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Woman sabotaged her fiancé's kayak and watched him drown after growing tired of his 'sex demands'

 The panicked 911 call came from New York’s Hudson River. The woman sounded frantic as she pleaded for help from the freezing cold waters.
‘My fiancé fell in the river,’ Angelika Graswald cried. ‘I can’t get to him.’
Angelika had gone kayaking with her fiancé Vincent Viafore and he’d got into trouble in the choppy waves.
‘He’s getting further and further away from me,’ shrieked Angelika. ‘He’s gonna drown.’
As rescuers rushed to the scene, lives hung in the balance. But was everything as it seemed?
Angelika was born in Latvia, but came to the US as a nanny in 2000. By the time she met Vincent, she’d been divorced twice, just like him. Angelika was working in local restaurants while Vincent, 11 years her senior, was a project manager. Within weeks, they’d moved in together in Poughkeepsie, New York, and after six months they were engaged. Vincent, 46, was a generous man, with lots of friends. Angelika was confident and creative, and they both loved the outdoors.
It was 19 April 2015 when the couple went kayaking, something they did together regularly. They set off from Plum Point on the Hudson River with some beers, and paddled to Bannerman’s Island where they stayed for a while. On their way back from the island, they hit trouble. The weather changed and the waters became rough.
That was when Angelika called 911, at around 7.30pm.
‘I’m in the Hudson River, my fiancé fell in the water, can you please call anybody?’ she cried. ‘It’s very windy and the waves are coming in and I can’t paddle to him.’
She could be heard yelling, ‘Hold on, baby!’ to Vincent. Then she told the operator that she couldn’t see him any more.
When rescuers arrived, it was already getting dark. They pulled Angelika out of the water and treated her for hypothermia, while a search began for Vincent. Rescue teams used boats and helicopters to scour the river, but there was no sign of him. He wasn’t wearing a life jacket or a wetsuit. The next day, Vincent’s blue kayak was found at Plum Point where they began their excursion.

Shocking confession

Then investigators heard reports that Angelika was far from grieving. She’d posted a video of herself on social media doing cartwheels, and even a picture of herself in a kayak with the comment: ‘If only I could have paddled harder, dammit.’
Investigators brought her in for questioning. Angelika told them that as they left the island, the waters grew unsettled. Vincent had allegedly said, ‘Baby, this is an adventure of a lifetime,’ but then got into difficulty. She admitted that she ended up with both her paddle and Vincent’s – something he could have used to get to safety. But, most importantly, she made a shocking revelation about the drain plug in Vincent’s kayak – it had been missing.
In fact, she admitted that she had removed it months earlier. During the 11-hour interrogation, Angelika also revealed there were problems in her relationship with Vincent. She said he was domineering and would pressurise her with his sexual demands – including requests for threesomes, which never happened. Angelika said they fought about it and it made her angry.
She also admitted that she felt trapped in the relationship and sometimes wished he was dead. ‘I wanted to be free,’ she said.
Another motive for wanting Vincent dead was the £186,000 that she stood to gain from two insurance policies.
When asked if she felt relieved that he was dead, Angelika replied, ‘Yes.’
They asked her whether she had removed the plug because she wanted Vincent to die. ‘Yes, at some point, yes,’ she replied.
Angelika, 35, was charged with second-degree murder, and later, second-degree manslaughter. She was held on a £6.6million bond and pleaded not guilty. At first, the media reports suggested it was an open-and-shut case. Angelika wanted her fiancé dead and removed the plug, allowing his kayak to fill up with water.
But did the missing plug contribute to the kayak sinking? Some experts disagreed. The water was cold, the waves were high and Vincent had been drinking and didn’t have a life jacket on. Would enough water enter the kayak to pull it under? He’d paddled to the island successfully enough.
Angelika’s defence team said that her interrogation was too long. She’d been confused by language barriers and had been tricked into confessing. She’d just wanted to get home and her words had been manipulated.


Finally, on 23 May, Vincent’s body was found a mile from Bannerman’s Island by a fisherman. It was bittersweet for his loved ones. It was confirmation of his death, but the chance to bury him with dignity. An autopsy revealed he’d died from drowning, with alcohol in his body that would’ve impaired his actions in the water.
Then in July 2017, there was a shock when Angelika, 37, tearfully pleaded guilty to criminally negligent homicide. Removing the plug would only have caused Vincent’s death with the other contributing factors, such as weather and Vincent’s drinking. Her defence said that it was an accident caused by a combination of high waves, cold water and alcohol.
Prosecutors insisted that by taking the plug and pushing away the paddle that Vincent could have floated on, Angelika contributed to his death. They also said she waited 20 minutes to call 911 and even deliberately capsized her own kayak.
In November 2017, Angelika was sentenced to 16 months to four years in prison. Due to time she had already served while waiting for the sentencing, she could be released fairly soon, but risks the chance of deportation back to Latvia. Before sentencing, Vincent’s sister Laura Rice read a statement to the court saying her brother didn’t deserve to die the way he did.
‘When I think of my brother’s last moments alive, I think of the pain he must have endured,’ she said. ‘I visualise him trying to survive hypothermia in the freezing cold river, confused and not understanding why the woman who said she loved him and wanted to marry him did nothing to help him.’
After the sentencing, Angelika’s lawyer read a statement from her that said:
‘Never would I have imagined waking up one day and finding myself behind bars, charged with murdering the man I love. This entire process has been incredibly difficult for me. I love Vince very much and miss him terribly. I am not a murderer.’
Angelika insisted the investigation had been one-sided and she’d been treated unfairly. It was the last thing that Vincent’s loved ones wanted to hear. When she removed the plug from his kayak and told police that she was happy her fiancé was dead, it was Vincent who was deeply wronged.

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