Is Angelika Graswald aka Kayak Killer guilty or was she coerced?

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2 years ago

TW: This article contains mentions of murder

Hihi! Today I give you a case that may bring different opinions or perspectives. Some people find that Angelika was truly guilty, but there’s people that think that she’s innocent. Leave me a comment at the end with your opinion!! I will read them all, as I always do!


People Involved

Angelika Graswald was a 37-year-old woman originally from Latvia, Europe. She first arrived to the U.S. in 2000 to work for a family as a nanny. Although she only planned to stay in the country while working for this family, she ended up staying and found love.

Her newly found love was named Vincent Viafore, also known as “Vince”, a 46-year-old from Poughkeepsie, New York. He was known as the life of the party, he loved adventures and dancing, according to Angelika and his mother.

Vince and Angelika

They met and started dating in September 2013 and she moved in with him a couple of weeks into them dating. The relationship was moving pretty quickly, because 5 months in they got engaged. As Angelika said in an interview, they loved water and their relationship was very free-spirited, they took risks and lived in the moment, and they were planning to go back to her country to get married by the Baltic Sea. 

The Incident

On April 19th, 2015 the couple decided to go kayaking in the Hudson River. The plan was to kayak from Plum Point to Bannerman’s Island, where they would stop and take some pictures, since it’s a beautiful island with an abandoned castle. But, according to local news, there would be a storm at the end of the day.

The traject via GMaps

They decided to go on the trip anyway and, by 4:15pm they made it successfully to the castle, where they proceeded to take some pictures of the sunset. They stayed until around 7:15pm and when they left, as the sun was already set, the weather got really bad. So as the storm was forming and getting worse, the water was getting harder and harder to paddle.

As they were trying to get back, Vince’s kayak flipped over an he fell out, falling into the 48º F (8ºC) water. Experts say that with these water temperatures, it would only take around 5 minutes before he would start to lose gross motor control, which means he would lose the ability to grab onto the side of the kayak or hold onto it.

According to Angelika, Vince insisted on her wearing a lifejacket, even though she usually didn’t, and he did not have one. But not only did he not have a lifejacket, he also wasn’t wearing a wetsuit to keep him safer from the waves. After he fell, Angelika said Vince called out to her, asking her to call 911, and that was the last thing she heard him say before he slipped off of his kayak and drowned.

  • If you’re interested, you can see the 911 call HERE

After talking to 911, Angelika also fell into the water, but luckily rescuers got there in time to save her, even though they couldn’t find Vince’s body or kayak. 

The Investigation

Shortly after this ‘accident’, Angelika posted a video on facebook of her happily doing cartwheels and singing karaoke at a party. Only 10 days later, on April 29th, Angelika decided to bring flowers to the area where Vince drowned. A detective decided to join her to the island where he claims that she confessed to him that she killed Vince, that she wanted him to go down so she pulled the drain plug on his kayak and removed the ring that holds the paddles together. However, she claims she did not say this, but she was arrested that day.

Angelika was then taken into custody at the Orange County New York Jail where she was interrogated for the next 11 hours. This is one of the first things that make people think it might not be a crime, since it is known that extensive interrogations can lead to abuse of power by the interrogators and manipulation, which can lead to false confessions.

Even though she said from the beginning she never told anyone she purposedly killed him/watched him drown and did everything to save him, the odd behaviors she presented during the interrogation made media portray her as bizarre, since she would do yoga, jump and skip through the room (you can see parts of the interrogation HERE)

Although odd behavior doesn’t mean someone committed a crime, investigators found it weird that she told them that Vince had added her to his life-insurance policy just 6 months earlier, which gave her a motive.

As the interrogation went on, she started saying that their relationship wasn’t healthy. She mentioned that Vince was very demanding and expected her to perform many s*xual behaviors and favors that she wasn’t comfortable with. However he would threaten her that he would call off the wedding if she didn’t comply.

