Disappearance of Daniel Burack on the cabin cruiser “Witchcraft”

24 03 2014

At approximately 9 pm on December 22, 1967, Daniel S. Burack , on board his 23-foot cabin cruiser “Witchcraft,” called Miami (Coast Guard) to report that he’d hit something in the vicinity of buoy number 7, at the outlet of Government Cut. His boat was disabled, but it was not a big deal. He was a safety guy. Both he and his passenger could wait. They just needed a tow into shore and would use a signal flare to indicate their position.

19 minutes later, the assisting vessel arrived at Danny’s last reported position. No Danny. No further communication. No boat. No Father Horgan. No debris.

The fact that help arrived on the scene so quickly suggests that the boys at the harbor knew Danny well – since they were certainly not the only ones on the bay that night. Boats packed with Christmas light tourists clogged the waterways. And in 1967, looting criminals were using the waterfront as their own personal highway to wealthy homes. Danny was the proud owner of that very kind of real estate.

The search went on for over a week – by air and by sea. No trace of Daniel Burack or Father Padraig Horgan has ever been found.

To this day, authors citing strange phenomena have used this disappearance as evidence that they were merely victims of the Bermuda Triangle.

But really?

Most newspaper accounts report that buoy number 7 is approximately one mile from Miami Beach. However, it is not a mile from shore. Buoy number 7 is at the outlet of Government Cut. Any inbound vessel would note it as a channel marker between the South Pointe Park and Fisher Island, less than 300 yards from the shore. And South Point Park is a little more than 2 1/2 miles south of Daniel Burack’s home on Sunset Island #4.

Other questions arise from this:

If Danny, the son of Jewish immigrants, was indeed taking the Catholic Priest out on a tour of the Miami Christmas lights, why in the world would he head east through Government Cut, into the Atlantic Ocean, when the vast majority of lights could have been viewed from within the shores of the islands and on the inland shore of Miami proper?

Was it a ruse? Was he ever really at Government Cut?

Daniel Burack’s waterfront home at 2135 Lake Avenue, Sunset Island Number 4, lies at the northeast corner of the southernmost island in a group of four islands that jut into Biscayne Bay, separated from the Island of Miami Beach by Sunset Lake. Miami proper lies directly to the west, across the bridge to the mainland. When Dan fired up his boat, he had to travel north up the “lake” before heading west through the channel separating Sunset Islands 2 and 3 before he could head south to Government Cut. That route also seems likely since his call for vessel assist came in at 9 pm, not long after leaving the moorage at his home. That is, if Government Cut was indeed his destination.

So, let’s skip the route, the bridges that would have dictated his departure and his probable navigational plans.

Instead, let’s think about why he might have gone missing. And why Daniel Burack’s disappearance seems more sinister than any of the theories presented by the Bermuda Triangle experts.

Miami of 1967 was not always a great place for the wealthy to hang out. Two months before Burack’s disappearance, the waterfront estate of millionaire Willis H. du Pont was raided by five bandits, who tied the family up and stole approximately $1.5 million in rare coins and medals. All recovered items from that theft have been linked solely to two-bit hoods who came by “the goods” as payment for other deeds and were busted when they tried to ransom them for a fraction of their value. As of this date, 46 years after the crime, most of the collection remains missing.

On January 22, 1967, exactly one month after Daniel Burack and Father Horgan dissappeared, one of Danny’s neighbors on Sunset Island Number 4 endured a robbery similar to that of the du Pont family. Saverio “Sam” Codomo, a real estate developer with ties to the mob, was hosting an evening party after the wedding of his daughter, Barbara. Two bandits entered the waterfront home, tied up the occupants, stole valuable coins, and fled by boat. It was just one of many unsolved Miami crimes.

Until 1963, Daniel Burack had been a successful hotelier. That was the year of the fire – the year Galen Hall Hotel burned to the ground under suspicious circumstances. Two years after that devastating event, Danny sold the Galen Hall Property at Wernersville, Pennsylvania and moved to Miami full time, where he built another hotel – Galen Beach.

When Danny disappeared, he had already sold out his interest in the newly completed resort. For a full year and a half, he was apparently unemployed. What else could he do? He’d been born into the hotel business, lived and breathed the hotel business.

And the Miami scene was on the verge of financial melt-down…


Actions

Information

76 responses

18 04 2014
Nancy

I don’t get it, what are you really saying? What is your hypothesis?

20 08 2014
Michelle Merritt

Nancy, As a licensed merchant mariner, very little of the published accounts of this disappearance make sense to me. I posted this blog in the initial research phase, hoping that someone who knew Danny Burack or Father Horgan would eventually contribute some thoughts. To date, I’ve accumulated approximately 200 pages of background information that suggest several scenarios – none of which have anything to do with the Bermuda Triangle. Take a look at the map of government cut, buoy #7 – then go to google earth and take a look at Danny’s place on Sunset Island #4. Not exactly what I would describe as being “at sea.” Half of the city was out looking at Christmas lights that night. And the storm didn’t blow in until the next day. I’ll keep you posted as things develop. Thanks for your interest in the story!

