An investment counselor vanishes with $6 million of his clients’ money.

Woody Kelly wearing a suite, tie, and glasses

Woody Kelly

Suspect:

Gender: Male
DOB: 1943
Height: 5’11”
Weight: 200 lbs.
Eyes: Blue
Hair: Brown (may now be gray)

Woody at the helm of his yacht, taking it out for a test drive

Woody took a yacht out for a test drive

Woody's abandoned yacht drifting just off the shore of Lake Michigan

Later the yacht was found abandoned

CASE DETAILS

At 9:30 PM on June 8, 1985, a yacht was sighted drifting just off the shore of Lake Michigan. Its occupant was apparently in danger.   Officer Wayne Brooks of the Zion Police Department responded to the 911 call:

“When I initially got there, I heard the engines running.   As I got closer, the engines died.   The boat was then just drifting.   I was able to pull myself up over the side.   I was looking for the victim of a possible heart attack.   I searched the boat, the cabin area, down below, found nobody on the boat. When I arrived, the way the engines were running, if somebody had fallen off that boat, it’s my opinion they could not have gotten back on that boat.   It would have been moving away from them, too quickly.”

Two police investigators holding Woody's bank records by a computer

Police seized Woody’s records

The owner of the yacht was 42-year old investment counselor Woody Kelly.   No sign of Kelly, or his body, has ever been found.

In 1975, Woody Kelly and his family settled near Lake Michigan in the small Illinois town of Antioch.   At first, the Kellys lived in a modest neighborhood, but after he began an investment business, the family’s fortunes began to change.   They moved to a mansion near a local lake.   According to Antioch’s mayor, Robert Wilton, Woody Kelly quickly became one of the town’s most respected citizens:

“Woody, I feel, was considered by a lot of people as a pillar of the community. He belonged to two very active community organizations, participated a great deal in those organizations.”

Woody was a dedicated family man and often invited his new friends and neighbors to his luxurious home.   Soon, many of his personal friends became business clients.   One of the principal clients of Woody’s investment company was veterinarian Daniel Osgood:

“He seemed very professional.   He had a very substantial office staff.   His reports were very exacting.   He just had all the instruments that promoted confidence.”

Woody was able to promise and deliver an amazing 16 to 19 percent interest on his investments. And as his business flourished, so did his lifestyle.   He owned four luxury cars, two airplanes, three different homes, and six boats.   As a hobby, he even started a yacht charter service.   On June 8, 1985, Kelly showed up at a yacht dealership to check on a new boat he had just purchased.    David Kelly was the service manager working that day:

“He told me he was going to take the boat out.   So I asked him if he wanted me to go with him for a test drive.   Our company policy is that nobody will go for a lake test alone. He was very adamant about it.   He insisted that no, I have people waiting for me at the dock. He said he wanted to go out alone.   So I helped him cast off and that was the last we’ve seen of him.”

Kelly headed north towards Waukegan, Illinois, about 20 miles away.   He told his family he would be home by 6:00 PM.   However, Woody Kelly never returned.   Over the next few days, the Coast Guard retraced Kelly’s route.   When they found his sunglasses on the boat, they assumed he had accidentally fallen overboard.   However, his body was never found.   After this unusual disappearance, the town of Antioch was saddened.   But as time passed, sadness turned to shock, and then anger.   Evidence surfaced showing that Woody Kelly was more than a genial financial wizard… much more.   The same week that Kelly disappeared, a client filed a civil suit accusing him of improper business practices.   After Kelly vanished, Detective Dan Collin from the Lake County Sheriff’s Department became involved in the investigation:

“When the office staff began looking at the records, they realized that there was no money in the bank accounts.   The money was just being spent.   Every time an investor would put money in, it was going right back out… looking at the checkbooks, you knew, that it was a fraud.”

When Kelly’s records were scrutinized, they showed that the bulk of the investors’ money had gone directly into his pocket.   Almost six million dollars was missing.   One of those investors was Dorothy Scichowski:

“My husband and I invested our money with Woody after we sold our home.   And we invested, I estimate, about thirty thousand dollars.”

