Over the past five weeks, jurors in the Narcy Novack murder trial have heard from a one-eyed killer, a tattooed porn star and a hotel guest who snapped pictures of Ben Novack Jr.’s bloody corpse with his cell phone.
They’ve seen crime scene photos as gruesome as a Charles Manson slaughter, and learned that there is actually such a thing as amputee porn.
And just when it appeared the case couldn’t get any stranger, enter former Miami Dolphin John Offerdahl.
The 47-year-old ex-linebacker apparently employed some of his old gridiron skills to chase away the hired hit men accused of killing both Novack, the millionaire owner of a convention planning business, and his mother, Bernice. Offerdahl, who retired in 1993, lived next door to Bernice Novack, the 86-year-old onetime Coca-Cola model who was married to Ben Novack Sr., builder of the Fontainebleau hotel.
Offerdahl, now owner of a chain of successful South Florida bagel shops, testified this past week during the federal murder and racketeering trial in White Plains, N.Y. Narcy Novack, 55, and her brother, Cristobal Veliz, 58, are charged with arranging the murders.
Offerdahl said that he and his son Drew saw two suspicious looking men prowling outside the family matriarch’s Fort Lauderdale home a few weeks before she was murdered in April 2009.
Father and son went out to investigate and when the men ran off, the 6-foot-3, 230-pound onetime Pro-Bowler gave chase.
At the time, they did not know that they had actually foiled the first attempt to harm their beloved neighbor. Or that one of the men — Alejandro Garcia — would return only a few weeks later and beat Bernice Novack to death with a monkey wrench.
Though Offerdahl filed a report with Fort Lauderdale police at the time, detectives investigating Bernice Novack’s death failed to connect the dots.
Police and the Broward Medical Examiner’s Office ruled her death accidental, probably stemming from a fall she had in a bank parking lot the week before. It wasn’t until Garcia, the one-eyed killer, confessed a year later that it was reclassified a homicide.
But the trial’s most sensational performance could be yet to come.
Narcy Novack could take the witness stand as early as next week.
Given that she has questioned whether her slain husband is even dead, she could turn out to be the wild card in the case.
Veliz has already indicated he intends to testify when attorneys for the sister-brother duo begin their defense next week.
Novack’s lawyer, Howard Tanner, announced that their entire case will last about four days.
The bloodletting began in early 2009 when, prosecutors say, Narcy Novack and Veliz hired two people to break into Bernice Novack’s home and maim her. Alejandro Garcia and an accomplice went to her house, but were scared off by Offerdahl. Garcia testified early in the trial that he and another man returned a few weeks later to complete the job.
Bernice Novack, who suffered massive head injuries, broken teeth and a broken finger, was found in the blood-soaked laundry room of her house. Three months later, while at a business convention in Rye Brook, N.Y. Ben Novack Jr. was bound, gagged and savagely pounded with barbells. While he was still gasping for breath, his eyes were slit.
The two Miami men who confessed to the killings have testified that Narcy was in the hotel room while they were butchering her husband.
They have fingered Veliz as the man who hired them on behalf of his sister, who feared that her 52-year-old husband was going to divorce her and take up with another woman — a porn star named Rebecca Bliss —leaving Narcy penniless. Her husband had a fetish for pornography involving amputees, enjoyed rough sex and liked to consort with prostitutes.
Prosecutors allege that she wanted him — and her mother-in-law — also out of the way so that she would be able to control the family fortune.
Narcy Novack is her husband’s sole heir. But should she be convicted, she will lose all rights to his estimated $10 million estate.