Lara Prychodko’s dead body was found in the trash chute of her luxury Manhattan apartment building in July 2018.
Police have said there were no signs of foul play and believe the 48-year-old’s death was an unfortunate accident, but more than two years later, her father maintains that her death was a calculated murder.
Nicholas Prychodko has filed a wrongful death lawsuit in Manhattan Supreme Court—alongside financial advisor and estate representative Lance Meyerowich—alleging that his daughter’s estranged husband, David Schlachet, hired a hitman to have her killed to maintain a greater portion of the couple’s $6 million fortune amid their divorce, according to The New York Post.
The shocking lawsuit alleges that Schlachet and the hit man, identified only as “John Doe,” met several times in June 2018 to discuss his wife’s demise.
“Upon information and belief, during these meetings, Schlachet offered to pay John Doe to murder Lara Prychodko,” the suit alleges.
The suit doesn't offer up concrete proof, however, and Schlachet has never been arrested in connection to the death.
Lara died on the afternoon of July 10, 2018 after watching the World Cup semi-finals at a nearby bar earlier in the day, according to NBC News.
Security footage at the Zeckendorf Towers apartment building shows her coming into the building at 4:10 p.m. in a seemingly jovial mood.
“The doorman said she was happy. She was high-fiving them,” her father told NBC News in 2020. “They all loved her because, you know, she was just so friendly and nice.”
She’s seen in the footage getting onto the building’s elevator alone in what would be the last images of the 48-year-old mother.
Several minutes later, around 4:20 p.m., a neighbor on the 27th floor reported coming home to her own apartment. The woman didn't notice anything unusual but reported hearing loud noises in the hallway around 4:30 p.m. and went outside to investigate. She didn’t see anyone in the hallway but noticed a purse laying on the ground that was later identified as Lara’s.
The building’s maintenance worker discovered the body in the trash compactor a few minutes later around 4:40 p.m.
Lara’s blood alcohol level at the time of her death was 0.29 and police said that she appeared to be drunk and stumbling in surveillance footage captured before her death, according to The Post.
A police spokesman told local station WNYW in the summer of 2020 that “no criminality” was suspected in the case.
“The NYPD detectives explored different investigative avenues and worked with The Office of Chief Medical Examiner in order to close the case,” NYPD Det. Denise Moroney told Oxygen.com on Thursday.
The New York City Medical Examiner ruled that Lara had died of “multiple blunt impact injuries” and listed the manner of death as “undetermined.”
Unsatisfied with the conclusions that officials drew in the case, Lara’s family solicited the help of Michael Baden, formerly New York City's chief medical examiner, who concluded in a 2019 report that she “may have died because of homicidal ligature strangulation and was then placed in the garbage chute,” according to NBC News.
He noted that a strangulation may have also accounted for the lack of blood “from the lacerated viscera and torn blood vessels” found during the autopsy.
In the recent lawsuit, Nicholas believes his daughter may have been killed for financial reasons, noting the couple had been going through an “acrimonious divorce” at the time of her death.
Schlachet’s construction firm, Taocon Inc., had filed for bankruptcy in 2016, according to the lawsuit.
Lara had also lost custody of the couple’s son after she was arrested for a DUI in Southampton, New York. She had been scheduled to meet with a counselor to restore her overnight visitation privileges the day after she died, WNYW reports.
Schlachet’s attorney declined to comment on the lawsuit to The New York Post.
In a statement to Dateline in 2020, Schlachet said he was still grieving Lara’s death.
“I can only say that my divorce—like so many—was a painful and sad experience to go through with someone I had loved so deeply. But that does not diminish the grief and trauma our son and I have experienced by the tragic loss of our wife and mother, Lara. It is a pain that we are both still learning to cope with and which we both will carry with us forever.”
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