MIAMI (CBS4) – “I walked in and I tripped on something and I realized he was on the floor. He did not look like Ben. Ben would not be on the floor. Something was not right.”
In eight hours of never before seen video obtained by CBS4 News, Narcy Novack discussed the moment she literally stumbled over her husband’s bloody corpse.
Ben Novack, Jr. was the son of Miami Beach royalty. His father owned the famed Fontainebleau Hotel. His mother was a famous New York model.
Ben grew up surrounded by presidents and kings who visited the Miami Beach icon, but by the time he turned 21, the Novack reign over the Fontainebleau had already ended with the family selling the landmark to the Hilton hotel chain.
And in the three decades that followed, Ben would develop his own multi-million dollar business, he never escaped the long shadow of his father’s famous hotel.
“He was like my child in a lot of ways, because he was naive in a lot of ways,” Narcy told detectives. “He was born with a silver spoon in his mouth. He didn’t have friends to play with because he was raised in a hotel – he was born in a hotel.”
Before meeting Ben Novack in the Eighties, Ecuadorian-born Narcisa “Narcy” Veliz was a Hialeah stripper who danced at the now defunct Follies International. By all accounts, their 18-year marriage was a strange and violent affair.
“He used handcuffs,” Narcy told detectives. “And he liked rough stuff.”
And so in July 2009 when Narcy claimed to have discovered Ben’s body in Room 453 of the Hilton Hotel in Rye Brook New York – investigators had their share of questions.
“Somebody did a serious number on him,” Westchester County Police Detective Alison Carpenter tells Novack. Somebody hurt him bad.
Hands and legs bound with duct tape, the 53-year-old Novack – known as Benjie to his friends – was bludgeoned to death with dumbbells. His eyes were slit with a knife. Crime scene photos capture the bloody mess. While the video reveals Narcy’s hazy memory.
“I don’t remember any blood,” Narcy says. “Blood is red. You can see it. I don’t remember anything.”
It would be another year before Narcy Novack would be charged in her husband’s death. But her interview with detectives provides an early insight into what investigators were thinking in the hours after Ben’s murder.
Narcy Novack met with detectives the day after the murder. The interview started just before 6 pm and would last until nearly 2 a.m.
The video provides a fascinating glimpse into police interview techniques. Five different detectives and investigators take turns questioning Narcy inside a small conference room at a Westchester County police station. Novack doesn’t know the conversations are being recorded – and several times detectives in the room tell her that what she tells them will go no further and that no one will know what she says.
Novack spoke to the detectives without an attorney. On numerous occasions she said she knew she was free to leave and that she even might be considered a suspect.
She said she was talking because she wanted to help police find her husband’s killer.
“I’m really fragile right now,” Narcy tells Edward Murphy, an investigator with the Westchester County District Attorney’s Office.
“I understand,” Murphy says reassuringly.
“I don’t know who to trust,” Narcy adds.
At various points in the night Narcy grows tired and places her head down on the table. But just as quickly she could become irate with detectives for asking so many prying questions.
“I don’t need you or anybody else to yell at me, to put pressure on me,” she shouts at one detective who accuses her of having a selective memory. “I can not take it. If everything falls on me, just take me to the electrical chair because I can not take it anymore.”
The marathon interview not only offers new details in Ben Novack’s death, it also provides an uncomfortable view into his life.
And while investigators may not have accepted many of Narcy’s statements, she did say one thing they all would agree upon.
“Only a monster can do this kind of evil thing,” she said.
The last day of Ben Novack’s life, according to his wife, began with a kiss.
“I was leaving and he realized I was leaving without giving him a kiss. And we don’t do that,” Narcy explained.
Ben Novack had created a successful event planning company that was managing an Amway convention inside the Westchester County hotel. Narcy said she was heading downstairs to see if the 1,900 direct mail aficionados were being served breakfast on time.
“He said come on and give me a besitos,” she recalled. “So I kissed him and left.”
She said she was gone no more than 30 or 40 minutes. Hotel surveillance video shows Narcy just before she returned to the room and found Ben’s corpse.
“I just wanted to kill myself,” she declared. She even described a moment when she tried to grab a police officer’s gun so she could shoot herself. Luckily, she said, the officer stopped her.
Narcy initially had her own theory about who might have killed her husband. She wondered if it was a comic book collector who knew Ben often carried large sums of money to purchase comic books himself. She made her disdain plain for comic book fanatics.
“I happen not to like those types of individuals,” she said. “They always give me the creeps.”
She could have just as easily been talking about her husband. A fanatical collector of Batman memorabilia, including his very own Bat-mobile, Ben Novack had filled their Fort Lauderdale home with Caped Crusader collectibles. She said she was embarrassed by her husband’s obsession – and could no longer invite people over to their home.
Detectives seemed skeptical Novack’s murder was related to the Dark Knight. They were more struck by Narcy’s demeanor.
“I’m amazed your not mad,” Detective Carpentier.
Two hours into the interview, detectives asked Narcy about a 2002 report from Florida regarding a home invasion in which Ben Novack was handcuffed to a chair, assaulted and robbed. At the time, Narcy was suspected of engineering the crime, but Ben refused to press charges.
“I took my stuff, I have the right to leave the house,” Narcy said defiantly. “I’m not his prisoner. I’m not his sex slave. I was fed up.”
She admitted to handcuffing him to the chair in 2002. “He used to like to be tied up,” she said.
She said she left him in 2002 because he cheated on her and had begun to develop dark sexual habits. At times Narcy seemed reluctant to talk about her husband’s sexual proclivities. But the detectives prodded her along.
“This is my husband we’re talking about and I don’t want you to look at him as a pervert,” Narcy says.
“No, no, we don’t,” detective Carpentier says. “We’re not looking at him as a pervert.”
“I’m not looking at him as a pervert,” Murphy agrees. “We’re not taking any of this personally. Everybody has their own lives.”
“But I shouldn’t be saying this, this is a betrayal,” Narcy counters.
“It’s not a betrayal,” Carpentier assures her, “because we need to find out what happened in that room and we need to know everything about him.”
The detectives wonder if maybe Narcy and Ben were playing their old sex games – and Narcy tied Ben up and somehow something went terribly wrong.
“He dies in a position he finds sexually arousing, that’s why we are asking about the sex part of it,” Carpentier says.
Ultimately, though, the detectives would move away from sex and begin honing in on Narcy’s version of events that fateful morning.
Narcy grows frustrated and by the suggestions being made by detectives and challenges one of them to just ask the question that is on her mind.
“You want me to ask you straight out?” Carpentier asks. “Did you have any involvement in your husband’s death?”
“No,” Narcy said flatly.
In one telling moment, Murphy, an investigator with the District Attorney’s Office, tells Narcy they have a witness that claims to have seen two men go into the hotel room and a woman leave the room a few minutes later.
“That woman has to be you,” Murphy tells her.
“Beats me,” Narcy says with a shrug.