Fontainebleau founder's son dead in hotel

July 13, 2009 3:37:04 PM PDT
The son of the founder of Florida's storied Fontainebleau Hotel was killed in his room at a hotel in suburban New York during a convention he organized, police said Monday. The beaten body of Ben Novack Jr., 53, was found Sunday morning at the Hilton Rye Town, said Rye Brook Police Chief Gregory Austin.

Novack's wife told police she returned from breakfast at 8 a.m. to find him on the floor next to the bed, still in his pajamas, Austin said.

The attack did not appear random, he said. No valuables appeared to be missing, he said. No one reported hearing screams.

"We feel the person who did this was not a stranger who anonymously, randomly picked him, but had some sort of connection which we haven't determined yet," the chief said.

Austin said that he was not releasing information on suspects and that Novack's wife had been with him at the hotel, about 20 miles north of Manhattan, since they arrived Thursday.

Novack's wife was at the hotel Monday, Austin said. Reporters were not allowed in, and her name was not available.

Ben Novack was from Fort Lauderdale and was president and CEO of Convention Concepts Unlimited. He had organized a weekend convention at the Hilton for Amway Global, Austin said.

Nikki Grossman, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Novack was the son of Ben Novack Sr., who owned the Fontainebleau in Miami Beach from its opening in 1954 until he filed for bankruptcy protection in 1977.

The hotel has been used in such Hollywood films as "Goldfinger" and "Scarface" and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

A week before Ben Novack Sr. died in 1985 at age 78, his son asked a Miami judge to find his father mentally incompetent to handle his finances. Austin said he knew nothing about the competency fight.

The chief said an autopsy would be performed Monday, and he would not give details of Novack's injuries or describe what weapon might have been used.

Investigators had not determined whether Novack fought the attacker, he said.

Novack always attended conventions he organized, said company assistant Danica Parrott.


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