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'Heartless Monster' Who Killed Wealthy Wife For Her Fortune Gets Maximum Sentence

Though Roderick Covlin was convicted of strangling wife Shele Danishefsky Covlin, the couple's children begged the judge for leniency.

By Jill Sederstrom

A former New York stockbroker, who was convicted of killing his wealthy wife the day before she planned to cut him out of her will, was given the maximum sentence Wednesday, despite pleas from his children for leniency.

Roderick Covlin, 45, was sentenced to 25 years to life behind bars for the murder of his estranged wife Shele Danishefsky Covlin, whose body was found face down in a bloody bathtub on New Year’s Eve 2009. Prosecutors said Covlin killed his wife during a bitter divorce battle to gain access to her multi-million fortune.

But while the victim’s family called the convicted killer an “evil predator” and “heartless monster,” his children pleaded for leniency in emotional statements made before the judge.

“I lost one parent and do not want to lose a second,” 12-year-old Myles Covlin said, according to The New York Times.

As he stood before Justice Ruth Pickholz he added, “I’m afraid if he is given the maximum sentence, I won’t have the opportunity to do things with my dad.”

Myles Covlin, who was just 3 years old when his mother was killed, said he doesn’t remember his mother but doesn’t believe his father killed her, The New York Daily News reports.

Roderick Covlin

Covlin’s daughter, Anna, who found her mom dead in the bathtub when she was just 9 years old, wasn’t in the courtroom Wednesday but gave a statement to her paternal grandfather to read in court.

“My dad is one of the most caring and loving people I know,” she said, according to WABC.  

The statements made by his children were a sharp contrast to the statements made by Danishefsky Covlin’s family.

“Rod Covlin is not someone who deserves one iota of mercy,” her brother Fred Danishefsky said,according to WABC. “Never allow this evil predator to be free.”

Her sister-in-law Peggy Danishefsky described Covlin as “heartless monster” and believed the maximum sentence was justified.

“He has torn our family apart and tried to destroy our family in so many ways,” she said, the New York Times reports.

The wealthy money manager’s death was initially believed to be an accident and so no autopsy was conducted before she was buried at the family’s request due to their religious beliefs. But after suspicions began to grow about her death, the body was exhumed and a medical examiner ruled she had been strangled to death, according to NBC New York.

During the trial, prosecutors also outlined a series of troubling events that allegedly occurred after the murder as Covlin continued to try to gain access to his children’s inheritance. According to lead prosecutor Matthew Bogdanos, Covlin also encouraged his daughter to report her grandfather of rape in an attempt to regain his custody of the children, says The New York Times.

He also plotted at one point to marry off his underage daughter in Mexico so that she could become emancipated from his parents and then even plotted to kill his own parents, the prosecutor said.

Covlin himself maintained his innocence, saying in court that he planned to appeal his conviction.

“Fortunately, my daughter, who slept in Shele’s bed that night, knows the truth,” he said according to the Daily News. “She’s the one person who could. My children are amazing people. They’re strong, courageous and wise, and they know that I love them.”

The judge was not swayed and opted to sentence him to maximum sentence allowed, citing the “overwhelming” evidence against him.