Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Helen Brach: Gone But Not Forgotten

Menk's Investigation

John Menk's investigation went nowhere, though not through any fault of his own. The first place to find out how Helen wanted her money spent was in her will, he thought and he wrote Brach's attorney, asking for a copy of the document. John Conway, Helen's attorney, wrote back that Menk had no business asking for such a thing and that attorney-client privilege prevented him from turning over the will. Until he had evidence that Helen Brach was dead, Conway said, his hands were tied. Menk went to court to have Conway ordered to surrender the will, but Conway even withstood a contempt of court order and refused to budge.

So Menk asked Jack Matlick to come to his office in the Sears Tower to answer some questions. Matlick, who had been fired from his job at the Brach estate by Everett Moore and removed from the Schaumburg house, agreed.

He repeated his story as told to the police and under oath told Menk that the will he had seen left money to a variety of animal protective organizations and to Charles Voorhees.

"He's going to be a millionaire," Matlick told Menk.

Next, Menk summoned Charles Voorhees. Over the course of a day-long interrogation, Voorhees answered Menk's questions with little more than monosyllabic yes or no answers. He rarely expounded on an answer and had little to add.

Richard Bailey
Richard Bailey

The next deposition Menk took was the most troubling. He had asked Helen's friend Richard Bailey to come in and answer questions. Bailey had taken Helen to New York over New Years' Eve and had arranged for her stay at the Mayo Clinic – the place where she was last seen alive. He was supposed to meet her in Florida, and was reportedly in Fort Lauderdale when she disappeared. In addition, Bailey had helped Helen buy some race horses in the last year.

Bailey was a well-known, shady character in the high-flying Chicago set. He was a man of questionable ethics who more than once had been involved in less-than-above board dealings with some of the city's ruthless horse community.

Bailey showed up at Menk's office with his attorney in tow and refused to even admit his name under questioning. Bailey even had his attorney state that he would not be answering questions based on his Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

Since this wasn't a criminal investigation, Menk had no way to compel Bailey, who wouldn't even admit that he knew Helen Brach.

For three years, Menk acted as guardian ad litem for Helen Brach and over that time he investigated or caused to be investigated every possible lead connected to her disappearance. Eventually, Menk was forced to go to the probate court to report failure. The court declared Helen Vorhees Brach officially a missing person and named Everett Moore as the overseer of her accounts. The judge ruled that in four years — 1984 — the parties could return and petition the court to have Brach legally declared dead.

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