21 08 2014
Sally Doganieri

Michelle, How wonderful to hear from you. I will introduce myself as a first cousin of Fr. Padraig Horgan. He was not only my cousin but my dear friend. I was only 23 years old when he disappeared. We received a phone call on December 24th telling us of the tragedy. He always spent his Christmas vacation with us and the people at the rectory wanted us to know he would not be coming.
I am going to share this information with my brother, Robert who has been researching it also Since that awful day in 1967 we have never stopped looking for answers. I have imagined many scenarios as you have and none make sense. I believe the FBI must know something but what that is, we don’t know. We have long stopped believing it had anything to do with the Bermuda Triangle.
Padraig was so dear to us and never a day goes by that we don’t think of him and miss him terribly. He was only 34 years old at the time of his disappearance and had just received his Doctorate. He was brilliant and personable a truly spiritual being . Not only have we his family in New York and Ireland lost a rare human being who had so much to give, but the world has lost a great a great mind. Thank you for the information. We will keep in touch.
Sally Murphy Doganieri

19 07 2014
Sally Doganieri

As a cousin of Fr. Horgan, I would appreciate Any new information. We, his family in the U.S. and his family in Ireland have never found out what happened to him.

21 08 2014
Michelle Merritt

Sally,
After I spoke with a priest who graduated from seminary with Father Horgan, it became obvious how much was missing from his side of the story. Your assistance would be greatly appreciated! I’ll email you directly.
Michelle

21 08 2014
Sally Doganieri

Gotcha! would you please ask that priest to contacted me. I correspond fairly often with Padraig’s sister and brother in Ireland. I am trying to figure out how to correspond with you privately. Not comfortable with discussing such a personal matter on a public forum. You can message me privately on Facebook as Sally Murphy Doganieri. I want to share the information and exchanges with my brother and Padraig’s sister and brother in Ireland. Thank you. Sally

21 08 2014
Michelle Merritt

I just emailed you privately and will send the father’s contact info.

14 12 2015
thewhistler77

Hello Michelle. Familiar with this very strange occurrence through – yes – a book on the Bermuda Triangle. It defies logic but i find your idea that perhaps the boat was never at Buoy #7 to begin with intriguing. The idea that something nefarious occurred and was connected with shady dealings and criminal activity is plausible and would make the “distress” call a ruse to distract or confuse the Coast Guard. That said it is hard to think the CG searched for as long and as far as they did and not even a trace was found. And i cannot figure what a priest would be involved in anything like this and moreso after reafing about Fr. Horgan’s character. Very bizarre case.

14 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

Hello Whistler,
It’s been over a year since I last worked on this story. Prior to that, I amassed newspaper articles and did some serious digging into the Burack family history. I also happen to be a licensed merchant mariner who completed sea survival training in Florida. I’ve sailed from Glacier Bay to the Sea of Cortez,through the Panama Canal, and back to Alaska many times (under power and sail). NONE of the ships that I’ve crewed on were equipped as well as the Witchcraft allegedly was. Events that occurred in Daniel Burack’s life around the time of his disappearance lead me to believe that he and Father Horgan were never at Government Cut. Why a Catholic Priest? Good question. However, there was a land dispute that seems tied to Danny’s property dealings around Miami – as well as to that of the construction of a Catholic hospital. Then there is the fact that Danny was living high on the hog, as he always had, and was likely experiencing financial difficulties. Exactly 2 years (to the day) after he disappeared, his wife sold the house on Sunset Island and invested in a big condo development. There’s more, a lot more. One day, I’ll connect all of the dots. Bottom line? Bermuda Triangle, my ass.
Thanks for weighing in!
Michelle

15 12 2015
thewhistler77

Hmmm…think wife had him bumped off and cashed in? Or did Dan disappear on purpose to escape his debts and some people catching up with him? Either seems plausible but i still can’t figure where Father Horgan fits into this. It seems an unlikely friendship to begin with and it is hard to think Mr Burack would get a priest caught up in his troubles. Strange…

15 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

Thanks for reminding me that this case will drive me nuts until it’s solved…I’m digging through my notes.

What Mary knew is hard to say. She died in 2012 and it would appear that neither of the kids know much either. What I wouldn’t give to dig through those boxes of family heirlooms they must have – because, as it has been said, they don’t know what they don’t know. Back in 1967, Mary and the kids were fixtures in Miami well-to-do society. Her bank statements could speak volumes.

Danny was known to have a passion for fast, custom-built cars well before he got into state-of-the art boats. He and Mary made frequent trips to Havana,Cuba on Pan American Airways – before and after the big fire burned down Galen Hall (PA) in 1963. They wintered in Miami, then went north to run the resort from about March through October. 2 years after the fire (which wasn’t its first), Danny sold off what remained of the 900+ acre compound. The resort was never rebuilt to its former grandeur, so it appears that Danny pocketed the insurance money and used that to build Galen Beach Resort (Miami).

Some other curious things: I mentioned the DuPont robbery in October of 1967 – which is still an active investigation. Well, Danny’s uncle (his father’s brother) was on board the USAT American Legion (during the return trip) when President Roosevelt sent the ship to Petsamo, Finland in 1939 on a rescue mission. Crown Princess Martha, her little ones, about 700+ other people of varying degrees of importance, and 1 stowaway returned to America. What does that have to do with DuPont, one might ask? Much of the DuPont coin collection originated with one of Tsar Nicholas’ cousins. His name escapes me at the moment, but this collection contained something like 150,000 catalogued (unique) coins and medals- which were valued at about $2-3 million in 1967. Although the Tsar’s cousin also died during the Bolshevik revolution, his wife and daughters escaped with the treasure – much of which was smuggled to the US under very clandestine circumstances. Danny’s family emigrated from Russia shortly before the Tsar fell from grace. And, as I recall, Danny’s uncle knew all about that collection – the vast majority of which remains missing TODAY. Where did uncle Harry go? Hmm. You’re going to make me dig again.

