Investigator: Woman Accused of Murdering Fiancé Admitted to Taking His Kayak Paddle

Illustration for article titled Investigator: Woman Accused of Murdering Fiancé Admitted to Taking His Kayak Paddle

State investigators say a New York woman accused of killing her fiancé during a kayaking trip admitted to intentionally removing the plug from his kayak and then taking his paddle away. Angelika Graswald, 36, is charged with second-degree murder and manslaughter, and has pleaded not guilty.

Graswald’s case is virtually guaranteed to become a Lifetime movie at some point in the near future, such are its made-for-TV details. She was charged in May, after police came to doubt her story that fiancé Vincent Viafore, 46, accidentally capsized and disappeared during an April night trip down the Hudson. His body was pulled from the river May 23.

The court is currently holding what’s called a Huntley hearing in Graswald’s case, where the defense can challenge the way police obtained statements allegedly made by the defendant. And in this case, the statements are a doozy; state police investigator Donald DeQuarto testified that Graswald said a whole bunch of incriminating things, before she was even under suspicion.


Graswald skipped two appointments in late April to speak with police, DeQuarto testified, and told them it was because she was at an animal sanctuary. She then tried to give him a gift card and a handmade figurine to thank him for his help, he added, neither of which he accepted.

The following day, things got truly weird: DeQuarto and several other state police went to search the shore of Bannerman Island, near where Viafore disappeared. Graswald arrived soon after with a wreath of flowers, saying she planned to lay them down as a memorial for him. Then she asked to speak to DeQuarto alone, he said. From the Poughkeepsie Journal:

“She said, ‘you know about the (kayak) plug right?’” DeQuarto said. “And I said...tell me about it. She said, ‘what if I did something with the plug. I just wanted to be free. I wanted him gone, I wanted to be myself...I took it (the plug) out.’”

“Did you intentionally remove the plug so he would drown?” DeQuarto said he asked her. “There was a brief moment of silence” and then Graswald told the investigator she did.

She also confessed to taking Viafore’s paddle away from him after his kayak capsized — Viafore was not wearing a life vest and was holding on to the paddle to stay afloat, DeQuarto said.

Graswald also allegedly told DeQuarto that she felt “trapped” by Viafore’s demands for a threesome:

Graswald told DeQuarto that Viafore had “trapped” her and frequently made sexual demands she didn’t want to comply with, like a threesome with a coworker of his. When DeQuarto asked why Graswald didn’t “just break up with him,” Graswald told him that she was a “very spiritual person and knew he would never really be gone” if she did.


Graswald is also said to have shouted “I’m free” in the presence of the cops, on her way back from Bannerman Island, and told DeQuarto she thought he was “cute.”

Graswald was charged with murder the next day, after an 11-hour police interrogation. According to the New York Times, her attorney is also trying to prevent prevent video of the interrogation from being entered into evidence.


Graswald in a pre-trial appearance, May 2015. Photo via AP

Anna Merlan was a Senior Reporter at G/O Media until September 2019. She's the author of Republic of Lies: American Conspiracy Theorists and Their Surprising Rise to Power.

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“Men are afraid women will take their canoe paddles. Women are afraid of losing their spirituality.”