Chicago's Most Wanted: Woodruff Kelly Junior - Fox 2 News Headlines

Chicago's Most Wanted: Woodruff Kelly Junior

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

This case is one that is full of international intrigue, sparked by a suspicious disappearance by a man who may have even deceived his own wife and children to make off with millions of dollars.

Woodruff Kelly Junior operated "Woodruff Investment Company" in Lake County, Illinois. It's alleged that he operated a Ponzi scheme under the guise of selling second mortgages.

In May of 1985 he was sued by an investor who said he was trying to recover money The next month Kelly disappeared.

The FBI believes he faked his own death.

Kelly was last seen in Kenosha, Wisconsin when he boarded a 42-foot yacht he said he was purchasing. Kelly is an expert yachtsman and sport fisherman and when he left the harbor he insisted on going alone. He refused to let the boat's mechanic come along.

When Kelly didn't return, his son called the coast guard, who found the yacht circling in lake Michigan with no sign of Kelly.

The FBI believes Kelly is still alive.

A judge had a similar suspicion. Seven years after Kelly's disappearance his wife filed suit in Lake County seeking to have her husband declared legally dead so she could collect on a $500,000 life insurance policy.

The insurance company hired its own private investigator because of the suspicious nature and timing of Kelly's disappearance. The company presented several witnesses who testified they had seen Kelly alive in the years after he vanished. That was enough for the judge to rule that there was sufficient evidence to believe Kelly was still alive.

If alive, Kelly would be close to 70 years old today.

FBI forensic artists created sketches depicting Kelly as he might now look.

Agents believe Kelly has probably fled the United States. Investigators say Kelly made off with about $6 million from a total of about 300 people who had unwittingly invested in Kelly's alleged ponzi scheme, so Kelly could have money to live comfortably.

Kelly also had ties to international yachting and sport fishing destinations, so there are many possibilities as to where he may have fled.

The FBI is offering a $10,000 reward for information that leads to Kelly's arrest. It hopes Kelly's story gets international attention on the internet, which wasn't available when it originally started the search.

Kelly is described as a white male with blue eyes. He's 69 years old. At the time of disappeared he was 5' 11'' and weighed about 200 pounds. He is an avid boater and sport fisherman and may go by the nickname "Woody Kelly."

Anyone with information is asked to call police or the FBI.

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