Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Glamorous Life and Grisly Death of Ben Novack Jr.

The Comic Book Collection and Fight Over the Estate

Novack's collection of Batman memorabilia
Novack's collection of Batman memorabilia

One of Narcy's key points to police in the early days of the investigation was her husband's high profile in the world of comic books, as well as his volatile personality. The picture she painted for investigators was that people were after the Novack fortune, that "her husband has been hanging out and doing business with weird people," one of whom he had agreed to pay $43,000 for a single comic book. She did not name the person, and she insisted that her husband often dealt in cash, carrying large amounts with him on business trips. And because of the amount of cash her husband often carried, investigators wrote, "Narcy advised that she could not determine if large sums of money were stolen."

Though it took nearly a year to bring charges against Narcy Novack, it couldn't be argued that she stood to make a fortune from his death. Initial reports — before the assets were added up — put his fortune around $6 to $10 million. The Batman memorabilia — judged to be the second largest in the world — was worth an estimated $1 million alone, and filled four warehouses.

While investigators circled around Narcy Novack in the year before charging her, other family members, including her own daughter, May Abad, attempted to prevent Narcy from taking over the estate. The day the will was filed, on August 14, 2009, Narcy and her daughter allegedly had a vicious fight, in which, May contends, her mother hit her with a crowbar. After police were called, an investigation into the fight was launched.

Novack's Batmobile
Novack's Batmobile

Citing the state's so-called "slayer statute" in which a killer can't inherit the estate, Abad filed suit to prevent her mother from taking over the estate in the year following the murder. The case dragged on; The Palm Beach Post reported that by February 2010 the case file was "four inches thick — its contents filled with accusations of infidelity, theft and murder." On February 10, 2010, the judge, Charles M. Greene, dismissed the lawsuit attempting to remove Narcy as the executor. The lawyers for the plaintiff asked for the case to be dismissed without prejudice since Narcy had not yet been charged with any crime, reserving the right to bring a new suit when and if she was indicted.

Adding yet another twist to the tale, Ben's beloved mother, Bernice had been found dead at the bottom of the stairs in her Fort Lauderdale home three months before his own murder. The ruling dismissing the family's lawsuit temporarily opened the door for Narcy to take control, not just of Ben Jr.'s estate, but also of his mother's estate.

 

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