Real Name: Woodruff Scovel Kelly Jr.
Aliases: No known nicknames
Wanted For: Fraud
Missing Since: June 8, 1985
Details: Woody Kelly was a forty-two-year-old investment counselor, but as his number of clients increased, he began to suspiciously start living very well. He moved into a luxurious mansion, purchased four luxury cars, two airplanes, three more homes and six boats. Things were looking very suspicious when Kelly seemingly vanished.
At 9PM on June 8, 1985, a yacht was found drifting offshore of Lake Michigan. Officer Wayne Brooks swam in the water to the boat. He entered the boat but found nobody on board. The owner of the yacht was Kelly, who lived with his family his family in Antioch, Illinois in 1975. After he began his investment business, the family moved into a mansion near a local lake. He became a respected person in the town.
Many of the townspeople became his business clients. He promised them a 16 to 19% interest on his investments. His clients felt he was laid-back and trustworthy. As his business flourished, he began to buy expensive items. He bought four luxury cars, two airplanes, three different homes, and six boats. He was considered extremely generous; he took his friends and investors on trips across the lake on his yacht.
On June 8, 1985, Kelly showed up at a yacht dealer to check on a boat that he had just purchased. He wanted to take it on a test run alone, but the dealer said that it was company policy that another person had to be with him during the test run. However, Kelly was adamant that he wanted to go alone. He convinced the dealer to let him go off alone. He left at approximately 3 pm, headed for Waukegan, Illinois, about twenty miles away. He told his family that he would be home by 6 pm; however, he never returned.
Over the next few days, the Coast Guard re-traced Kelly's route; however, there was no sign of him. His distinctive sunglasses were found on the boat, so it was suspected that he had fallen overboard. The same week Kelly disappeared, a client filed a civil suit against him, charging him with improper business practices. Investigators discovered that instead of putting clients' money into investments, Kelly would just spend their money. He used this money to pay for his lavish lifestyle. It was later determined that $6 million of investor's money was missing. Sadly, some investors lost homes and other properties as a result of his fraud.
After his disappearance, many rumors began to swirl about the fate of Woody Kelly. Some suspected that he had been murdered by a former partner-in-crime. Other suspected that an accomplice picked him up by boat or seaplane. Investigators continue to follow up on leads about Kelly's whereabouts. However, they have no idea if he is still alive.
Extra Notes: This segment originally ran on the December 6, 1989 episode.
Results: Wanted. In 1992, seven years after Kelly's disappearance, his wife tried to have him declared dead, but two witnesses appeared to testify that he was still alive. One witness was a deputy chief who said he had seen him in Tampa, Florida in 1990. The other witness was a fire captain who claimed to have seen him in Waukegan in July 1991. Instead of being legally declared dead, Woody Kelly was indicted on eighteen counts of mail fraud and two counts of mail fraud. There is still a warrant for his arrest. He is 5'11" and 200 pounds with blue eyes, brown hair. Today, he would be seventy-four-years-old.
- Woody Kelly at Unsolved.com
- The Strange Disappearance Of Woody Kelly (Chicago Tribune, 1986)
- Is Swindler Dead? Insurers Fight Claim
- Fraud victims to get some money back (Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, 1998)
- 2005 Daily Herald Article on the Case