What the Buzzard Saw

Three women were manipulated in death by the person they trusted most in life

Viola Drees, Lorain Enright, and Clara Lewis never knew one another while they were alive. But they had a lot in common.

All spent their adult lives in Miami. All of them had been married, but had no children. All lived into their nineties, widows left to grow old in magnificent, rambling houses, beyond whose doors they rarely ventured. All of them left behind estates worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. All of them had employed Dr. Aloysius "Al" Brady as their primary care physician.

When they died, all of them left Brady a significant portion of their estates, or control of the estates.

Sixty-six-years-old, tall with long limbs, and a cadaverous complexion right down to his bone white hair and mustache, Brady has established a pattern of becoming the most important man in the life of women with surprisingly consistent backgrounds: wealthy, childless, frail, nonagenarians.

It appears he accomplished that by making more than just house calls. He bought them groceries and offered to manage their checkbooks, even if there were already people performing these tasks. He also stopped by for cocktails and bought dinner and flowers. In short, say family and friends, who described all of the women as homebound and lonely, he charmed them.

Lorain Enright of Coconut Grove was 96 years old when she died in 1993. She left behind a house and bank accounts worth $284,000, but never made out a will. She left Brady in control of her estate.

Clara Lewis of Coral Gables was 90 years old when she died in 1997. She amassed an estate worth more than $450,000. After bequeathing $187,000 in gifts to friends, she left Brady half of what was left.

And Viola Drees from Miami, who died in 2000 at 92 years of age, had cash and a home worth about $400,000, perhaps thousands more given the spike in real estate values. She left all but $12,000 to Brady.

In Drees's case, family and friends are convinced that was his goal all along, and have said so during court proceedings trying to block the will.

"I believe that Dr. Aloysius Brady used his doctor/patient relationship to take advantage of Viola Drees," Sherrin Smith, who had helped Drees with financial matters, said in an affidavit.

"I feel that he alienated the family," asserts Vivian Getman, Drees's niece, during a deposition. "He was visiting my aunt a lot and I don't feel he had her best interests at heart."

Both women have contested Drees's will, saying there's evidence the doctor was after her money. Before she died, Brady tried to borrow $30,000 from Drees in an unsecured loan, they say, but both women stepped in to stop it. (Brady's lawyer denies this.) Afterwards, they say, he turned Drees against them and influenced her to rewrite her will, changing the chief beneficiary from the niece, her closest living relative, to Dr. Brady.

Smith even brought her concerns to the Miami Police Department. Given the doctor's financial ties to Drees, and the fact that he was prescribing her medication, homicide detectives found the circumstances suspicious enough to open an inquiry into the events surrounding her death.

In an aging strip mall off Sunset Drive in Kendall, behind a cigar shop and an Argentinean steak house, is the office of "Dr. A. H. Brady General Practitioner." On a weekday afternoon the office appeared closed. The beige curtains were drawn and the door was locked. But when a New Times reporter knocked, Brady himself answered the door -- just a crack. He declined to talk and directed all questions to his lawyer. Then, just as he was closing the door, Brady, in a very soft voice, said, "It's all fabrications."

Other than a blanket denial, his lawyer didn't offer much more insight into Brady's behavior. "I really think it's most appropriate that this case be tried in the court system and not in the media," attorney Michelle Maracini says. "All of their allegations are disputed." She declined further comment.

Aloysius H. Brady came to the medical profession at a mature age, graduating from the University of Miami's Medical School in 1972 when he was 34 years old. He lists his specialty as family practitioner, and is licensed in both Florida and Ohio. His disciplinary record is clean in both states. In addition to his office, he has surgery privileges at South Miami Hospital.

Those who know him say he's a quiet, private man. Whether by design or not, few people saw him interacting with the three women he was caring for. By most outward signs, he lives modestly. He drives a three-year-old Cadillac DeVille, and resides with his wife in a single-story house in a leafy part of Kendall that he bought in 1973, a year after graduating medical school, for $57,000. Today it has a market value of $548,000.

While geriatrics is not his specialty, his decision to focus care on old women is a canny professional choice.

That's because as a nation, we're getting older. Medical advances have increased our lifespans by about twenty years since the first half of the Twentieth Century. According to census figures twelve percent of our population, roughly 35 million people, is aged 65 or older. That number is expected to grow to 70 million, or 20 percent, in the next three decades. And of that group the majority are women. The world over, women outlive men. They become the bulk of what demographers call "the oldest old," people who live into their eighties and beyond.

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