Father Horgan remains a bit of an enigma. He was a well-liked, all-star athlete in seminary school in Ireland. He came to the US in 1960 at the urging of a fellow priest. I remember reading the letter somewhere. Hmm. When Padraig signed his naturalization papers at Miami on February 21st of 1967, he asked that his name be changed from John Padraig Horgan to Sean Padraig Horgan. 10 months later he’s missing and never heard from again. Was there more to his relationship with Danny than a boat ride to view Christmas lights?

So, where I jumped off of this merry-go-round seems to be about when I was exploring potential aliases. Folks who adopted new identities in the pre-internet age usually retained their birth month and day, but changed up the year. Sometimes they retained the year and used a close relative’s birth month and day. Sam Burwick is a name that was on my radar since Danny’s full name was Daniel Samuel Burack. Padraig went by Patrick and Paddy. Sean/John Hogan is also on my list of names to explore.

Thanks for the jolt!

24 08 2021
Elizabeth Murphy

Michelle Fr. Horgan was my mom’s first cousin. Very personable and sensitive man. Not sure how you connect a name change (common) and a secret relationship with Danny. I believe the church was Saint Patrick’s in Miama, not sure how they would even know each other, unless the wife was Catholic. Again, he was personable and maybe referred to by others because he was a young, kind priest. Love your interest and research, would love to get in touch. Sally Dogneiri is my aunt and mom’s sister. I think it is strange that the DuPonts and Mafia neighbor were only “tied up” and Danny/Fr. Horgan were killed/disappeared, def. foul play, and perhaps an inside job by two-bit hired goons. Liz Murphy

17 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

Interesting that the Reading Eagle would publish my theory without an acknowledgement for the investigative reporter behind the story.

http://www.readingeagle.com/news/article/history-book-fate-of-ex-hotel-owner-remains-unexplained

17 12 2015
thewhistler77

First you should let them know they should amend that article or post to include you or credit you. Second I believe Sean to be the Irish equivalent of John in English, if that has any bearing on Fr. Horgan’s name change upon arrival in America. Last, it is fairly obvious SOMETHING was going on here and that it was most likely tied to Burack’s fast living and faster business deals. Could Fr. Horgan just been innocent in wrong place at wrong time?
Also, I read where the CG changed their story after searching a few days or when they called off the search. It seems they then said that the call from Burack was “strange” but would not elaborate. And they referred to the two men as “missing but not lost at sea”. Maybe they found our a few things and then dropped the case?

20 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

I emailed the author of the article in the Reading Eagle and he has not responded, even though I was magnanimous about the fact that my blog post is the ONLY information online that questions the validity of the Bermuda Triangle theory. I’ve yet to be able to locate the official CG report. It may be at NARA Miami, but I’d have to physically go there with a request to pull any information related to the vessel. Contact by email and phone has been unproductive thus far. So, what you’ve seen in newspaper articles seems to be the conclusion of their investigation – “missing but not lost at sea.” I have to believe, as you have also deduced, that the CG knew something else was afoot. Danny and Padraig could easily have taken that boat to another location, perhaps a boathouse or a marina. Whether or not a third party was involved is another question. Why would Danny have (reportedly) been so calm in his call to the CG if the Witchcraft was being hijacked? Could another vessel have arrived at Government Cut during that 19 minute window, secured lines, and towed them to another location without Miami CG being aware? Possible, but not very likely.

21 12 2015
thewhistler77

Yes not likely at all…and CG definitely figured more out than they admitted or released to the public…funny though that mo more was ever said or no one on the inside ever talked to a reporter even off the record…you would think that something more would have come to light

21 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

There was a reporter who worked at the Reading Eagle, Jerry Kobrin, who wrote many, many humorous and flattering stories about Daniel Burack. He’s the one who called Danny’s souped-up car the yellow “Studi-llac.” When Dan sold the PA property, their friendship continued. In August of 1966 (after Danny had already sold off his interest in Galen Beach), Jerry wrote an article for TV Guide about Pernell Roberts, aka Adam Cartwright of the Bonanza TV Show, while Pernell was hiding out at the Galen Beach Hotel. Pernell was a bit irritated when he said to Jerry, “I happen to like and trust Danny Burack, and that’s why you’re here. He said you were an okay guy.” Unfortunately, Jerry passed away – see obit: http://articles.latimes.com/1996-01-10/local/me-23172_1_daily-pilot
The obit isn’t entirely accurate. A son survives him. The kid is on my list of folks to contact since I’m hopeful that he may have retained all of his dad’s old notes. Yes, you would think someone would have written an opinion piece about the disappearance back then. Danny’s wife, Mary, doesn’t seem to have uttered a word. No obituary. No memorial. Nothing. I find that particularly curious since I have two great uncles who were lost at sea, one in 1898 and one in 1956. I have newspaper clippings, coast guard paperwork, and court documents from both cases. What wasn’t present in family documents or newspaper archives, I was able to locate at NARA. And NARA says they have nothing on the Witchcraft disappearance, Daniel Burack, or Padraig Horgan. Most curious indeed.

