I-Team Report: Sweet Farewell

July 13, 2011 8:33:55 PM PDT
Helen Brach, heir to Chicago's Brach candy fortune, vanished in 1977. Now the prime suspect in her disappearance is gone as well.

His name is Jack Matlick. He worked as personal valet and a so-called houseman for Helen Brach, the wealthy widow of Chicago candy baron Frank Brach.

It has been nearly 35 years since Mrs. Brach was seen alive at her estate in north suburban Glenview. Matlick is said to be the last person to see her, and now he is gone forever.

"I don't know who killed Helen Brach. I have no idea. I have no idea what happened to her," Matlick told the I-Team in 1994.

Matlick always vigorously denied knowing what happened to his former boss who was the beneficiary of the Brach candy fortune.

It was just after Valentine's Day 1977 that Helen Brach was last known to be alive. She had just returned from a check up at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota. Matlick had picked her up at O'Hare and told authorities that he drove her back to Glenview where she prepared for a vacation in Florida. It was a trip she would never take.

For decades, Matlick, an ex-con, was the primary focus of federal, state and local investigators. But without a confirmed corpse and other evidence, he was never charged and never will be.

The I-Team has learned that Jack Matlick is dead. He died in a Pennsylvania nursing home at age 79.

What secrets about Helen Brach does he take to the grave?

"He probably takes the most important part, which is what happened to her and what happened to her body after she died. He knew," said Jim DeLorto, ex-ATF agent.

DeLorto, now a private investigator based in Batavia, supervised the Brach case and a related horse-killing insurance scheme.

Mrs. Brach had found out about the criminal business while dating one of its leaders, accomplished con man Richard Bailey, now serving a long prison term.

"Bailey ran a mafia which specialized in defrauding women out of large sums of money through bogus transactions with horses. She turned out to be one of his larger victims," said Steve Miller, ex-federal prosecutor.

When Brach threatened to blow the whistle on the Bailey fraud ring, Matlick was enlisted to arrange her death, according to the law enforcement theory.

"We don't believe that there was ever a trip to Florida, or a trip to the airport. He was the person that benefited the most from her passing...financially," said DeLorto.

According to DeLorto:

  • Matlick stole gold coins worth more than $100,000 from Brach's home
  • cashed forged checks from Brach's account totaling $13,000
  • the day Brach disappeared, tollway receipts put Matlick close to some woods where a body fitting her description was later discovered but never confirmed to be that of the candy heiress
  • "We believe that that was her, and that her remains were found in a forest preserve on the Far South Side of Chicago," DeLorto told the I-Team.

    But without DNA, a witness or a confession, even though Matlick flunked several lie detector tests, prosecutors say they never had enough hard evidence to charge him.

    "Who put the bullet in her body, who plunged the knife into her heart, those sort of details about how she was murdered, I don't think anyone will ever know," said Miller.

    Certainly not now, say those who have long suspected Matlick.

    His obituary, published only in Pennsylvania, states that he worked as a general manager for the Brach candy company until 1978 -- not true according to DeLorto.

    "He never worked for the factory, never was involved in manufacturing candy," said DeLorto.

    Matlick is buried in a cemetery in Butler, Pennsylvania, the city where he lived out his senior years. He died in February, his death escaping the attention of law enforcement there. And oddly, he died February 14th, on the cusp of the Brach disappearance anniversary.

    The last time Matlick spoke in public in 2004, he told the I-Team, "I have nothing to say. Goodbye."

    There was no last will and testament filed by Matlick, according to county officials in Pennsylvania and Illinois. Some of Matlick's adult children and other relatives live in metro Chicago. One of his daughters who lives in Lake in the Hills told the I-Team that the Brach death never came up in discussions with Jack Matlick.


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