A woman who told police that her fiance had been thrown into the Hudson River while they were kayaking has now been charged with his murder—even though his body still hasn't been recovered.
Angelika Graswald, 35, says she was kayaking with her husband, Vincent Viafore, 46, on April 19th. They were paddling in the Hudson River near Newbergh when Viafore's kayak supposedly overturned around 7:30 p.m. The couple had apparently been to Bannerman's Island and were going back to Cornwall. The conditions were very bad for kayaking, with strong winds and rough water.
According to WCBS 2's account at the time, "Viafore, who was not wearing a flotation device, was unable to get back to his kayak." [He was reportedly a "good" swimmer.] "Meanwhile, authorities said Graswald called 911 to report the incident, but while trying to help Viafore, she fell out of her own kayak. State police said a boater located and rescued Graswald from the water. Graswald, who was wearing a life-preserver, was treated and released from a local hospital for hypothermia, police said."
Both kayaks were recovered, but searchers could not find Viafore, even after days of looking. Graswald told News 12 after his disappearance, "I saw him struggling a little bit, he was trying to figure out how to paddle the waves…because they were getting crazy... And then I just saw him flip... He said, 'I don't think I'm gonna make it,' and I said ‘What are you talking about? Of course you are.'" She also said, "He kept, like, watching me, and I kept watching him," and claims she called out, "Just hold on, just hold on!”
But Graswald, a Latvian national, was taken into custody yesterday: The NY Times reports, "[Authorities said] the break in the case came on Wednesday, when they questioned Ms. Graswald on Bannerman’s Island, where she had gone to lay flowers, and decided they had probable cause to arrest her."
State police Major Patrick Regan said, "Initially she was believed to be the survivor of a tragic accident. Trying to piece together exactly where the best places to try to locate him in the river were and what may have led to what occurred, some inconsistencies in the accounts that she gave of those last minutes led investigators to be suspicious.” He added, "She made statements that implicated herself in this crime. There’s still a lot of work to be done."
According to the Journal News, "Graswald confirmed to the Poughkeepsie Journal earlier this month that she was previously married, and that her maiden name is Lipska, the name she goes by on her Facebook page."
However, a friend of Viafore's, Kimberley Popovich, spoke to the Times and "said she was not sure that Mr. Viafore had known of her prior marriage. She said he was taken by her, in part because she was 11 years younger."
Two months ago they had traveled to Eastern Europe.
Beside a photo posted to Mr. Viafore’s Facebook page on Jan. 26, of the couple kissing on a balcony in front of a golden sunset, Mr. Viafore wrote: “The wedding’s going to be in Europe on the Baltic Sea, but we plan to do a Hudson River Cruise Party with whatever friends want to party with us!”
But since his disappearance, Ms. Popovich said she recalled clues that something was off about her. Mr. Viafore, who held a well-paying job as a project manager, had been supporting her since she quit her job as a bartender. And she said the story of a reckless kayaking trip was out of character for Mr. Viafore.
“Even though he had that side of him that was kind of an adrenaline person, he always took precautions about himself,” Ms. Popovich said. “When this story came out that he was on the Hudson at 7:30 at night in those choppy waters, 30 degrees, it just didn’t jibe with me.”
Graswald, on April 20, had posted on Facebook, "Please, keep your prayers for Vince. Miracles ARE possible. The authorities are doing everything they can." This past Monday, she wrote, "Those we love don’t go away, they walk beside us every day. Unseen, unheard but always near. Still loved, still missed and very dear." Now, Cornwall residents tell WCBS 2, "It didn’t add up. From day one I thought it had to be a murder myself. I really did," and "She tied a brick to him, I betcha. He had a weight on him. She said, ‘Hold on to this, I’ll be right back.'"
Authorities did not mention what a possible motive could be. Police do think that Viafore's body is in the water, and Orange County DA David Hoover said, "Prosecuting a case without a body? It’s been done in this county before, it’s been done across the state of New York and it’s been done across the United States."
Graswald is being held without bail.