D.A. Vance: Roderick Covlin Convicted of Murdering His Estranged Wife in 2009


March 13, 2019

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the trial conviction of RODERICK COVLIN, 45, for murdering his 47-year-old wife, Shele Danishefsky Covlin, at her Upper West Side apartment on New Year’s Eve in 2009. A New York State Supreme Court jury found COVLIN guilty of the top charge in the indictment against him: Murder in the Second Degree. He is expected to be sentenced on April 10, 2019.

“Shele Danishefsky Covlin had a soaring career, two adoring children, and the love and respect of her many friends, colleagues, and relatives. But Ms. Danishefsky also had a devastating secret: she was being psychologically tortured by Roderick Covlin,” said District Attorney Vance. “She suffered at the hands of this defendant for months, and as soon as she sought to sever ties, he murdered her in a brutal and vicious crime. That he delayed justice for Ms. Danishefsky’s family by lying to them and to law enforcement in a cover-up scheme only serves to underscore the depravity of his actions. And while this guilty verdict cannot undo the trauma of Ms. Danishefsky’s loved ones, I hope that it helps them as they continue to heal from their painful loss.”

“At the same time, I would like to commend my office’s prosecutors, investigators, and analysts for nearly a decade of work and dedication to this case. From the moment this defendant was arrested through the very end of his trial, my office’s commitment to holding him accountable for this unconscionable crime has never wavered.”

As proven at trial, COVLIN and the victim were married since December 1998. In 2004, the victim executed her last will and testament, naming the defendant the sole beneficiary to her estate, which on December 31, 2009, totaled $5.27 million, including $3.6 million in life insurance.

From approximately January through December 2009, COVLIN and the victim were engaged in several domestic disputes related to the custody of their two children, false accusations made by the defendant, and other matters. In April 2009, the couple separated and the defendant moved from their shared apartment on West 68th Street to an apartment directly across the hall. As a result of the defendant’s behavior, a Family Court judge then granted the victim full custody of their two young children. In May, COVLIN called the victim’s employer and made a false accusation against her, accusing her of substance abuse and of mishandling the family’s finances. And in July, COVLIN filed a false accusation of child sexual abuse against the victim with the New York City Administration for Children’s Services. During that time, COVLIN was also engaged in several extramarital affairs. Finally, in December, on the day before the incident, the victim expressed her intention to remove the defendant from her will and designate a new beneficiary for her estate.

During the early morning hours of December 31, 2009, COVLIN murdered the victim in her apartment, filling a tub with blood-filled water to stage the incident as a tragic accident. He then called 911 and remained at the apartment when NYPD officers arrived moments later. The victim was pronounced dead at the scene and transported to the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner (OCME). After an initial examination that did not uncover sufficient evidence to overrule the family’s religious objection to autopsy, the death was ruled undetermined and the victim was buried without an official autopsy. Meanwhile, COVLIN began attempting to collect $5.27 million from the victim’s estate, which he planned to spend on travel to backgammon tournaments with female acquaintances. 

In February 2010, the Manhattan D.A.’s Office received new information about the case and obtained an order to exhume the victim’s casket in order to perform an official autopsy. Then, in April 2010, OCME notified the Manhattan D.A.’s Office and the victim’s family that, after performing the autopsy, her death had been ruled a homicide. The Manhattan D.A.’s Office subsequently took over the investigation, and COVLIN was arrested by NYPD detectives at train station in Scarsdale, New York on November 1, 2015.

Assistant D.A.s Matthew Bogdanos, Senior Trial Counsel for Trial Bureau 50, and Anne Siegel handled the prosecution of the case with Senior Investigative Analyst Nicole Drosinos under the supervision of Executive Assistant D.A. John Irwin, Chief of the Trial Division. Former Assistant D.A Ann Prunty, Counsel to the Trial Division; Principal Financial Investigator Biagio Rosano; Former Deputy Chief Investigator Robert Mooney; Analysts Apsara Iyer, Mackenzie Priest, Kathleen Walsh; Trial Preparation Assistant Ryan Kellner; and Intern Desiree Marks provided valuable assistance with the case.

District Attorney Vance thanked the NYPD, particularly Detective Carl Roadarmel of the 20th Precinct Detective Squad; Former Detective Frank Brennan, also of the 20th Precinct Detective Squad; and Detective William Brown of the Crime Scene Unit for their assistance with the investigation.

 

Defendant Information:

RODERICK COVLIN, D.O.B 7/28/73

New Rochelle, New York

Convicted:

  • Murder in the Second Degree, a class A felony, one count