23 12 2015
thewhistler77

Hope u talk to son and see notes. I dont know this of course but to me it seems Danny lived a fast life which included some shady deals and shady characters and a lot of women. Many “society marriages” are a sham more about public appearance and money with both partners cheating and the nanny raising the kids etc…I get the feeling this was one especially since the wife never did anything nor said anything much after Dan disappeared and was not a grieving widow in the least. Did she do him in? Did she what happened if not and didnt care? Was she in on his disappearance and still had contact with hom after that night? No one seems to know. Can i be way off base about their marriage? Sure. But it still seems Dan played a little fast abd loose and may have gotten involved with the wrong people but again who knows??
I will say again i have no idea how Father Horgan would fit into this in any way.

21 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

Quick question, Whistler – since you seem to be a mystery/tragedy buff, do you ever do any investigative work or write about what you learn? A curious mind is a precious gift, even when it can sometimes feel like a bit of a curse.

23 12 2015
thewhistler77

Though they are tragic i dont think of myself drawn to tragedies. I am drawn by the mysterious and unknown and fascinated by Time. I separate that from the effect on the human beings involved on that level. Not unlike a detective or scientist maintaining a distance. However i never forget or not realize many of these events involve real people and lives.
No i have never done any investigative work nor written about specific events i have researched it is just as you allude to: fascination and a curious mind! I have books and in some events collect newspaper clippings or visit locations involved etc…but never beyond that. Hey maybe i will consider doing that for 2016!

23 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

As I said, a curious mind is a precious gift. You should definitely use your talents and put your thoughts into words in 2016!

Here’s an example of what you might stumble on: When I first started looking into the mysterious disappearance of Daniel Burack, I scanned through property records for Sunset Island #4. That’s how I found his neighbor, Saverio “Sam” Codomo. Sam’s son, Leonard, seems to corroborate your theories about Danny’s lifestyle. Check this out. There is a book, “American Desperado: My Life – from Mafia Soldier to Cocaine Cowboy to Secret Government Asset,” that speaks of Leonard and the Miami scene. https://books.google.com/books?id=6lhhjNqQIZMC&pg=PA271&lpg=PA271&dq=leonard+codomo+miami&source=bl&ots=W0XvVBfV5d&sig=7oFErZPUGgdLyiYBjRTtFvFGjyc&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwi7refF2_LJAhUJ_mMKHZaLDSEQ6AEINzAF#v=onepage&q=leonard%20codomo%20miami&f=false
Perhaps Danny and Padraig got wrapped up in this web?

23 12 2015
thewhistler77

Burack sure…but a priest? I don’t know maybe just a friend and an innocent victim? I will admit it is an odd friendship

28 12 2015
Michelle Merritt

I don’t know how Padraig got mixed up in it yet. I’m still trying to figure out what Danny was up to between the 1963 and the end of ’67.

29 12 2015
thewhistler77

Whatever it was I have the feeling it led to his downfall. Fascinating stuff keep me posted.

19 02 2016
michael burack

the court documents to Danny Burack is not all there, if you listen to the real tapes you can hear what he said when he called the Coast Guard what he seen out there the stuff that they took out when they put it to word form

19 02 2016
thewhistler77

Hello Michael!
Are you related to these Buracks?
If you are be great to hear your story!
Also I have heard what was said during the distress call, the actual words, have never been made public. A Coast Guard spokesman at the time I believe said it was a “strange” call. He also said he thought they were presumed “missing but not lost at sea”.

Whatever that means!

Hope you post soon!

23 02 2016
Michelle Merritt

Michael,
You are the most qualified to comment on this post, so please continue to weigh in. I emailed you and hope to hear back from you soon. Especially since I’ve developed a fondness for your parents, grandparents, and one of your uncles over the years. Your sister and I have exchanged a few messages, but she either didn’t have much to add or did not wish to. As you can see from the thread, Father Horgan’s family continues to wonder what happened. We all look forward to your reply.
Michelle

23 02 2016
thewhistler77

Hope he does! Would love to know the actual sos call and what the USCG really thought happened

24 08 2021
Elizabeth Murphy

Michelle, Michael and Mr. Burack, as soon as I read the DuPont Dynasty was involved, the CS backed off with no records, and a “strange” phone call….could not be more obvious. The Duponts of the world, the world financiers of big world government, run the show and can easily sweep this under the rug. Poor Fr. Horgan was probably just be-friending this family and trying to be helpful to a rich man with a problem, which was very much like him. Who ever paid the killers to do the job clearly did not care that an innocent priest’s life was taken.

23 02 2016
Michelle Merritt

No kidding. “What he seen out there” sounds interesting. Daniel Burack was certainly more prepared for foul weather than the crew of the El Faro, and the Witchcraft was much, much, much closer to shore. Michael, are you listening?

23 02 2016
thewhistler77

yeah hope he doesn’t drop that comment than disappear! It would be amazing to actually know exactly what was said and what the CG actually put down in their reports
Btw I can send you an amazing audio if you like

23 02 2016
Michelle Merritt

I’m hopeful that Michael is not offended by our speculation in any way. None of us can imagine the torture that the Burack and Horgan families have had to endure…because the not knowing is difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it first hand. Even when/if the truth is finally revealed… even if evidence offers a valid explanation, the why and feeling of what could I have done… lingers. You have my email address if you’d like to share the audio file. Thanks Whistler!

23 02 2016
thewhistler77

Hello!