Seven years after Kelly disappeared, his wife tried to have him declared legally dead.   At the hearing, two acquaintances testified that they had seen him after he disappeared. Not only was Woody Kelly not declared dead, but a federal grand jury indicted him on 18 counts of mail fraud and two counts of IRS fraud.   There’s a warrant out for his arrest.


Watch this case now on Amazon Prime in season two with Robert Stack and season seven with Dennis Farina. Also available on YouTube with Dennis Farina. Various seasons available now on Hulu.

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23 Comments

  1. Anonymous

    Woody years ago had ties to important people from Saudi Arabia when he an electronic store. He was a strong family man who would not desert family and served his country in Vietnam. I suspect he was murdered

    Reply

  2. Dave

    A financial planner who’s a crook???? No way!!!! Seriously, is every financial planner a crook? Greatest scheme of all time is the financial planning business. They can steal and never go to jail! Pathetic
    industry

    Reply

  3. John dow

    You’ll never find him !

    Reply

  4. Robert Lee Ehlinger

    Do tell?

    Reply

  5. Novel Idea

    He refined and perfected the chumpy chumbalone to fit his liking then they cry foul about getting taken when all along it was an equal amount of scheming going on. He was king on separating a fool from his money I tip my hat to him. Next time you give a dollar at a street corner you may have gotten taken one more time by Woody.

    Reply

  6. Bill Blaski

    3 post under this one that link is a dead ringer for Woody. By my math he would be 77yrs old?

    Reply

  7. roger sona

    I was the Optometrist who prescribed the sunglasses that were found. True to form, He stiffed me on the bill for them.

    Reply

  8. Stacy Grieshaber

    I just thought this episode was awesome. I worked at Amaco on 21st and lewis in zion when I was 18 in 2001 and officer Wayne brooks was head of swat. I served this man his coffee every morning. He also saved my butt from going to jail and helped me change my life around. Outstanding police officer and I’m proud to know him. Hope ya catch this guy. What a butthole.

    Reply

  9. Donna melendez

    Found a woody Kelly on Twitter that sure looks like what he would look like now.

    https://images.app.goo.gl/9sgE76pKbpWAQ45Q8

    Reply

  10. John

    Shouldn’t the statute of limitations be up by now?

    Reply

  11. RatherNotSay

    I recently moved to a new area. This may be a long shot but I figure it’s worth someone looking into. I saw a man walk by my new home 2 days ago that very closely resembles this man (aged of course). Only thing that doesn’t make sense to me is the fact that the man looked like he was not a millionaire at all. He looked kind of poor and like I said, was walking. He had a backpack on. Same height though, and same face. He had long gray hair that was pulled back and looked to be a bit overweight. If it the same man he must have spent all that money and is now poor and hiding in my town is all I can think.

    Reply

  12. Charles

    Where about did he live in Antioch
    Was told this eared there other day and someone said that it looked like my house
    Thanks for your time

    Reply

    • Mark

      Well, I believe he lived off of Lake Catherine or Lake Marie. However, the house that they show in the episode is the English tutor right next to Grass Lake School (which I attended at the time this episode aired).

      Reply

  13. Rebecca

    Okay…..where is he if you guys know where he is???

    Reply

  14. Jeremy

    Did they find him?

    Reply

  15. Douglas Graham

    In 1984 I bought a 60′ yacht from Woody Kelly, which he kept in Ft. Lauderdale & chartered to the Bahamas. After I purchased the yacht, Kelly purchased the sport fisherman. I learned later from law enforcement that he, the embezzled 6 million and his girlfriend all went to Egypt. The reason we know this is he found a new girl friend in Egypt and dumped his first girlfriend & left her there. She in turn blew the whistle on him. I was contacted by the FBI, Scotland Yard & Interpol asking what I knew about him. His wife’s attorney eventually called me to ask if I would pay the balance owed on the yacht I had purchased, so the wife could get financial assistance. She had to show that she had no assets.
    My E-mail is [email protected]

    Reply

  16. Wille droply

    Hes still alive I know where he is

    Reply

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