Kayaker’s body found; fiancee is charged with murder

Associated Press

Goshen, N.Y. — The body of a missing kayaker has been found three weeks after his fiancee was charged with killing him by tampering with his boat on an outing to a scenic island in the Hudson River, prosecutors said Tuesday.

After a fisherman found a body in the water Saturday near the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, authorities identified the remains as those of 46-year-old Vincent Viafore.

Viafore vanished April 19 near Bannerman Island, 50 miles north of New York City, in what fiancee Angelika Graswald reported as an accident. She said his kayak capsized in choppy, chilly water while he wasn’t wearing a life jacket, and she was unable to save him. Graswald, 35, was rescued from the water by another boater and treated for hypothermia.

But the story soon took a startling turn. Less than two weeks later, Graswald was charged with murder. Prosecutors said she wanted out of their relationship — and wanted Viafore’s $250,000 in life insurance.

“She felt trapped, and it was her only way out,” Orange County Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said at a court hearing this month.

Graswald admitted tampering with Viafore’s kayak and later confessed “it felt good knowing he would die,” Mohl said. The fiancee didn’t call 911 for 20 minutes after his kayak overturned, and witnesses said she intentionally capsized her own craft, Mohl said.

On Tuesday, the district attorney’s office released an indictment charging Graswald with second-degree manslaughter as well as second-degree murder. It said in a statement that in addition to removing the drain plug from Viafore’s kayak, she moved his paddle away from him as he struggled in the water.

Graswald’s lawyer, Richard Portale, has raised questions about the statements his Latvian client allegedly made to authorities, noting that the language barrier between Graswald and investigators.

“I’m skeptical of the statements,” he said earlier this month.

Graswald and Viafore appeared to be a happy couple. Images posted online show an active, affectionate pair spending time outdoors, particularly on the water, and a message about their plans to be married at a spot on the Baltic Sea.

Graswald has worked at a string of restaurants and other businesses and has been married twice.

She is being held on $3 million bail.