Don’t know if you are interested but I thought you might be, seeing that like me you are a curious type. I have – like millions of others it seems – always had a fascination for the Edmund Fitzgerald, the “disappearance”, the storm, the whole story (like most the song drew me in first) and the timelessness of it. Here is the actual radio transmission from that night between the USCG and the captain of the Arthur Anderson, the last ship to hear from the Fitzgerald. It is a fascinating document to hear. I hope you do enjoy it!

Rob aka The Whistler77

[audio src="http://archive.lib.msu.edu/VVL/dbnumbers/DB7449.mp3" /]

On Mon, Feb 22, 2016 at 11:05 PM, Mkmerritts Blog wrote:

> Michelle Merritt commented: “I’m hopeful that Michael is not offended by > our speculation in any way. None of us can imagine the torture that the > Burack and Horgan families have had to endure…because the not knowing is > difficult to describe unless you’ve experienced it first hand. E” >

22 10 2017
Angela

I was waiting with my family for father Horgan to come and celebrate Christmas with us. My aunt was a nun at mercy hospital and father Horgan had been to my house many times I loved him ( I was 7 years old) we were devastated by the call we got that night telling us he was missing. My Aunt knew where he was going and when he was supposed to be at our house! We were waiting for him to show up to decorate the Christmas tree! I will never get over the loss or not knowing what happen to such an awesome and loving man! I love you Father Horgan and will never forget you my friend! Been years and I just wanted to put this out there so the world knows we lost a wonderful and loving man that night no matter what the really happened! Rest in peace!

23 02 2016
thewhistler77

I don’t think he is

23 02 2016
Michelle Merritt

Thanks. I listened to the El Faro calls too. Having been at sea for long stretches of time, sometimes in heavy seas, wondering if we’d lost anyone overboard while on bridge watch, these incidents fascinate me. I’ve heard the distress calls and scanned the seas for debris. In the middle of the night, my chief mate pulled a guy out of the water who’d been floating on an ice chest for 3 days. That was in the Gulf of Panama. It was just an accident that they found him…the bow lights were on because of fog and he floated by. Crazy.

17 04 2016
thewhistler77

Hello!
Been a while! This just crossed my mind for some reason the other day and I figured I would stop in to check things out. Any new information? Ever hear from Michael again or any family members? Still find this mystery fascinating.

24 10 2016
Michael Burack

sorry it’s been awhile since I’ve looked at the web site. I just want to know why are you interested in this.

24 10 2016
thewhistler77

Hi Michael!

I cannot speak for Michelle but as for me I have always been fascinated by unsolved mysteries, cold cases and things that make a time or place from the past come alive. I am also interested in the paranormal, near-death experiences, UFOs, etc…I have read about and watched shows on and researched many of these over the years.

As for the disappearance of the Witchcraft and the mysteries surrounding it it is just another one I find fascinating. I came across the story in an old book about the Bermuda Triangle and came across Michelle’s blog while doing a google search on it.

I do hope you will share with us what it is you know if you see fit to do so.

26 10 2016
Michelle K Merritt

Hi Michael,

It’s great to hear from you again! I’m half way around the world in the Republic of Seychelles right now, so I’m catching up on your messages. I’ll answer each comment as I go. My interest in Danny’s disappearance began while I was researching two of my great uncles who were lost at sea. I was able to find answers to those, but Danny? His disappearance does not make sense – particularly to someone who has spent years at sea. And the Witchcraft was not “at sea.”

Michelle

11 03 2018
thewhistler77

Michelle!

Been waaaay too long! How are you? Hope all is well. Still working on this case? I need an update! Been meaning to come back here and of course kept forgetting or putting it off. Would love to do some more “sleuthing” with you! Hope all good and hear from you soon

24 10 2016
Michael Burack

i see that michelle tried to get with my aunt she does not like talking about it. This is Michael Burack the 2nd, the son of Michael Burack.

25 10 2016
thewhistler77

Was your father Daniel’s brother? I am sorry I am not sure who Michael Sr is.
As for your aunt she has every right to not speak about it as do you and the entire family. Whatever you share or do not is a family matter.

26 10 2016
Michelle K Merritt

I did speak to your aunt, and as you said, she did not want to talk about it.

25 10 2016
Michael Burack

Daniel S. Burack had a daughter and a son. The son name Michael g Burack had two son, one of them is Michael g Burack 2nd is me. Daniel S. Burack is my grandfather.

25 10 2016
thewhistler77

Ok now I’ve got it! And i guess the aunt Michelle tried to contact was his daughter.
I appreciate you responding to my questions. I do understand this is a painful family matter.

25 10 2016
michael burack

if you got any questions, i am happy to answer them. about 4 month ago, my dad found a old painting of Daniel S. Burack. it was made about 4-3 years before he disappeared, on the painting it showed that he was on the Witchcraft by buoy number 7 and it was night time. when he disappeared it was night time, and he was on his boat called the Witchcraft, by buoy number 7. i don’t know that was just a coincidence or what.

26 10 2016
Michelle K Merritt

Hi again Michael,
Your grandfather was Daniel Samuel Burack. You are in the unique position of being one of the few people who could help crack this case. Why does the painting note his disappearance? I have other questions, but hesitate to ask them in a public forum. Please email me. I’ll be back in the USA on November 1st and will gladly share all of the information that I’ve compiled. We can talk by phone then too.
Michelle

29 10 2016
thewhistler77

Glad this has happened! Fascinated to hear more and see if we can put this mystery yo rest

4 11 2016
Michelle Merritt

Hey Michael,
I’m back from the other side of the world and would love to talk to you! I have a ton of information on Daniel’s family, but there are gaping holes between 1964 and his disappearance. Your family is likely in possession of random documents that may seem irrelevant, but are NOT. Please email michellemerritt@msn.com. I’ll send you my phone number, then we can talk about what may have really happened to your grandfather.
Michelle

18 11 2016
Michelle Merritt

Hey Michael, this is Michelle. Your grandfather was quite a guy. Have you heard the stories about how he drove home on the weekends to work at Galen Hall? Or the one about his bright yellow “studillac”? Jerry Kobrin absolutely loved Danny Burack!

