Friday, November 7, 2008

Suspect placed 'help wanted' ad after wife went missing

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UPDATE on Werner Lippe

CORTLANDT - After reporting his wife, Faith, missing in early October, Werner Lippe didn't bother plastering their neighborhood with photos or posters of his missing spouse, urging people to call him or offering a reward.

But Lippe - now charged in her murder - did take out an advertisement in a local publication, seeking a part-time bookkeeper to do the work that Faith Lippe, 49, previously did. The couple was divorcing.

Wealthy and thrice-married, Lippe, 66, owns Werner Design, a jewelry business on Manhattan's Fifth Avenue.

The advertisement, which ran in the Oct. 29 edition of The Pennysaver, reads:

"Bookkeeper. For Private Household. Wanted 2 hrs. weekly 5-7 p.m. Flexible weekdays, M-Th. My wife, who did all this work, is since 3wks missing. I need someone very honest to organize my stuff. Top pay for the right person." The ad then instructs interested persons to call Lippe at his home after 5 p.m.

Senior Investigator Bruce Cuccia said state police were aware of the classified ad.

"It's just another strange piece of this puzzle. It plays into the whole scheme of things," Cuccia said yesterday. "It's very odd."

Lippe, born and raised in Poland, is being held without bail at the Westchester County jail after state police charged him last week with second-degree murder in the killing of his wife of 18 years. He is due back in Cortlandt Town Court on Nov. 17. The couple have two children, Andrew, 14, and Stephanie, 12, who are staying with neighbors.

Lippe was represented at a court appearance Monday by Manhattan attorney Barry Bohrer, who specializes in defending white-collar crime. Bohrer made it clear that he was with Lippe for that appearance only and that he would get another lawyer. A secretary at Bohrer's office said yesterday that they did not know if Lippe had obtained new counsel, and the Cortlandt Town Court had no record of a new attorney.

Police charged Lippe after they said he confessed to the crime. They have been searching the family's million-dollar home at 9 Little Lake Run in Cortlandt since his arrest Oct. 30. The house has an Ossining mailing address but is in Cortlandt, near the Teatown Lake Reservation.

The body of Faith Lippe, a nutrition consultant to the Ossining school district, has not been found. Police said that Werner Lippe indicated there were certain areas on his property where police could find his wife's remains. Police said they have recovered evidence from the property but won't say what it is. They have also declined to say how she was killed. The search continued yesterday.

At Monday's court appearance, several of Faith Lippe's friends showed up to confront Werner Lippe, prompting him at one point to say defiantly, "I did nothing."

Outside court, two of Faith Lippe's friends, Connie Drew and Christina Araujo, described Werner Lippe as a controlling husband who was verbally and psychologically abusive toward his wife. They also said that he acted as if the joint property amassed during their 18-year union belonged solely to him.

Reach Terence Corcoran at or 914-666-6138.

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