after her husband's murder and the results "showed indications of deception when questioned pertaining to her knowledge of this homicide."

The search warrant also noted that hotel officials had determined that no keys were used to enter the hotel room between the time Narcy Novack left for breakfast and the time she returned.

Compounding the family feud is the battle over Novack's body. Donna Greene, communications director for Westchester County, said Novack has been kept "on ice, literally and figuratively" since his death, with both Narcy Novack and Abad laying claim to the body.

Greene said Novack's wife and her lawyer "said not to do anything with the body."

Abad, she said, has requested to have the body released into her custody, but because Narcy Novack is next of kin, the county morgue will wait for her instructions before releasing the body to anyone.

The search warrant, signed by a Broward County judge July 16 and executed the same day by an agent with the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, was for not only the main residence on the Novacks' property, but the cottage in which Abad was known to stay.

Police, according to the warrant, took several pieces of computer and digital-recording devices as well as paperwork left near the computer, a phone book and day planner, 8 mm video cassette tapes, a Beta tape and five rolls of duct tape found in the garage.

The warrant indicates that computers and hard drives were also taken from an office in the unattached building.

What doesn't appear to be taken is evidence related to a possible motive Narcy Novack told New York police she suspected was behind the killing -- that her husband was murdered in the wake of a contentious comic book sale.

According to the search warrant, Narcy Novack told police that her husband was "a hard person, a strong businessman and has a tendency to make people angry." She also indicated that her husband had enemies.

Murdered Man Reportedly Had History of Kinky Sex, Enthusiasm for Batman

Narcy Novack told police, according to the warrant, that her husband had recently agreed to buy a comic book for $43,000 and, about three weeks before his death, had gotten into an argument with a collector who then showed up at their house to negotiate the deal.

There was a disagreement, according to the warrant, and "Narcy told investigators that she retrieved a 'bag' of cash and provided the money to her husband who in turn gave it to the unknown comic book collector who left the house with the cash."

Among the items listed as potential evidence in the warrant, but apparently not seized, were "any miscellaneous business records of Ben H. Novack Jr. related to 'collectibles' including but not limited to comic books and/or Batman memorabilia."

Narcy Novack was said to be at least somewhat involved in her husband's business affairs, although Abad told the Miami Herald it was she, not her mother, who helped run Convention Concepts Unlimited.

In addition to Novack's supposed affair, the couple were said to have engaged in some otherwise unorthodox marital activities.

According to the search warrant, Fort Lauderdale police were called to the couple's home in June 2002 after Novack said he was the victim of a home invasion and robbery. Novack implicated his wife in planning the home invasion and working with unknown men to disable the alarm system, according to the warrant.

Yet no one was ever charged in the incident. An 18-page police report filed days after the incident detailed a marriage with a history of alleged violence and steamy secrets, according to The Associated Press. The report detailed how the alleged home invasion was part of a sex game.

The report, according to the AP, also included other bizarre details about the Novacks, including Ben Novack's supposed collection of pornography featuring amputees. The AP said the report also references an incident in which Narcy Novack claimed she was taken to a plastic surgeon to repair her nose, which Ben Novack allegedly broke, and woke up with breast implants she hadn't requested.

The report also included police officers' doubts about the Novacks' credibility.

As police on both ends of the Eastern seaboard continue their investigation, the Rye Brook Police Department -- small, with just 28 officers -- has set up a Web site they hope will generate tips.

To report information about the murder of Robert Novack Jr., CLICK HERE.