New York Woman Arrested In Alleged Murder of Fiance During Kayak Trip

27CD411300000578-0-image-a-9_1430424593980There is a tragic case out of New York that has the makings of a controversial murder prosecution. The defendant in the case is Angelika Graswald, who is accused of killing her fiance, Vincent Viafore, on a kayaking trip on the Hudson river. The police believe that Graswald, who has posted regularly pictures of the couple and comments since Viafore’s disappearance, killed Viafore in a faked boating accident. Viafore’s body has never been found. In addition to the absence of a body, there is no direct evidence of murder revealed publicly. Police are citing inconsistencies in Graswald’s account as well as critical diary entries.

Graswald, a Latvian national of Russian descent, was was working as a bartender when she met Viafore a couple years earlier. She was divorced from her first husband in 2009 and, according to news reports, Viafore (a successful project manager) had been supporting her. Viafore was 11 years older.

Graswald, 35, said that the two were kayaking in the river off Cornwall-On-Hudson, near West Point, when Viafore ran into trouble and fell into the river. Even though both are experienced water enthusiasts, he wasn’t wearing a life vest. She said that she tried to help him but that she then fell in the river and was separated from him. She was rescued later and called 911.

2835EC6800000578-3064520-image-m-19_1430503341278It is also odd that an experienced kayaker would not only fail to have on a vest but prove unable to either recover from a flip or hold on to the kayak. Graswald said “I saw him struggling a little bit. He was trying to figure out how to paddle the waves. And then I just saw him flip, right in front of me.” This concern makes the recovery of the body all the more important to determine the cause of death and whether, if found in the water, there was water in the lungs (indicating that he was alive when he went into the water).

Police say that Graswald met inconsistent statements and “implicated herself in the crime.” They arrested her after taking her to the island for one last account of the events of that day, but it is not clear what implicated her in second-degree murder.

2835E7A200000578-3064520-image-a-17_1430503296930What is interesting is the importance of diary entries by Graswald. She had written in her journal that Viafore liked rough sex and was pressuring her into having threesomes. She allegedly added that these incidents had made her wish him dead. She insisted that these entries were dated and written in a passing period in the relationship. It is indeed odd that a woman who allegedly planned a murder would leave such incriminating statements in a journal, though such mistakes have been made in past cases. There is also the curious disconnect with the image of a gold-digger who did not wait to marry the victim before doing him in — leaving her with no assets from the estate. Accordingly, this would have to be a murder out of anger, which may reflect the second-degree rather than a premeditated first-degree claim (though that can change).

27CD411800000578-0-image-a-11_1430424604498As has become common in murder cases, we have the accused posting pictures and comments on the case — a nightmare for defense attorneys. In this case, Graswald has posted romantic pictures while, soon after the disappearance, asking rescuers not to take any unnecessary risks: “Miracles ARE possible. The authorities are doing everything they can . . .” and “We do not need anyone else getting hurt, as it is very dangerous out there, especially without daylight. Please, no questions at this point, we’re doing everything we can. We will find him.”

One witness who has been identified has said that he saw both Viafore and Graswald on the island with his telescope from his home on the water.

2835E7A600000578-3064520-image-a-21_1430503553009Without the body or other direct form of evidence, this could come down to circumstantial evidence and a question of credibility. Often defense counsel avoids putting a defendant on the stand to minimize risk, but the diary entries add considerable pressure for the jury to hear from the accused. There is always a concern that an accent or limited English can undermine the witness in such a case. There is also the grueling cross examination that comes with any inconsistent statements made to police.

39 thoughts on “New York Woman Arrested In Alleged Murder of Fiance During Kayak Trip”

  1. Breaking news:

    The body of Vincent was found and recovered from Hudson River. Wearing same clothes at time of murder or mishap.

  2. @bam bam

    Thank you!!! I am glad you liked them. It took me a minute to figure out the second video was not serious. But when the pads came out, ROTFLMAO!

    BTW, did you see that story today on Legal Insurrection about Columbia saying Ovid’s Metamorphosis needed “trigger warnings”??? OMG, that is truly bizarre.

    Plus, and this is really me just being a poetry-nazi, but I rushed the above one because I was trying to put some cabbage on for supper, sooo I edited it to scan better. I sooo wanted to call it “Nyet Neutrality”, but that didn’t really fit. Anyway, :

    Rushin’ To The Altar??? (2.0)
    An IrishRussian Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Beware of “Natasha” and “Tanya”!
    I tell you, they’re trying to con ya’!
    They will come by Fedex,
    You might get you some sex,
    But, they’ll clean out your bank—Do svidaniya!!!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  3. Squeeky

    Lol! Your poems are the highlight of this blog.

    Thought that the above videos may bring a little humor to a sad and unfortunate story. Couldn’t help but think of Angelika, our Latvian maiden, when I watched them.

  4. @bam bam

    Russian mail order brides??? Oh, I pity the poor American dudes who seek happiness from over the seas! Sooo, here is an Irish Poem I just wrote for them!

    Rushin’ To The Altar???
    An IrishRussian Poem by Squeeky Fromm

    Oh, beware of “Natasha” and “Tanya”!
    I tell you, they’re just trying to con ya’!
    They’ll arrive by Fedex,
    You might get you some sex,
    But, they’ll clean out your bank—Do svidaniya!!!

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  5. DBQ: “AND…..looking at the photo of the area around the island where she said that he capsized, it looks like they were paddling in a bath tub and not in a river with rapids.

    I don’t buy her story at all.”

    The Hudson isn’t “a bathtub” but it is open water. It’s quite large and subject to high winds and waves. It’s certainly possible to get knocked over and not be able to get back into the kayak. What we know about this case (water temperature, twilight, lack of a life vest and immersion protection) increases the probability greatly.

    What makes the case odd is them going out thusly in the first place.

    The air temperature in Poughkeepsie was around 55′ at 7:30 (kinda cool for such a trip at that time if day).

  6. In the picture of the yellow kayak, the paddle is right/left reversed from the correct position. Not a big deal but not an indication of much experience.

  7. On 4/19, sunset was at 7:38 pm. Water temperature in the Hudson at Poughkeepsie was around 50 (cold). And the water was rough? And no life jacket? And it seems they weren’t dressed for immersion (with a wetsuit, for instance).

    That combination doesn’t indicate careful, experienced kayakers.

    The Hudson has a current but it’s not “swift water” there.

  8. I wonder if they charged her sooner than they ordinarily would have because they feared that as a Latvian national, she would be a greater flight risk.

  9. Great poem, Squeek. It’s nice to have some women here w/ wit and humor.

  10. For those who like love boat accident investigations, here’s an old time favorite:

    Natalie Wood Death Investigation: Robert Wagner Murder Charges Unlikely.

    But at the time, police said Wagner, 85, was not a suspect, and Natalie’s sister, Lana Wood, told then-CNN host Piers Morgan:
    “I can’t imagine that he (Wagner) purposely would have done anything to hurt Natalie. However, I know things happen when there is too much drinking and fighting.”

  11. @George

    LOL! Yes, it has been 5 years or so. But I have enough bad memories to last a lifetime. Which, the one before the last one. . .oh never mind. TMI.

    Squeeky Fromm
    Girl Reporter

  12. Squeekster,

    I have to challenge your “expert” status.

    Did you not recently state that it has been 5 years?

  13. I think those may have been the last words this poor guy ever heard.

  14. I’m pretty sure we all have heard histrionic people cry out, “You’re dead to me!”

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