Angelika Graswald and her fiancée, Vincent Viafore, by all appearances, were deeply in love. They met in Poughkeepsie, New York, about four years ago. Vincent was going through a divorce at the time and Angelika seemed like a godsend to him, according to what friends said. They planned to get married on the Baltic Sea, near Graswald’s native country of Latvia.
But earlier this month, on April 19, it all came to an end for the seemingly happy couple. They were on a kayaking trip along the Hudson River near Bannerman Island on the river in upstate New York, when they hit a stretch of choppy water and Vincent’s kayak flipped over, throwing him into the rushing river.
For the latest update to this story, see the bottom of this article.
“I saw him struggling a little bit,” Graswald told a local TV station, News 12. “He was trying to figure out how to paddle the waves. And then I just saw him flip, right in front of me.”
She said that there was nothing she could do. She heard her fiancée say, ‘I don’t think I’m going to make it.” And then he was gone.
Nearly two weeks later, searchers still have not found Vincent’s body.
But on Wednesday, Angelika said something to police investigators — they so far won’t reveal exactly what — that turned the whole case around.
“She made statements that implicated herself in this crime — enough to certainly have reasonable cause to have made the arrest,” New York State Police Major Patrick Regan said at a Thursday press conference. “Initially, we believed her to be a survivor of a tragic accident. We believe we know what happened. We believe she indicated how this occurred.”
No longer did police view what happened on the river as a tragic act of nature that tore a perfect couple apart. What they saw now was a cold-blooded murder.
On Thursday, Angelika Graswald — who, it turns out, was previously married and who uses her maiden name, Lipska, on Facebook — was arrested and held without bail.
But she says the whole thing is a misunderstanding that comes from what police found when they located her diary and read some very personal entries.
In the diary, she described having fantasies about Vincent’s death. He often tried to force her into sexual three-way encounters, and had a taste for rough sex, she wrote.
But none of that means that she ever intended to kill her fiancée, she said in her lone jailhouse interview.
Angelika Graswald also fell into the water during the tragedy, but she was wearing a life vest, while Viafore reportedly was not. She was saved by another boater — and is now due in court on May 5.
UPDATE: Viafore’s body was finally found floating in the Hudson River about a month after his disappearance following what Graswald said was a tragic kayaking accident. But police later revealed that she told them, “it felt good knowing he was going to die,” as she watched her fiancé struggle to survive.
Police also allege that she confessed in her statements to them that she tampered with his kayak and paddle before the couple’s kayaking trip — but Graswald’s lawyer says that the apparent confession and other allegedly incriminating statements were the result of a language barrier — Graswald is a native of Latvia who lives in the United States as a legal permanent resident — combined with shock from hypothermia in the immediate aftermath of the tragedy.
Graswald, who has been charged with second degree murder and second degree manslaughter, last appeared in court on July 9 for a pretrial conference. She has pleaded not guilty to the charges against her, and is not due back in court until September, after her defense lawyers have finished examining the prosecution’s evidence, including the autopsy on Vincent Viafore, which has not yet been completed.
[Image: Angelika Lipska Facebook]