Murder mystery story from 1977 …

Fort Lauderdale beachThis day in history – today’s trivia. I’ve often mentioned the connections between Las Olas and Chicago and here’s another story I unearthed – a gory, true crime mystery.

In February 1977, Jack Matlick was the major domo for a wealthy Chicago multi millionairess, Helen Brach. Mrs Brach was a widow and lived alone. On this day in history Matlick did some curious things. He ordered a large meat grinder … and he ordered Mrs Brach’s house and limo to be extensively cleaned. He allegedly signed several checks in Mrs Brach’s name. A meat grinder – hmm.

Where was Mrs Brach while he was doing this?

She had last been seen a couple of days previously. She had been buying cosmetics and told the lady who served her that she was in a hurry because she was flying to Fort Lauderdale where she owned a condo – she visited here often. The store clerk was the last reliable witness to have seen Helen. Matlick claimed to have driven her, in her pink Cadillac,  to the airport for the Fort Lauderdale flight but admitted that she had no luggage…

She was never seen again. It was two weeks later that Matlick reported her as missing. Before he contacted the police, he got in touch with her brother, Charles Vorhees, who would, incidentally, have benefited greatly from Helen’s will. Together Matlick and Vorhees destroyed her journals – yet at this stage there was no official suspicion of foul play…

Matlick and Vorhees weren’t the only suspects. Helen had been romatically involved with a known conman – Dick Bailey –  who specialized in defrauding rich, older women.

Did she arrive in Fort Lauderdale?

She was declared dead in 1984 – the mystery remained unsolved. Bailey was convicted of defrauding Helen and jailed. But although it was generally believed that he had murdered Helen, he wasn’t convicted for the crime. In 2005, someone who had given evidence against Bailey admitted that he had been forced to kill Helen. He gave a full confession but with no evidence other than that, he wasn’t prosecuted. The man, Joe Plemmons, said that when he had moved Helen’s body, a ruby ring had fallen off her hand. When he confessed, he handed it in to the police. The ring wasn’t proved to belong to the missing woman so again, there was no concrete evidence. Plemmons now lives in Florida on disability …

The case of Helen Brach remains open.Why am I telling you this? Because when Helen disappeared, there was a huge reward offered for information. As the case is still open, the reward may be too…

Remember, a body was never found. Did she make it to Fort Lauderdale after all? But I can’t stop thinking about that meat grinder …

Posted by Las Olas Boulevard in : History News,

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