Exhumed body reveals money manager’s murder
By Murray Weiss
April 10, 2010 4:00am
CHILLING: Last Dec. 31, Shele Danishefsky Covlin was found dead at home on West 68th Street in what looked like a bathtub fall -- but now it's a homicide, and cops want to talk to hubby Rod.
When a beautiful blond money manager was found on New Year’s Eve slumped over in her bathtub with a gash on her head, cops believed she had tragically slipped and fallen to her death.
Her grieving family buried the Upper West Side woman and tried to make sense of their loss. But then they started to question whether it was really an accident.
Now, after taking the rare step of exhuming her body for an autopsy, authorities have concluded Shele Danishefsky Covlin, 47, was strangled — and want to talk to her estranged husband about her murder, The Post has learned.
Shele, a UBS exec who handled hundreds of millions of dollars for clients, was scheduled to meet with a lawyer about removing Rod Covlin, 36, from her will just a day after she was found dead by their 9-year-old daughter, several sources said.
Shele also was embroiled in a divorce suit and fight with Rod — who lived in an apartment across from hers at 155 W. 68th St. — over custody of their daughter and son.
After her death, Shele’s purse and BlackBerry — which detailed meetings with her lawyer about her will and custody dispute — were missing, a family friend said.
Authorities now want to interview Rod, who has himself worked in the financial world, about Shele’s death, which the medical examiner on Thursday concluded was caused by a “neck compression.”
The Manhattan DA’s Office is investigating the crime. Rod Covlin — a top backgammon player who is chairman of the US Backgammon Federation — has not been charged.
“It’s devastating to think that she was murdered,” said Marilyn Chinitz, a lawyer for Shele’s brother and family.
“She was a healthy, beautiful, 47-year-old woman, and no one could understand how she could be dead, and the family could not eat or sit without understanding what happened.”
Rod Covlin, a Columbia and Fordham grad, did not respond to e-mails and calls for comment. His lawyer did not return telephone messages.
Shele, her dad, Joel Danishefsky, and brother Philip Danishefsky in January 2009 left their longtime positions with the Merrill Lynch unit of the Bank of America — where they jointly managed nearly $600 million of client funds — to join the UBS wealth-management division.
After being married for years, Shele and Rod split, and she sued for divorce last year. He moved out into an apartment across the hall.
On Dec. 31, Shele was found dead by her daughter in the bathtub. The daughter then alerted Rod Covlin and let him into the apartment, a source said.
Police at the time said Shele’s death appeared to be accidental, and that a cut on the back of her head was “consistent with a fall.”
She was buried almost immediately, and an autopsy was not performed because she and her family are Orthodox Jews.
But because of circumstances surrounding her death, the DA’s Office made the unusual request for a court order allowing Shele’s body to be exhumed.
“Clearly, it’s a bittersweet finding,” said Chinitz, the Danishefsky family lawyer. “They needed to know and they wanted to know how their daughter and sister died. We look forward to the truth coming out.”
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