Almost 10 years after the suspicious bathtub death of his millionaire wife, Rod Colvin was brought to justice in a Manhattan courtroom. However, during his trial for the murder of Shele Danishefsky Covlin, shocking details emerged about just how far Rod was willing to go in his lust for Shele’s money.
As told on this week’s “Injustice With Nancy Grace,” on New Year’s Eve 2009, Rod strangled his wife and staged the scene to look like she had accidentally drowned. Shele was successful in finance, and largely supported the couple and their two young children. The couple was separated at the time — Rod wanted an open marriage, was addicted to online backgammon and, according to emails that came to light during the investigation, was threatening his wife.
Shele’s death, although suspicious, went uninvestigated at first, because of Orthodox Jewish rules on burial that Covlin was insisted be followed. As veteran prosecutor and television legal analyst Nancy Grace pointed out, that meant that the crime scene was scrubbed by a rabbi and Shele was buried without an autopsy.
“As someone whose faith is so important, so central, the idea that someone would use that to cover up a murder is evil,” Grace said on the show. “What an injustice … but their faith kept pushing the family forward to unlock the truth, and their love for Shele was stronger than Covlin’s evil.”
Rod Covlin’s scheming to get his hands on his wife’s hard-earned money went even beyond the eventual murder, however.
In early 2009, a custody battle exploded between the couple, as they separated — although they continued to live in the same building. That May, Rod called Shele’s employer and said that his wife was using drugs; then, in July, he filed a false report with Children’s Services that Shele was sexually abusing one of the children, according to a release from the Manhattan District Attorney.
The day before she was killed, Shele announced that she would be taking Rod out of her will. Rod’s lust for money was such that he, apparently, moved right away to remove his wife from the equation.
He, at one point, even planned to frame his daughter, who was 9 at the time, for her mother’s death. In 2013, shortly before he was arrested following a years-long police investigation, he forged a murder confession of sorts in his daughter’s email account, according to the New York Times.
“I lied,” the forged confession read. “She didn’t just slip.”
Rod was foiled after the murder, when his parents took custody of the children, thwarting his plan to take control of the fortune that was left to them, according to the Times. He moved in with his parents as well, and in 2013 tried to convince his daughter, 12 at the time, to accuse her grandfather of rape — she declined to do so, the Times reported.
Perhaps most shocking, when all his scheming to collect his murdered wife’s money failed, Rod plotted to pay someone in Mexico to marry his daughter. His reasoning went that, if she was emancipated from her grandparents, he could move in on the inheritance money, according to sources interviewed on “Injustice.”
For the whole story of the Covlin’s dissolving marriage, and how Rod’s manipulation of his wife’s Orthodox faith turned a potentially open and shut case into a nearly decade-long ordeal for Shele’s parents, watch the latest episode of “Injustice With Nancy Grace” on Oxygen.com.
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