Angelika Graswald now in 2022: She relocated to Latvia
Angelika Graswald was accused of killing her fiancé, Vincent Viafore, in a manner described as James Bond-like. The theory by police and prosecutors was that Angelika, a Latvian immigrant to the United States, removed a drain plug from Vincent’s kayak, causing it to drown in the choppy waters of the Hudson.
Graswald didn’t confess to killing Vincent, but she told police that she was relieved he was gone. Police probed for hours, but Angelika refused to admit to the murder. Nevertheless, prosecutors charged her with second-degree murder and second-degree manslaughter; the media christened her the Kayak Killer.
Angelica returned to Latvia after her 16-month parole ended
Vincent Viafore’s death in the Hudson in April 2015 baffled investigators. The unscrewed drain plug provided a possible reason why his kayak capsized. Prosecutors blamed Angelika for the open drain plug, but there was no evidence to prove it.
“I was just at the wrong place at the wrong time, bottom line,” Angelika told The New York Times. “I was in danger, too, just as much as he was. I just happened to survive, and now I’m guilty?” The fact that Angelica didn’t seem to mourn Vincent and admitted to being glad that he was gone raised suspicion.
Prosecutors didn’t have enough evidence or precedent to convict Angelica. Vincent wasn’t wearing a life jacket or a wet suit, and a test showed that he was above New York’s legal alcohol limit. All these factors could have contributed to his passing.
Without direct evidence, prosecutors would have relied on Angelika’s interview with the police to secure a conviction. They didn’t have a strong case, but Angelika had reasons not to go to trial.
The media had sensationalized her case so much that it would have been near-impossible to find an impartial jury. Thanks to the media, the public had already convicted her. Angelika had two choices: go to trial and risk life imprisonment or plead guilty to criminally negligent homicide.
Graswald chose the latter. It required her to acknowledge that she knew the plug was missing and Vincent lacked safety gear, but she didn’t intend for him to die.
Judge Robert Freehill’s remarks during sentencing convinced Graswald that she had made the right choice. Freehill accused Angelika of refusing to help Vincent. “You exhibit such exaggerated feelings of self-worth, and Vincent Viafore was the unnecessary victim of that,” Freehill said.
Angelika spent 32 months in prison and 16 months on parole. After her parole ended, she returned to her native Latvia, nearly two decades since her departure.
Angelika became a devoted Christian during her incarceration
Angelika was baptized for the first time when she was eleven to please her Russian Orthodox grandmother. She was baptized again in September 2018, and this time, she saw significance in the ritual.
Graswald connected with Christianity while in prison. It helped her get past the pain of Vincent’s death. “I just read the Bible, and it teaches you not to dwell on the past,” she said. “I don’t have any more fear. Period. God didn’t give us a spirit of fear. Right out of the Bible.”
Kat Stoeffel of Elle asked Angelika whether there was something she’d kept to herself for whatever reason, and Angelika offered the following reply:
“Bottom line, I’m the only living person who’s still here, and I’m the only one who knows. So it’s between me and God. We’ll just leave it at that. I don’t care what anybody else thinks.”
Graswald and Vincent’s family settled over the money on his life insurance policy
Another reason why Angelika appeared guilty was that she stood to gain $450,000 as part of Vincent’s life insurance policy. This fact incensed Vincent’s family, which filed a wrongful death lawsuit seeking to block Angelika from receiving the cash.
“A person in New York cannot benefit from someone’s death if they’ve intentionally or recklessly caused their death,” Graswald’s attorney, Anthony Piscionere, told A&E. “The Viafore family would’ve had to still tried to prove that she intentionally or recklessly caused his death…and I don’t think the evidence was there.”
Vincent’s family firmly believes that Angelika is guilty of Vincent’s murder. “She definitely did something, otherwise she would have fought it,” Laura Rice, Viafore’s sister, said. “She still took a plea. An innocent person doesn’t take a plea.”
The Viafore family withdrew their suit in exchange for a similar action from Angelika, who’d filed an appeal of her criminal conviction. “With the passage of time, the Viafore family felt the importance of reaching some finality to the case,” Allan B. Rappleyea, attorney for the Viafore family, said.
Angelika and the Viafore family reached a settlement regarding the disbursement of the cash. Anthony Piscionere explained:
“Everything has gotten resolved. here is a financial settlement, the amount of which is confidential. However, as a result of that settlement, the administrator of the estate has withdrawn that action to disqualify her from taking any funds. We’re pleased to let the family move on.”