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DA: Woman accused of killing kayaker fiance confessed

May 13, 2015
This undated photo provided by the New York State Police shows Angelika Graswald. Graswald, whose fiance has been missing since a kayaking trip on April 19, 2015, has been charged with murder, authorities said Thursday, April 30. (New York State Police via AP)
This undated photo provided by the New York State Police shows Angelika Graswald. Graswald, whose fiance has been missing since a kayaking trip on April 19, 2015, has been charged with murder, authorities said Thursday, April 30. (New York State Police via AP)

GOSHEN, New York (AP) — A Latvian expatriate accused of killing her fiance while out paddling on the Hudson River admitted to tampering with his kayak and later confessed “it felt good knowing he would die,” a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Angelika Graswald, 35, has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the death of Vincent Viafore in choppy, chilly water on the evening of April 19. Police say he died 50 miles (80 kilometers) north of New York City near Bannerman Island, a scenic ruin near the east shore where Graswald volunteered as a gardener.

Viafore, 46, was not wearing a life jacket and his body hasn’t been found.

Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said at a bail hearing Wednesday that Graswald felt trapped and stood to benefit by $250,000 from life insurance policies. Mohl did not detail how Graswald tampered with her fiance’s kayak but said it filled with water and capsized. Viafore held onto his boat for 5 to 10 minutes, but Graswald called police some 20 minutes after his kayak capsized. Witnesses say she intentionally capsized her own kayak, Mohl said.

Graswald was rescued by another boater and treated for hypothermia.

She later told investigators that she felt relief and “it felt good knowing he would die,” Mohl said.

The judge set bail at $3 million cash.

After the hearing, defense attorney Richard Portale noted the language barrier between Graswald and investigators. He said he would look into whether her statements were voluntary.

Since her arrest almost two weeks ago, those who know Graswald have been trying to square the fun-loving woman they knew with the killer described by authorities.

“The bubbly, bouncy little ballerina girl had a dark side,” said Mike Colvin, a disc jockey in Poughkeepsie she lived with from November 2008 to June 2010. Still, he never saw Graswald act in a way that suggested violence.

Graswald could walk into a room full of strangers and know everyone’s name by the time she left, Colvin said. But he said he also had authority issues and could make unwise snap decisions when angry. She had run through two marriages and a string of jobs by her mid-30s. The impulsiveness apparently contributed to her checkered job history at restaurants and other businesses.

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Associated Press researcher Barbara Sambriski in New York contributed to this report. Hill contributed from Albany, New York.

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Follow Michael Hill on Twitter at https://twitter.com/MichaelTHill

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