Ten years ago Upper West Sider girl Shele Danishefsky married Rod Covlin, of Scarsdsale, New York. Shele’s family were prominent financial planners and active in the Lincoln Square shul on the Upper West Side. Covlin was an abusive husband. Shele had two children with Rod. Shele stayed in an abusive relationship for close to ten years before she decided to file for divorce. After ten years she applied for a restraining order. But the restraining order came too late. Rod strangled Shele in the bathroom of their Upper West Side apartment and put her in the bathtub to make it look like she slipped and fell. Her 9 year old daughter discovered her in the bathtub.
The police investigated Shele’s death. Police usually suspect murder when there is a history of domestic violence. Rod was the prime suspect. In the meantime Shele’s Orthodox Jewish father did not want his daughter to undergo an autopsy, as autopsies are not permitted by Jewish law. Rod did not want Shele to undergo an autopsy, for obvious reasons. Rod wasn’t Orthodox, he just went along with his wife. Shele took the kids to the Lincoln Square Shul every Shabbos. Rod rarely showed up. Rod tried, but failed, to get Shele’s father to agree to have Shele buried in Israel. Rod knew that if Shele was buried in Israel her body would have never been able to be exhumed, which was eventually done by the NYPD. Rod claimed that Shele had a deep connection to Israel and wanted to be buried there.
After Shele’s death Rod took the kids to live with his parents in Scarsdale. Shele’s kids were withdrawn from the pricey private Manhattan Jewish Day school and enrolled in the public schools of Westchester. Rod quickly hooked up with a girlfriend named Debra Oles, whom he frequently took to his parents. Rod constantly fought with his parents. Rod dipped into his children’s college trust accounts in order to pay his bills. His parents called him a thief and a deadbeat and told him he had to move out. Rod didn’t work while he lived with his parents. Rod had a stockbrokers license but refused to work. Rod had lived off the earnings of his wife for years. Rod’s fighting with his parents escalated to a point where Rod threatened to kill his own parents. A custody battle ensued over Rod’s kids.
When Shele’s body was exhumed by the New York Police Department it was determined that she was strangled to death. Rod was arrested and charged with murder. Rod denied the charges and went to trial. Rod was convicted and sentenced to 25 years to life. Rod vowed to appeal. Rod cried when the jury read the verdict.
Debra Oles testified during Rod’s recent trial. Debra was now Rod’s ex-girlfriend. She described Rod as a “monster.” Debra said she initially he was nice, but as time went on his true side came out. Debra testified that Rod plotted to kill his own parents in order to get custody of his kids.
During Rod’s murder trial the New York prosecutors argued that Rod’s motive for killing Shele was money. Shele filed for divorce and was changing her will to cut him out of a $5 million estate. Shele also had a $1 million life insurance policy which Rod tried to collect on. The life insurance company filed a lawsuit in Federal court in order to get the Court to determine the proper heirs to the insurance proceeds, as Rod was a suspect in the murder. Life insurance policies have clauses that prevent payments to beneficiaries accused of murdering the policy holder. Prosecutors don’t have to prove a motive in a murder trial. As long as you had the mens rea, ie., intent to commit the crime, you can be charged and convicted. Killing another human being has nothing to do with money. Killing another person has to do with exerting power and control over another individual. Power battles go on all the time in human interactions and relationships. Killing is the most extreme.
During sentencing Rod’s children sent letters of support for their father. Rod’s son is 13 and his daughter is 18. They said that they lost one parent and didn’t want to lose another. The kids don’t seem to be concerned about future victims. The only redeeming quality to Rod is that he is a backgammon champion. Rod will have plenty of time to play backgammon for the next 25 years in New York State prison. The Aleph Institute will be delivering Passover matzohs to Rod next week. Every Jew is capable of repentance, even reprobates like Rod.
Rod hired high powered Attorney Robert Gottlieb. Rod probably couldn’t afford the New York lawyer of choice for defendants charged with high crimes and misdemeanors, ie., Ben Braffman. Gottlieb is no slacker. Gottlieb worked as an assistant district attorney in Manhattan under the legendary Robert Morgenthau. Gottlieb currently represents Anthony Comello, the guy who gunned down Gambino mob boss Franky Boy Cali in front of Franky’s house in Staten Island. Comello was mad at Cali because Cali wouldn’t let Comello date Cali’s niece. Comello won’t live long enough to stand trial for his crime. I hope Attorney Gottlieb was paid up front.
May the Jews be redeemed before the first Passover seder. Moshiach NOW!
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