The mysterious Rye Town Hilton homicide was the third murder case in Rye Brook’s brief history. I remember the first one, which was in 1988.
At the time, I was an editor working out of Gannett’s Sound Shore bureau in New Rochelle. We got a telephone call from a local funeral home. The undertaker had an obituary for a 79-year-old woman and they wanted it printed in the next day’s paper. They said the woman died “after a short illness.”
Uh, it wasn’t exactly so.
It turned out she was bludgeoned to death by her landlord, who wanted her out of her apartment. I seem to recall that the obit ran as if she had peacefully died in her sleep.
Somebody lied, either the cops or the funeral home…or both. I never did get to the bottom of it, but I do know that the police chief at the time was hard to deal with.
Rye Brook was a new municipality, too, carved out of Rye Town in 1982, so maybe there was an element of inexperience at work. In any event, and for whatever reason, they wanted the woman’s death out of the public eye.
Not so with the case of Ben Novack, Jr., the son of the founder of Miami’s famed Foutainbleau Hotel, who was found dead in his hotel room over the weeked. The Hilton was turned into a crime scene. A couple next door to Novack’s room was told to leave. And a press conference was held.
What a difference in sophistication from 21 years ago.