27 01 2017
Mindy Bayarsky

Hi
My daughter is dating Daniel Burack’s grandson, of the same name.
I’ve always found this tale intriguing since Danny told me about his granfather. Especially since I’ve been fascinated with tales of the Bermuda Triangle my whole life. Btw, there is a hotel in Turkey named Galen Beach Hotel.
Hmmmm…..interesting don’t you think?

30 01 2017
Michelle Merritt

Hi Mindy,
Where is the Galen Beach Hotel in Turkey that you refer to? There are several. Perhaps that could provide another clue. Based on the volumes of documentation that I’ve accumulated, the Bermuda Triangle was not a factor in Daniel Burack’s disappearance. I’d be happy to share any and all information with Danny. In fact, I’d be overjoyed to have his participation in solving the mystery. As you can see from the old blog posts, so would the family of Father Horgan. Please have Danny email me. I’ll provide credentials, phone number, etc.
Thanks for posting!
Michelle Merritt

2 04 2017
rhawes73

Hi, Michelle. I’ve been interested in the Witchcraft mystery ever since reading about it in Richard Winer’s “Devil’s Triangle” book when I was a teenager, and found your speculation intriguing. Have you made any more progress with your investigation into this matter?

3 04 2017
Michelle Merritt

I have not uncovered anything new yet. Perhaps this summer when I’m physically in Florida to do more research.

21 05 2017
thewhistler77

I Michelle and all! been away a while but back and still fascinated by this most unusual case! yes Michelle hope you can dig deeper soon! I will send you an email – hope you are doing well

11 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

Hey Whistler!
I have not worked on the case for a while. However, I have solved 5 adoptions since I last worked on this. One of those was extremely rewarding because the adoptee was able to speak with his 83 year old birth mother and one sibling. Let’s get back to sleuthing the Burack case!!!
Michelle

11 03 2018
Robert Bermudez

what do you mean about the adoptons? what sort of thing is it you do? sounds wonderful would love to hear all about it!

22 05 2017
Michelle K Merritt

I’m on this side of the world and am making plans to visit Florida. We shall see what I can uncover there!

22 05 2017
thewhistler77

cool! I am planning to travel to Ecuador this Saturday

9 03 2018
Alyn Rumbold

I found both this blog and the entire dialogue above very intriguing. I first heard about the Witchcraft disappearance decades ago when I was a kid watching a movie about the Bermuda Triangle. Over the many years since I had come to realize that virtually all of the “mystery” surrounding the Triangle was anything but (thank you, Larry Kusche). However, this one remained one of the only really baffling incidents for me. That said, I agree with you — the notion that there was some sort of paranormal cause behind this seems ludicrous, and it’s refreshing to see this case written about by someone other than some breathlessly credulous website devoted to the Triangle.

Personally, these days I tend to adhere to the old Sherlock Holmes maxim of “when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth.” I tend to agree with some of what has come before up here — the likelihood that the Witchcraft was hijacked and towed away from Buoy 7 in the intervening 19 minutes from when Mr. Burack radioed the Coast Guard to when they arrived on the scene seems highly improbable indeed. Certainly the boat did not sink, based on all accounts I’ve seen, and it seems very clear that, while Mr. Burack indicated that the boat was crippled (supposedly due to collision with a submerged object) and required assistance, he was not in a state of panic as he might have been if something truly dire was taking place. Of course, these are some of the elements that heighten the mysterious quality of the incident and make for fascinating reading. However, when all of the “can’t have happened” elements are weeded out, I keep coming back to the same conclusion — the Witchcraft was not at Buoy 7 at Government Cut when the USCG arrived, because it never was at Government Cut. THAT is where they mystery truly begins.

Here’s another interesting note — Wikipedia has a page entitled “List of people who disappeared mysteriously,” arranged chronologically and with many links to other related Wiki pages. It is an extensive list, with both famous and relatively obscure incidents included. However, there is no mention at all of Mr. Dan Burack and/or Father Padraig Horgan, which seems a bit odd given the attention they received in books about the Bermuda Triangle. Furthermore, even the Wiki page “List of Bermuda Triangle incidents” makes no mention of the Witchcraft or its passengers, Admittedly, it is not quite so exhaustive of a list, but considering how celebrated this event was by Triangle enthusiasts back in the day, I find it rather curious that it is not mentioned in modern references. Does somebody know something nowadays that wasn’t known then? I’d certainly be interested to hear!

9 03 2018
Alyn Rumbold

BTW, I would love to someday see a more in-depth investigation of this mystery put out in written form, and you seem to have made a considerable amount of headway in this direction. For inspiration, I’ll mention a couple of other rather famous and tantalizing mysteries — the disappearance of cadet Richard Cox from the campus of West Point in 1950, and the Dyatlov Pass incident in the Ural Mountains in 1959. Both of them became the subjects of very well-researched and absorbing books, “Oblivion” (Harry Mahaifer, 1996) in the first case, and “Dead Mountain” (Donnie Eichar, 2014) in the second. Don’t know what kind of free time you have on your hands, but hey, I’d pay for whatever you ended up writing. 😉

11 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

Hello Alyn,

This case is one of several that I hope to eventually crack.

