If it weren't so obvious, it might be shocking.
We learned today in a federal court hearing that Narcy Novack is suspected to have had a hand in killing not only her husband, Ben Novack, but his mother, Bernice, the former queen of the Fountainbleu Hotel. Finally, we get a feeling that real justice may be on the way.
But this is the feds' doing; it was Uncle Sam to the rescue again. And that doesn't change the fact that our local agencies, namely the Fort Lauderdale Police Department and the Broward County Medical Examiner's Office, failed so spectacularly that I'm not sure they deserve our confidence until thorough housecleanings happen in both.
Not that there was much confidence in the first place. Make no mistake: The Bernice Novack murder case should scare every citizen in Broward County to his or her core.
The Miami Herald's Julie Brown has been on this from jump street, to her great credit. I picked up her reporting in April, when I led a blog post this way:
On one of the most perplexing mysteries this town has ever seen, FLPD spokesman Francis Sousa gave us a rendition of, "Move along, nothing to see here."
Bull. There's plenty to look at -- and none of it is pretty.
Novack, the former grande dame of the glamorous Fontainebleau Hotel in Miami, was found dead in her blood-smeared Fort Lauderdale home a year ago in a "nightgown drenched with blood" and with "massive skull injuries, broken teeth, a fractured finger and
broken jaw." The Fort Lauderdale Police Department determined that the 87-year-old Novack died after a "series of falls."
A whole lot of people aren't buying that explanation. In fact, her Batmobile-collecting son, Ben Novack Jr., reportedly had doubts about the police ruling before he himself was beaten to death in a New York hotel room three months after his mother's demise...
Adding to the intrigue, men had been seen hiding in Bernice Novack's bushes not long before her death and someone had thrown a ceramic garden object through her window. Throw in financial shenanigans and allegations that Narcy allegedly looted safe deposit boxes owned by Ben Jr. and Bernice at Bank of America after their deaths and you have one of the most sordid and complicated mysteries this town has ever seen.
Not so, says Sousa, the FLPD mouthpiece. From the Herald story:
"That letter doesn't prove anything,'' said police spokesman Frank Sousa. He said police chose not to pursue the claims because the letter wasn't signed. Detectives say it could be a red herring meant to cast suspicion on Narcy, who stands to inherit her late husband's wealth -- unless implicated in his death.
``At this point, there is nothing to indicate anything different from our [initial] finding,'' said Sousa. ``We've looked at this case on several levels, several times, and came to the same finding.''
Medical Examiner Joshua Perper is also sticking by his guns that Bernice Novack fell over and over again to her bloody and brutal death.
Wait, the police didn't pursue the contents of a letter because it was anonymous? That's one of the most idiotic things I've ever heard. It's not just the stunning incompetence but the belligerence.
The investigation was a joke. From the Herald story in April:
Other than from the wine glass, no fingerprints were lifted inside the house or inside Bernice's car, Sousa said. The only prints on the glass were Bernice's. No DNA samples were collected and there is no photograph on file of the wine glass, he said.
Sousa added that three neighbors -- whom he declined to identify -- were interviewed, but there is no record of those interviews. Greene, the next-door neighbor, said she had only a brief discussion with a patrolman, not a detective.
Police did not interview Bernice Novack's handyman, with whom she had spent part of the day before her death, Sousa said.
One word comes to mind: pathetic. But we can bellyache all day and nothing will happen until our leaders actually start responding to our problems rather than taking care of their own fat faces. The police chief was eating at the greatest criminal in town's restaurant and providing him protection? We shake our heads in disbelief; the elected officials in Fort Lauderdale clear him and talk about how relieved they are nothing really went wrong. Nothing to see here folks. Move on.
Well, there is something to see here. And it's an insult to the people of Broward County, who should be just about used to that by now.
[The site has been shaky today -- slow and sometimes inaccessible. Don't know why, but sorry for any inconvenience it may have caused.]