Crazy Love

A brat, a Batman collector, filthy rich and dead. Who killed Miami hotel heir Benji Novack?

A brat, a Batman collector, filthy rich and dead. Who killed Miami hotel heir Benji Novack? Troy Roberts reports.

In the days after Benji Novack's murder, detectives began casting a wider net.

"The investigation would start to expand. We knew that we had to go to Florida," said Det. Sgt. Terry Wilson of the Rye Brook, N.Y., Police Dept.

In Fort Lauderdale, detectives began to piece together Benji's life -- uncovering his complicated connections to several women and their relationships with each other.

"We found a family in turmoil," said Det. Alison Carpentier of Westchester County, N.Y.

There was no love lost between Benji's wife and his mother, Bernice.

Asked what Narcy and Bernice's relationship was like, friend Charlie Serayder said, "From day one, extremely strained."

It was like that up until the day Bernice tragically passed away after a fall, just three months earlier.

"His mom did not like his wife. I mean they really hated each other," said Joe Matthews.

The direct opposite of a very close bond between Bernice and Benji.

"And he would talk to his mother daily. So he -- obviously was a loving son," Det. Carpentier said. "And he stayed very close with his mother up until her death."

Then there was May Abad, Narcy's daughter from a previous marriage.

"May was shipped off to different people throughout her life," Det. Carpentier explained. "She lived with aunts, she lived with friends."

May was just 10 years old when Benji and Narcy got together.

"May and -- and her mother had a pretty stormy mother-daughter relationship," Miami Herald reporter Julie Brown explained.

Brown has written extensively about the Novack murder case and is a consultant for CBS News.

"Having a 10-year-old daughter at the time that she met Ben ... really wasn't very convenient --for Narcy," said Brown.

Over the years, May grew close to Benji, considering him the father she never had. And just after Benji's murder, she became convinced her mother may have played a role in his death.

"She said, 'I -- it's the worst thing in the world to have to believe that your mother might have killed your father ... and she said that she believed that-- that-- that her mother did do it," Brown told Troy Roberts.

"And the motive was?"

"Money. It was money," Brown replied.

Narcy was the sole beneficiary of Benji's estate -- then valued between $5 and $10 million.

"I think Narcy's very smart. She knows how to manipulate people. She will do whatever it takes to get what she needs," said Det. Carpentier.

Just three days after the murder, Narcy and May -- now back in Florida at the Novack's waterfront home -- had an ugly confrontation recorded on surveillance camera.

"May had gone there to collect her things at a guest cottage on the property," Brown explained, "and Narcy took a crowbar and started chasing her around with the crowbar."

"I got a hysterical phone call sometime around 6:00," said Charlie Serayder.

Concerned for May's safety, Serayder raced to Benji's home.

"And when I pulled up -- May and Narcy ... were yelling at each other in the driveway of their home," he continued. "And May was screaming at her, 'You murdered -- Ben." And -- at that point a crowbar came into it. ... they just went at each other. And I split 'em up."

But not before Narcy whacked May with the crowbar.

"You have to go where your evidence leads you," Det. Carpentier explained, "and it just kept leading back to Narcy."

Despite all their suspicions, police didn't have enough hard evidence to charge Narcy. Then, out of the blue 10 days after the murder, investigators received a bombshell anonymous letter that would change everything.

Translated from Spanish, it read in part: "This crime without a doubt was committed by the wife of Mr. Novack and her brother."

Narcy's brother, Cristobal Veliz, was a bus driver in Pennsylvania.

Detectives went to Philadelphia and interviewed him in his apartment. Cristobal denied knowing anything about Benji's murder.

"As we entered ... it's a small kitchen area," Det. Wilson said. "There was a table there, and he invited us to sit down at the table."

Detectives couldn't help but notice what was on that table.

"... it was littered with papers... and part of the papers were Western Union receipts," Det. Wilson said. "We just -- we couldn't believe it."

Cristobal had been wiring money to various people. When he left the room for a moment, detectives made note of some of the payees.

Detective Wilson says one name proved very helpful.

Alejandro Garcia of Miami had been wired $500 by Cristobal just one month after Benji's murder. Detectives wondered if that was payment for the hit on Benji.

"Alejandro only had one eye," Det. Carpentier explained. "A search of the database in Florida led us to Alejandro Garcia."

It turns out Garcia had a record. And with his mug shot in hand, detectives poured over the Rye Brook hotel surveillance tapes from that fateful weekend. Benji is captured by the security camera and they hit pay dirt.

"I had detectives go over and over and over the video at the Hilton," Det. Wilson explained. "You could see it was Alejandro ... The shots on Friday were very clear photos."

You can even see Benji Novack walking by the camera.

Two days before the murder, surveillance cameras show Garcia and another man. Detectives think they are casing the hotel in preparation for Benji's murder.

The other man caught on camera was Joel Gonzalez, also from South Florida. Police believed Narcy's brother, Cristobal, hired the two men to come to New York and kill Benji. Investigators would spend months gathering evidence.

"We did everything from credit card statements -- banking statements," said Det. Wilson.

"Phones became huge in this investigation," said Det. Carpentier.

"Because once we had everybody's phone numbers, we were able to track ... the movement of the phones," said Det. Wilson.

The paper trail led them to a motel in Queens, N.Y., where, according to records, the two men stayed the weekend of the murder.

Four months after the murder, in November 2009, detectives brought in Alejandro Garcia for questioning.

"As we were talking to him, he played stupid ... he's never been in New York, he never left the state of Florida ," said Det. Wilson.

Detective: Have you ever been in New York?

Alejandro Garcia (via interpreter): No.

Detective: Did you stay in this hotel? [Shows card of Cross Bay Motor Inn]

Alejandro Garcia: No.

Detective: We have him on film at this hotel ... we have him on film with Joel going to the other hotel.

Detective: What were you doing there?

Alejandro Garcia: In reality I don't know.

Interpreter: He says, I'd rather have an attorney, too many questions.

"He was unraveling at that point," said Det. Wilson.

But with Detective Carpentier, Garcia would later trip up and implicate himself.

"...and then starts telling me he's scared for his family and that the people that did this are very dangerous," she said.

"We knew we had the right guy, he just confirmed it for us," said Det. Wilson.

Investigators now went after Joel Gonzalez.

"Joel was on the run, but he eventually-- turned himself in to the Miami PD," said Det. Wilson.

Gonzalez was ready to talk.

"Joel gave everything up right then and there," Det. Wilson told Troy Roberts. "And he implicated Narcy, Cristobal, Alejandro."

It wasn't long before Garcia, too, decided to cooperate.

The story they told investigators was shocking. It was Narcy who let them into Benji's bedroom early that terrible July morning while he was sleeping.

"They came up on him, and they positioned themselves on each side of the bed," Det. Wilson explained. "They had these weights ... and they just started hitting the victim. They hit him multiple times, maybe a dozen times or so. He ends up on the floor."

"Ben was duct taped on his legs, his mouth was covered," said Det. Carpentier.

According to the hit men, Narcy was not only just watching the brutal assault -- she was directing it.

"Narcy sends Alejandro back into the bedroom and she wants him to take his eyes out. So he uses something very similar to this," Det. Wilson said, showing Roberts a utility knife.

Asked why, Det. Wilson replied, "You'd have to really ask Narcy why."

Finally, in July 2010, a year after Benji's death, Narcy - along with her brother, Cristobal -- are arrested in connection with Benji's murder.

But Narcy would soon find herself facing not one -- but two murder charges.