Each branch of the tale leads to more intrigue. Example #1: Truena Gueddes Batcheller (the young wife of George Clinton Batchellor – who was the vice president of the original Galen Hall Company) loaned money to Danny and his mother after Emanuel Burack died. Truena’s nephew sued Daniel Burack after the Galen Hall fire, but paperwork for the loan was missing. As I recall, the balance of the loan was in the neighborhood of $80,000. Example #2: Saverio “Sam” Codomo. This mafioso and his family have their fingerprints on Miami real estate deals that seem to indicate he and Danny Burack were well acquainted. And remember, Sam’s house on Sunset Island was robbed. At gunpoint. And gold coins were reportedly taken. Example #3: Willis DuPont and the infamous coin robbery. There are many, many more, but all of these people and events seem intertwined with Daniel Burack’s disappearance. Every time I pull on the tread of a HOW, the garment unravels in an unexpected direction.

As far as Father Horgan is concerned, I only have theories at this point. The hospital construction is one of them. Padraig may have been trying to mediate an agreement and ended up being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Michelle

11 03 2018
Alyn Rumbold

One question: Larry Kusche, the author of “The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved,” covered this case in what I thought was a somewhat cursory manner. He contends, however, that Mr. Burack, contrary to the Triangle “legend,” did not actually say where the boat was when he radioed the USCG — the various writers added Buoy 7 to their versions of the story to add drama. This doesn’t make much sense to me, though. Why would he have radioed for assistance but then not given his position in order for help to find them?

Is this detail accurate in your understanding of the case? Did he, or did he not, indicate that the Witchcraft was disabled at Government Cut when he communicated with the Coast Guard?

Kusche also contends that the weather was rougher than the typical story line has suggested, that the wind was blowing hard enough to create a choppy, whitecap sea that would have made spotting a white boat difficult (especially at night). It does not explain, though, how a widespread search in the following days would have failed to spot a boat that was essentially unsinkable. While I respected his book in general, I thought his treatment of this particular incident was a little too brusque and concise and ignored some important details.

11 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

Other than Kusche’s brief statement of events, all other reports site buoy 7 at Government Cut as the location that Daniel Burack radioed in to the USCG. Comments made by Daniel’s grandson, Michael Burack, seem to corroborate this location. He has not responded to repeated attempts to speak with him about any information the family has.

The mariner in me does not believe that someone with Daniel’s sea experience, in a vessel equipped such as the Witchcraft, in the circumstances as reported, could sink or vanish from that location in 19 minutes without leaving a trace.

Government Cut is only 22′ deep. If the Witchcraft was at risk of moving toward open sea, why didn’t Daniel just drop an anchor while waiting for the USCG? If it were me, the cabin lights would have been on and I would have been hailing all of my buddies with boats, which Daniel most certainly had. The popularity of viewing Christmas lights leads me to believe that any number of vessels could have reached him within those 19 minutes. But who? And why no additional radio communication? And if someone did reach him, why didn’t the USCG meet them somewhere inbound?

Those are a few of the questions that haunt me. Once again, I am reviewing my notes. Perhaps I’ll have a breakthrough.

11 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

BTW, I also disagree with Kusche’s weather report, as does NOAA and newspaper records. The sea didn’t get really choppy until 6 the next morning.

12 03 2018
Alyn Rumbold

These were most of my thoughts as well, especially the likelihood that Burack would have dropped anchor as soon as his boat was disabled. As much as I thought Kusche did a good job of discrediting some of the more sensational accounts that seem to make up the bulk of the Triangle legend, he seemed to give this one very short shrift indeed — it really didn’t seem as if he did his homework. Too bad, too, because I think if he had really wanted to he could have turned this one incident into a book of its own that would have made for very interesting reading.

12 03 2018
Alyn Rumbold

If a premise here is that Dan Burack may have radioed the USCG to tell them he was at Buoy 7 as a diversion when in fact he was not at Government Cut, and I agree, then the next logical question is: where actually was the Witchcraft? Was it still at the slip at Burack’s house? Did anyone actually see the boat leaving with Burack and Horgan aboard (I’ve never read whether eyewitnesses actually saw them depart)?

I confess (and apologies to those of Father Horgan’s relatives who have commented on here), I had even idly supposed that possibly he had more to do with this case than meets the eye. Since he was a relative newcomer from Ireland, and since the possibility exists that Burack’s radio message was a ruse, then was there the possibility that they had both planned a clandestine voyage with a different purpose and wanted to get the Coast Guard out of the way? I had toyed with the idea that possibly Father Horgan had some kind of unrevealed ties to the Irish Republican Army and that he had perhaps involved Dan Burack in some sort of lucrative but dangerous gunrunning expedition, but admittedly that’s a pretty wild speculation. Again, no offense intended — just grasping at straws.

13 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

I’m inclined to agree that the Witchcraft may never have been at Government Cut. Eyewitness accounts? None that I know of so far. That was one of the reasons why I mapped all of the homes and channels on the Sunset Islands. Bridge clearances and channel depths matter for egress and ingress. I even went so far as to track property records and identify every resident who lived there at the time – then contacted the HOA to see if they still had meeting notes. No dice there.

