Is it just us or is tonight's episode of Dateline pretty much the real-life version of Legally Blonde? When wealthy finance executive Shele Danishefsky Covlin was found dead in the bathtub of her Manhattan apartment, people thought it was an accident.
Shele's case will be on NBC's Dateline tonight and according to a promotional teaser, her last day went something like this: "Shele's hairdresser came to her apartment to give her hair a keratin treatment. New Year's Eve was the next day, and Shele had a party to go to. She knew to avoid moisture to keep her hair silky after the treatment. But the hairdresser reminded her anyway. No wash. No gym. If it was raining, use a hoodie and an umbrella."
"So Shele went about her day," it continues. "Work, a quick drink with friends, and then home to her kids by 8. That's when their visitation with their father, who lived across the hall, ended. After the kids went to bed, Shele logged into her dating profile. The next morning, her daughter found Shele in the bathroom. At first glance, it appeared she'd had a terrible accident getting in or out of the full bathtub. But why would Shele have taken a bath? She knew it would ruin her hair..."
Her husband, Rod Covlin, was just found guilty of Shele's murder.
Roderick Covlin, 45, was found guilty of killing his wife just two days ago, nine years after the murder. His motive? She'd just served him with divorce papers and wanted to cut him out of her will, and he, an unemployed failed stockbroker, was desperate for her $5 million estate. When their daughter Anna, who was 9 at the time, discovered her mother, she called her father who acted super innocent toward police and family and claimed to even try to revive Shele.
Covlin almost got away with the murder, too, considering Shele's Orthodox Jewish family decided to bury her without an autopsy. But today, despite the fact that "the wheels of justice turn very slowly," her family is relieved they "finally, after nine years, ... have justice for our beloved Shele."
It took over five years to arrest Rod Covlin and take him to trial.
The police initially believed Shele's death was accidental and did not immediately dust for fingerprints or collect DNA. "They even allowed the family's rabbi to clean the bathroom with peroxide, eliminating any evidence of blood," reports The New York Times.
But as suspicions around her death grew, the family eventually had Shele's body exhumed and in 2010, a medical examiner determined that she had been been strangled and that her neck had been snapped "with such force it fractured the hyoid bone, causing bleeding in her right eye," per the Times. At that point, the death was classified as a homicide.
However, it still took until 2015 for Covlin, a self-proclaimed martial arts expert who had previously abused his wife to the point where she was scared for her life and safety, to be charged with her murder. But that's not even the half of his story, which you'll have to watch tonight on Dateline. The case has literally more twists than any episode of Law and Order: Special Victims Unit.
Covlin tried to frame his 9-year-old daughter.
Here are some of the crazy twists that viewers can expect tonight, courtesy of the New York Post: "He plotted conscripting his young daughter to poison his own parents, donning blackface to murder his mother, and marrying off the little girl in Mexico when she turned 14 so he could control her inheritance."
Essentially, after the death of his wife, Covlin was involved in a long custody battle for his two children, which he was desperate to win in order to access their inheritance. Instead, custody was awarded to his own parents. He began to devise a bunch of schemes to kill his parents, heavily inspired by TV shows like Breaking Bad and Dexter, but never followed through.
However, in 2011, he did slam his mother's head into a wall, stole $84,000 from his children's college fund, and in 2013, tried to get his daughter to accuse her grandfather (Covlin's own father) of rape. A later plan involved Covlin kidnapping his daughter and paying someone off to marry her in Mexico, so that she would become emancipated from guardianship and her money could go to him.
But it's somehow his scheme to frame his 9-year-old daughter Anna that's the hardest to swallow. According to court papers, one of Covlin's final acts before being charged with the murder was going into his daughter's phone to compose a note on the Notes app. "I lied," Covlin wrote, pretending to be his daughter. "She didn't just slip."
Where is Rod Covlin today?
Two days ago on Wednesday, Covlin was found guilty of murder in the second degree by a New York State Supreme Court jury. He was being held at the Brooklyn Detention Center during his trial and is likely there until his sentencing, which is scheduled for April 10.
Although the murder of Shele Danishefsky happened almost a decade ago, new details around the case are still emerging. "We are working down to the wire," Dateline correspondent Andrea Canning revealed in a video earlier today.
Don't miss the details of this fascinating case on NBC's Dateline, tonight at 10 p.m.
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