After many hours of interrogation, she claims she told them what she thought they wanted to hear, talking about when Vince drowned she felt a sense of freedom and euphoria. At this time, the detectives would constantly ask “why did you kill Vince? Why did you kill Vince?” - this is a technique many interrogations use since when this is repeated long enough, people might start to confess, but that also means that people that might be innocent can start to doubt themselves and think that maybe an accident was somehow their fault, and say stupid and confused things. This is one of the reasons that makes this technique unethical, especially when used in extensive interrogations.

At this point, even though she kept saying she didn’t DO it, she started to say that maybe she let it happen and couldn’t save him, but she got kind of relieved she was out of the relationship - a sentiment that can be felt in the moment when someone is in an abusive relationship. Eventually, this was what went down between Angelika and the Investigator during the interrogation (you can see it HERE):

"Investigator: You killed him, right?

Angelika: You’re the one telling me.

I: No, I’m asking. I want you to tell me the truth

A: I am telling you the truth.

I: What is the answer to the question?

A: I… I didn’t want him…-

I: Angelika, what is the true answer to the question?

A: Alright… I’ll give you the f****** statement.

I: What is it

A: I wanted him dead and now he’s gone and I’m OK with it."

So we can see she never actually admitted to KILLING him, but rather that she was happy he was gone and that he wanted him gone, which left investigators with an interesting situation in their hands. 

Evidences from the Crime

Since the investigators didn’t found his body, there was a theory that maybe she killed him in a different way, and just made it seem like he drowned, for a cover up. This theory was particularly interesting because when detectives were investigating, they found that one of Vince’s guns was missing from his house, which made them think that maybe Angelika had shot him off the kayak.

However, in May, while the police were securing the Hudson River for a graduation ceremony, there was a report of a body in it. The body was Vince’s, and it didn’t go far from where it drowned since it only traveled for about one mile (1,61km) south. Also, his body had no bullet holes or any signs of any other type of death besides drowing.

Soon after this, a grand jury officially indicter Angelika for this crime and accused her of second degree manslaughter and second degree murder, the theory was that she purposely removed his drain plug on the kayak, which stays at the top of the kayak.

Angelika being accused


Testing the Main Theory

The main theory that was the base for this case was that Angelika had removed the drain plug off Vince’s kayak. They tested this theory by pouring water, as in wave water, into the side of the boat, what made sense since there was a storm, and the kayak was filled quickly, but pouring the water in the drain plug, barely any got in. This proved that removing the plug would not sink the kayak, so this was not a good option to kill someone (see the test HERE ). Plus, the fact that these types of kayak were used on lakes and ponds and not rivers, would also be a good reason for it being and accident. 


While waiting for her trial, Angelika spent 2 years in prison and the trial ended up not happening because they found evidence that Vince knew that the drain plug was open: investigators found images of his car on the day that they were driving to the river and the had secured the kayak to the car by using his car on the day that was unscrewed so chances are he knew it was taken off. There were also other pictures of Vince and his kayak, where it didn’t have the drain plug.

Angelika was then left with two choices: she could plead guilty and be out of jail in six weeks for good or go to trial and possibly face life in prison. With these odds, she decided to plead guilty - not to murdering him, but yes agreeing that she could have contributed to it and/or didn’t do enough to help.

Angelika spent a total of 2 years and 7 months in prison and after she left, she had to report to a parole officer for 16 months. Since she pled involuntary homicide, there’s a chance that she could claim half of Vince’s life insurance money - his parents are fighting her on this case. 

So… Do you think there is enough evidence, besides reasonable doubt, to charge Angelika with murder? Do you think she is guilty? Or do you think this was only an accident and the media made this worse by painting her in such an awful way? Feel free to leave your comments down below! This was not such a gore case, but very interesting nonetheless!

Tell me what you would like to see! Disappearances? Cases where they found the criminal, or they are still on the loose? Open or closed cases? Thank you for reading, have a great day!!


Best Regards,


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