GOSHEN, N.Y. - Prosecutors say a 35-year-old New York woman accused of killing her fiance while paddling on the Hudson River admitted to tampering with his kayak.
They say Angelika Graswald, a Latvian expatriate, has been indicted on a second-degree murder charge in the April 19 death of 46-year-old Vincent Viafore.
At a hearing Wednesday where Graswald was ordered held on $3 million cash bail, a prosecutor said Graswald felt trapped and stood to benefit from $250,000 in life insurance policies.
Assistant District Attorney Julie Mohl said Graswald told investigators that "it felt good knowing he would die."
Graswald's lawyer said he was skeptical about the statements prosecutors said she made to investigators and would look into whether they were voluntary. He noted a language barrier he says exists between Graswald and investigators.
Police say the crime happened April 19, 50 miles north of New York City near Bannerman Island, site of a scenic ruin where Graswald volunteered as a gardener.
Viafore, of Poughkeepsie, was reported missing that day when Graswald called police to report the couple was kayaking on the Hudson when Viafore's vessel capsized in choppy water near the island. Graswald told police she tried to help her fiance but that she fell out of her own kayak.
She was later picked up by a boater and treated for hypothermia.
Viafore's body hasn't been found. Searchers are still looking for him.
Assistant District Attorney Mohl didn't detail Wednesday how Graswald allegedly tampered with Viafore's kayak, but said it filled with water and capsized. Viafore, who wasn't wearing a life vest, held onto his boat for 5 to 10 minutes, she said, but that Graswald only called 911 some 20 minutes after his kayak capsized. According to Mohl, witnesses say Graswald intentionally capsized her own kayak.
Following the disappearance and before she was arrested, Graswald posted several photos of her with Viafore on Facebook. The images appear to show an active, affectionate couple spending time outdoors, particularly on the water. Her page also features photographs of Bannerman Island.
In an interview with News 12 Westchester after her arrest, Graswald said police jumped the gun and wrongfully accused her of murder after reading an outdated entry in her diary in which she wrote there were times she wished Viafore was dead because he pushed her for rough sex and wanted her to engage in threesomes. She said the diary entries were written during tough times and she would never have hurt him.
Those who know Graswald are trying to come to terms with the accusations she is now facing.
Mike Colvin, a disc jockey in Poughkeepsie whom she lived with from November 2008 to June 2010, described Graswald as a person who could walk into a room full of strangers and know everyone's name by the time she left. But he said she also had authority issues and could make unwise snap decisions when angry. According to Colvin, she had been through two marriages and a string of jobs by her mid-30s, and her impulsiveness apparently contributed to a checkered job history at restaurants and other businesses.
"The bubbly, bouncy little ballerina girl had a dark side," he said.