January 30, 2012. High Profile Divorce and Murder Case Grips New York
By Anne Cantelo
In a tangled tragedy that seems more like a wrenching episode of Law and Order than something that happens in “real life,” the death of successful Manhattan financial professional Shele Colvin, whose body was found by one of her two children in a bathtub on New Year’s Eve in 2009, has led to an ongoing homicide investigation, a bitter battle over the deceased’s estate, and a whirlwind of speculation that is likely to grow even more tense and dramatic as 2012 unfolds.
The figure at the center of much of this speculation is Shele Colvin’s widowed spouse, Roderick (Rod) Covlin. The two were embroiled in a bitter divorce battle, and according to papers filed in court, Shele scheduled a meeting with an estate planning lawyer on January 1, 2010 in order to remove her soon-to-be-ex as benefactor of her estate — and therefore potentially deprive him of millions of dollars should he outlive her. It was a meeting that she never attended, because one day earlier she was found dead.
Since then, Shele’s family maintained that Rod was behind the tragedy, calling him the “prime suspect” in her murder. Shele’s family has also filed papers in several different courts in Westchester County and New York City, aiming to keep Rod from taking custody of his two children (now aged 11 and 5), and receiving his 50% share of Shele’s $4 million dollar estate.
“[Shele] was fearful for her life, believed Rod intended to kill her, and there was some urgency to make changes in her will. Two individuals, including the attorney, scheduled to meet with her,” the family stated in documents filed in Surrogates Court in Manhattan.
Despite the swirl, gossip and repeatedly breached gag-orders that have dotted this complex legal scenario since it began, no arrests have been made, and Rod’s lawyer contends that his client, contrary to formal and informal allegations, is not a suspect.
“There is no basis to even consider charging Mr. Covlin with the tragic death of his wife,” commented Rod’s defense attorney Robert Gottlieb. “There has been a great deal of false statements spread by Shele’s family members that have been intended solely to falsely convince the public that Mr. Covlin is responsible for his wife’s death.”
The custody and estate distribution matters are still before the courts, and the homicide investigation into Shele’s death continues. Though, as mentioned, no arrests have yet been made, two insurance company’s aren’t taking any changes. They’ve filed papers saying that if Rod is charged and convicted of his wife’s murder, he won’t get a penny.
(With files from The Wall Street Journal)