The gunrunning thing popped up on my radar too. However, I don’t think Father Horgan would have been involved in that. The Catholic hospital property deal seems more likely. Jeezuz. I really need to write a narrative about how Sam Codomo and everyone else was involved to help me see what I missed.

This is from my notes – Burach [sic] misspelling intentionally retained:

“February 2. 1967 – DADE COUNTY – Bulkhead Line. Presented for approval was an amended bulkhead line adopted by the City of Miami Beach by Ordinance No. 1597 on September 21, 1966, located on the east shore of Biscayne Bay in Section 33, Township 53 South, Range 42 East, Dade County. A hospital was proposed to be constructed inside the bulkhead line. All required exhibits were furnished and transcript of the local hearing showed that five proponents appeared and that seven people opposed the change of bulkhead line. Mr. Jack Courshon objected for himself and as attorney on behalf of Sunset Islands 3 and 4 Property Owners Association, Inc., citing traffic bottlenecks now which would be increased by the proposed hospital plan.

Florida Board of Conservation had no objection to, or recommendation for, the bulkhead line along the heavily dredged and filled bayside of Miami Beach. Staff recommended approval of the amended bulkhead line.

Mr. Daniel Burach, president of the above mentioned association, was present on this date to present objections.

Mr. Williams said he understood that the extension was not essential to the building of the hospital, would damage the area where many expensive residences had been built with the thought in mind that there would be open water access to the bay there and not the proposed fill.

The Director said Mr. Burach had expressed the concern of owners that the bulkhead line extension might be a precedent, that the boatworks might also wish to extend its area.”

And just for your information, I have background on nearly everyone mentioned in every newspaper article, property record, phone book, etc. This tale is rife with jewelry heists, mafia connections, you name it.

I will reiterate that I do not believe that Father Horgan was part of that activity. Based on what I’ve been able to learn about him, it seems logical that he was trying to mediate the property dispute so that the hospital could be completed.

13 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

One other reason for Father Horgan to be involved: Daniel’s family was Jewish, but Mary (his wife) was raised Catholic.

13 03 2018
Alyn Rumbold

You’ve been very thorough indeed! I still think you should seriously consider putting this into book form, or teaming up with someone who can take all of your research and do it for you, a la Harry Maihafer and Marshall Jacobs with “Oblivion.” It would be fascinating.

So, at the end of the day, what is your theory? Where did Dan Burack, Father Horgan, and the Witchcraft actually go? And why?

13 03 2018
Michelle Merritt

My plan has long been to write a book about Daniel’s disappearance. What I need are first person interviews. Once all sources in print seemed exhausted, I started searching for anyone who may have known him. Mary (his wife) passed away. His daughter does not want to talk about it. His son has not responded to repeated contact attempts. Although his grandson has commented here, my attempts to reach him have been unsuccessful as well. Jerry Kobrin, the reporter friend, has passed away – his son is on my contact list, as are a list of classmates, employees, and business associates. Once I’ve dedicated more time to that aspect, I can get to the business of writing a narrative.

Interestingly, Father Horgan’s family and friends remain eager for answers. And I remain hopeful that I can find some closure for them.

I tend to be fact-centric with a good gut instinct. At the end of the day? The sun hasn’t set on one theory yet.

29 06 2019
Michelle Merritt

6-29-2019: I will be in Miami filming a segment on the Bermuda Triangle next week. We will be exploring the facts surrounding the disappearance of Daniel Burack and Father Padraig Horgan. If you or anyone you know has a personal connection to either, please contact me. Let’s solve this case together!

20 12 2020
Rutger

Hi Michelle,

I don’t know much about this case, but I came across the episode in which you shared your theory. Just wanted to weigh in a bit.

I agree that the Witchcraft was most probably not out at ‘sea’ when the distress call came in at the Miami Coast Guard. There are too many factors that don’t add up and you would expect something to be found. I also wonder why Daniel Burack and Padraig Horgan would be out together to watch Christmas lights. It doesn’t make much sense to me. Were they close friends or was there a love affair?

I also have doubts about a theory in which Burack and Padraig Horgan or either one of them staged these events. They seem an odd combination and one has to wonder why they would want to disappear together. Were they involved in fraud in some way? Or were they in love?

To me it seems there was foul play involved. Someone else staged these events and my instinct tells me that both men were probably already dead by the time the distress call came in. I have no way of knowing, but this seems to be the most logical explanation. It was a cover-up.

People don’t just disappear and stay off radar for the next fifty years. Especially not two people that seem to lack a specific bond.

Maybe Burack was involved with shady business deals and Horgan could have been collateral damage.

Just some thoughts.

Greetings from the Netherlands.

20 03 2021
Don

Hi Michelle, would it be worth any $$$$ for me to tell you where the Witchcraft is laying on the bottom. In the 70’s I was a avid spear fisherman. I found the Witchcraft laying upside down in aprox. 70 ft. of water off of Haulover inlet. There was a big hole aprox. 18″high x 36″long on the bottom of the hull. The boat I found was a twin engine inboard, straight drive. I remember because we tried to get the Props off, but couldn’t. So, Bermuda Triangle, I don’t think so.

22 03 2021
Don

I sent you a comment on the Witchcraft a few days ago, that I thought I knew where it was. Sorry, in hindsight I could be wrong about that. The boat we found might have been the Tomorow 2 (two/too-?) . After all it was 50 years ago. Sorry for the hype

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s