Fla. suspect: I tripped over husband's dead body

January 19, 2012 - 5:35 PM
Hotel Heir Killing

FILE - In this July 8, 2010 file photo released by the Broward County Sheriff's Office, Narcy Novack is shown. In transcripts of Novack’s recorded interviews files by federal prosecutors in White Plains, N.Y., on Thursday, Jan. 19, 2012, Novack claims she knew nothing about her millionaire husband’s murder until she tripped over his body in a New York hotel room. (AP Photo/Broward Sheriff's Office, File)

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. (AP) — A Florida woman accused of arranging the murder of her millionaire husband told police she knew nothing of his killing until she tripped over his body as she entered their New York hotel room.

In transcripts filed by federal prosecutors, Narcy Novack also said that the last time she saw her husband alive, he wanted a "cuddle," but she didn't have time for sex.

"I gave him a kiss and I left," she said. Prosecutors say that's actually when she opened the door to two hired killers.

Novack's husband was Ben Novack Jr., 53, whose father built the famous Fontainebleau hotel in Miami Beach. Prosecutors say Narcy Novack had her husband killed in 2009 to secure his $10 million estate for herself.

Novack, of Fort Lauderdale, is also accused of arranging the Florida killing of her mother-in-law, Bernice Novack, a few months earlier. Bernice Novack's death added to Ben Novack's share of the estate.

Narcy Novack's brother, Cristobal Veliz, 57, of Brooklyn, is a co-defendant in both killings. Their trial is scheduled for April. At least two other people have been arrested.

The indictment says Novack let her husband's killers into their suite at the Hilton in Rye Brook, gave them a pillow to put over her husband's face and ordered them to gouge out his eyes as they beat him to death.

She has pleaded not guilty to charges including murder in aid of racketeering, which carries an automatic life sentence.

In the transcripts, which were made from recorded police questioning in the three days after the killing, Novack told police, "Only a monster can do this kind of evil thing."

She also said, "I should have been there, and I wish I got killed with him." When asked if her husband made her happy, she said, "Oh, yeah."

The 54-year-old Novack said she called her husband's name as she entered their suite after breakfast on July 12, 2009. His company had organized an Amway convention at the hotel in the New York City suburbs.

"He didn't answer so I thought he was sleep," the transcript says. "I walked in ... and I trip on something... and I realize that he was on the floor and then, it did not look like Ben."

"Something told me that something was not right and I don't know if I got on the phone, I was screaming on the phone," Novack said, according to the transcripts.

Westchester County detectives suggested that Novack come clean if, for example, someone threatened harm to her if she didn't open the door to the hotel room. She said that didn't happen.

After she was told a youngster might have seen her let two men in, she demanded that the police ask their questions directly.

The detective said, "You want me to ask you straight out? Did you have any involvement in your husband's death?"

"No," Novack said.

When she is told that a broken piece from her eyeglasses was found at the murder scene, Novack said, "If this put me to the electrical chair let's do it right now, you know why, because that would put me out of my misery."

And when one investigator said he believed the killer was "someone in your circle," Novack told him she was trying to communicate with her dead husband.

"I'm trying to connect, cause I want him to tell me if it is somebody I know. ... I want him to tell me something. I wish I had the power," she said, according to the transcripts.

The questioning meanders often and covers, at length, some of the Novacks' sex practices, Ben Novack's "obsession" with Batman memorabilia and the death of a pet cat, which Narcy Novack said prompted suicidal thoughts in her husband.

The transcripts were among hundreds of pages filed by federal prosecutors in response to Novack's motion to suppress her statements.

The motion claimed her statements were not voluntary, she was deprived of food and bathroom breaks during the questioning and she was pressured into taking a lie detector test. Police documents said Narcy Novack was "deceptive" regarding her knowledge of the killing during the polygraph.

Novack also said she should have been advised of her Miranda rights to have a lawyer present and to keep quiet.

The prosecution response filed last week says Novack was not entitled to a Miranda warning because she was never in custody. It says her statements were voluntary and claims she said "she wanted to be as helpful as possible."

"I know I can walk through that door, I know I can call an attorney," Novack told police, according to the transcripts.

When a detective asked Novack if she would take a polygraph test, she said, "I will. I'll take a hundred lie detectors."

To support their stance that Novack's statements were voluntary, prosecutors note, "Novack never confessed — or even came close to doing so." They also say she was given the opportunity to take breaks and was offered food and drink.

Novack's attorney, Howard Tanner, refused to comment, saying that if he responds, it will be in his own court papers.

Veliz also asked that his statements to investigators be suppressed, making the same arguments as Novack. He also asked the judge not to allow in evidence a Western Union receipt that apparently indicates a money transfer of $533 to Miami.

Prosecutors said that Veliz was not in custody when he spoke to police, that his statements were voluntary and that the receipt was in open view on his table when police visited him.