Domestic violence, unfortunately, remains a pervasive issue, and husbands being violent toward their wives is a distressingly common occurrence. In the case of Shele Danishefsky, a similar distressing pattern emerged. Her husband, Rod Colvin, was found guilty of her murder almost a decade after her death. ‘Dateline: Endgame’ gets into the investigation, focuses on the evidence that ultimately led to Covlin’s conviction, and explores the motivations behind his criminal intentions. The case serves as a stark reminder of the broader issues surrounding violence against women and the profound impact it can have on individuals and families.
Who is Rod Covlin?
At the age of 25, Roderick “Rod” Covlin, a graduate in engineering with ambitious aspirations, resided in New York. His path intersected with 36-year-old Shele Danishefsky at a Jewish singles event in 1998. Shele, a highly accomplished senior vice president in private wealth management at an investment bank, boasted a reputable career. At that time, Rod worked as a stockbroker and pursued professional backgammon playing. The connection between them was immediate, leading to their marriage within six months of their initial meeting. Following their marriage, Rod relocated to Shele’s apartment on the Upper West Side.
Within a few years, Rod Covlin and Shele Danishefsky welcomed a daughter named Anna. Despite experiencing the joy of expanding their family, they faced a miscarriage when expecting twins but were later blessed with a son named Miles in 2006. Unfortunately, the couple’s marital bliss was marred by emerging problems. Rod, accustomed to the affluent lifestyle facilitated by his wife, began engaging in extramarital affairs. As the strain in their relationship intensified, Rod suggested an open marriage, an idea rejected by Shele. Subsequently, she became the target of his volatile temper and tantrums.
In 2009, Shele Danishefsky and Rod Covlin found themselves estranged, prompting Shele to arrange for Covlin to reside in an apartment directly across from hers. With divorce on the horizon, the couple entered into a contentious custody battle. During this tumultuous period, Covlin went to extreme lengths, coaching his 3-year-old son to fabricate stories to the police, alleging abuse by his mother. Additionally, he attempted to undermine Shele’s professional life by falsely accusing her of drug use and theft. In a letter penned to her sister a few months before her tragic demise, Shele expressed genuine concern, fearing that Covlin’s volatile outburst might escalate into something dire.
On December 31, 2009, Shele Danishefsky’s daughter discovered her 47-year-old mother lifeless in a blood-filled bathtub. Covlin was alerted, and he promptly dialed 911, claiming he had attempted to remove her from the bathtub and administer CPR. Unfortunately, Shele was already deceased. Citing religious considerations, Covlin opted against an autopsy. Investigators initially classified the death as an accident, suggesting that Shele may have slipped while entering the bathtub.
Additional evidence further incriminated Covlin. Upon Shele’s death, he failed to inherit the anticipated $5.2 million from her will. Instead, Covlin’s parents became the legal guardians for Shele and Covlin’s children and in a sinister attempt to access the inheritance, Covlin tried to poison and kill his parents to get hold of the money. He embezzled $84,000 from his children’s college funds and devised a disturbing plan to abduct his daughter, intending to take her to Mexico, and he sought to pay someone $10,000 to marry her. He also composed an email from his daughter’s account, falsely confessing responsibility for her mother’s death. It was only in 2019 that all the evidence bunched up and the trial against Covlin again.
Rod Covlin is Now in Prison
Rod Covlin’s trial extended over nine weeks, relying heavily on circumstantial evidence. Despite the lack of direct proof, a substantial body of evidence pointed overwhelmingly to Covlin as the sole perpetrator. Convicted of the murder of his wife, Covlin received a 25-year-to-life sentence, even though his children, particularly his son, pleaded with the judge for a lenient sentence. Despite his denial of guilt, an appeal in 2021 failed to overturn his conviction.
Covlin accused the assistant district attorney of deception during the trial, but the appeal upheld his sentence. In 2023, he did an interview with Piers Morgan in which he vehemently stated that he was not responsible for the murder of his wife but in his statement to the readers, Morgan clearly said that he did not believe him. Currently serving time at the Attica Correctional Facility, Covlin may be eligible for parole in October 2040.
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