State Police Say Kayaker a Killer

Arrest woman who survived reported accident

By Kevin E. Foley

The 35-year-old woman who had reportedly survived a kayaking accident in the Hudson River near Philipstown 11 days ago (April 19) stands accused of murdering the companion she claimed had fallen over board because of rough waves.

On Thursday afternoon (April 30) New York State Police announced that Angelika Graswald was charged with the second-degree murder of her fiancé Vincent Viafore, 46, of Poughkeepsie. The couple was living together at the time of the incident.

Angelika Graswald

Angelika Graswald

Initially Graswald had stated that the couple had gone kayaking on a Sunday evening as the sun was setting. She told police they encountered choppy water, struggled to maintain stability and eventually their kayaks capsized. Graswald reported that Viafore went under the waves and did not re-emerge, while a passing boater rescued her.

Graswald told police she was wearing a life jacket but that Viafore was not.

Subsequently police and Coast Guard divers searched the river for Viafore’s body for several days.

Police say they took Graswald into custody on Bannerman’s Island just north of Cold Spring where she was placing flowers on April 29. They would not discuss whether or not she had been under active surveillance.

They also indicated they believed Viafore’s body entered the water near the island.

The state police now say inconsistencies in Graswald’s statements, which they say grew through repeated interviews, caused them to believe she was directly responsible for Viafore’s demise and that they had sufficient cause to arrest and charge her.

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler concurred with the police conclusion and said the case would be presented to a grand jury for an indictment. He acknowledged that a murder case without a body was “a little more complicated” but expressed confidence that proceeding was the correct course.

Police said Graswald was arraigned before a judge in New Windsor and remanded to the Orange County jail without bail.

Vincent Viafore with Graswald

Vincent Viafore with Graswald

Police spokesman Maj. Patrick Regan and the prosecutor would not say exactly what in Graswald’s statements led them to believe she was a murderer. But Regan said, “We believe we know what happened.” They also would not speak to a possible motive for the alleged killing.

Regan said he did not believe there would be further arrests.

He repeatedly emphasized that the investigation into the matter was ongoing and that the search for Viafore’s body would continue. Both police and the district attorney asked for the public, especially “hikers, boaters and fishermen,” to be on the lookout for the body and to call the state police with any other information they might have.

According to police Graswald is not a United States citizen. She holds a Latvian passport.

Police did acknowledge they believed Viafore was an experienced kayaker familiar with the river.

The initial reports of the incident had raised the concerns of local kayak enthusiasts who worried the pair had entered the river unprepared for eventualities of weather and water temperature. The Paper was preparing to run an article on kayak safety when the news of the Graswald arrest broke. The article will run at a later date.

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