Update: Hudson River Kayaking “Accident” Was Homicide After All

Photo: Allyse Pulliam

In May, 2015, we posted, Was a Kayaking “Accident” Really Murder on the Hudson? The question raised by that post has been answered. Angelika Graswald, 37, who had been accused of murdering her fiancée, Vincent Viafore, 46, while on an early season kayaking trip on the Hudson River near Bannerman Island, has pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of criminally negligent homicide.

The story initially sounded like a case of unprepared kayakers getting into trouble with tragic results. On a late Sunday evening, April 19th, 2015, Angelika Graswald and her fiancée, Vincent Viafore, were kayking in the Hudson River about 50 miles north of New York City. Neither were wearing PFDs. They were paddling back from Bannermans Island to Plum Point when Graswald said that her fiancé’s kayak capsized in choppy water and high winds. Graswald said that she also capsized while attempting to help Viafore. Graswald called 911. When the police arrived she was taken the hospital to be treated for hypothermia. The police recovered both kayaks but could not locate Viafore. His body was found in the river in May.

At first, the police believed Graswald’s story. Then she began to act strangely, appearing to celebrate in local bars and on social media. It was revealed that she was the beneficiary of her fiancée’s $250,000 life insurance policies. Police began to reexamine inconsistencies in her initial interrogation. They arrested her and charged her with murder in the second degree on April 30, 2015.

It looks like Graswald will not be serving much time in prison, however.  The New York Times reportsMs. Graswald is scheduled to be sentenced on Nov. 1. Under the terms of the agreement, she is expected to receive from 15 months to four years in prison, prosecutors said. But Mr. Portale, [her attorney]  said that, taking into account the 27 months she has spent in jail since being arrested, she expects to be released by the end of the year.

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3 Responses to Update: Hudson River Kayaking “Accident” Was Homicide After All

  1. Mike Lee says:

    Sorry to contradict the author of this review who states that no Thames sailing barges were at Dunkirk. There were at least sixteen, of which nine were lost, some with their skippers and crews. The story of the ‘Pudge’ is well known, as is the photo of the Ethel Everard, stranded on the beach, sails shot to bits, surrounded by abandoned trucks and war debris. There is history by Barbara Butler called’ Sailing Barges. The Dunkirk Story.’
    All this can be easily verified by searching and the The barge in the film ( yet to see)
    is the steel built ‘Xylonite’, a large photo of which hangs in my study.
    The film director is true to his principles of one representing a lot. Please give credit to the ‘lot’ here.

  2. Mike Lee says:

    Sorry. This comment was intended to go with the film review of ‘Dunkirk’. It didn’t post first go so the re post has appeared here. Thick fingers or what?

  3. Rick Spilman says:

    My mistake. Thanks for the catch. Fixed it. See my previous comment to David Rye.