NEW YORK (JTA) — The estranged husband of a wealthy Jewish Manhattan woman found dead in a bathtub six years ago was charged with murdering her.
Roderick Covlin, 42, was arrested Sunday and pleaded not guilty Monday in Manhattan Criminal Court after being formally charged with two counts of second-degree murder in the death of Shele Danishefsky, several media outlets reported. He is being held without bail.
Covlin is expected to appear in court again on Nov. 9.
Covlin has been the primary suspect in the case for years, and the New York Post quoted an unnamed law enforcement source as saying, “We always knew he did it.” The source said the case had proceeded slowly because the Manhattan district attorney wanted to be “confident they would get an indictment.”
However, Covlin’s defense attorney, Robert Gottlieb, told the New York Daily News, “We don’t believe there is any credible evidence to these charges.”
Covlin was on his way to visit the couple’s daughter and son, ages 15 and 9, at his parents’ home in Scarsdale, an affluent New York suburb, when he was arrested outside the town’s commuter rail station. His parents have custody of the children.
At Covlin’s arraignment, Danishefsky’s family told the Daily News that they were pleased with the arrest.
“It’s about time,” Elaine Danishefsky, the victim’s mother, told the newspaper. “I just hope he gets what he deserves.”
A financial adviser with an estate worth $4 million, Danishefsky, 47, died on Dec. 31, 2009, hours before she was scheduled to meet with her lawyer and cut her estranged husband out of her will. The two, who already had a Jewish divorce, were in the midst of a civil divorce.
The couple’s daughter, Anna, then 9, found Danishefsky in the bathtub of their Upper West Side apartment on the morning of Jan. 1, 2010 and called her father. Covlin, who was barred by restraining order from contact with Danishefsky and the children, lived across the hall and had a key to their apartment.
Danishefsky’s death initially was ruled an accident, and she was buried without an autopsy for religious reasons — Jewish law forbids autopsies.
However, in 2010, the family had her body exhumed and the medical examiner declared the death a homicide after an autopsy found that she died from “compression to neck,” according to the New York Post.
Covlin, the main beneficiary in Danishefsky’s will, was arrested shortly before he would have been able to claim the estate, according to the Daily News. The estate sued him for wrongful death in 2011, and the money and life insurance are being held in trust until the case is settled.
According to DNAInfo, citing court documents, before her murder Danishefsky had expressed fears that Covlin “intended to kill her,” and got a restraining order that would bar him from contact with her or their two children.
DNAInfo reported that witnesses said Covlin was acting suspiciously around the time of the murder, with one saying he was “roaming the lobby at 4 in the morning, he hadn’t changed his clothes in days, and he looked whacked.”