Cases and Deals

Blank Rome Attorneys Secure Justice in the Murder of Shele Danishefsky Covlin

A Blank Rome team led by Marilyn B. Chinitz and Jerry D. Bernstein, along with the involvement of Hirsh Cogan, Stephen McSweeney, Inbal Paz Garrity, and Ryan J. Casson, played a key role in securing justice on behalf of Shele Danishefsky Covlin, who was found dead in the bathtub of her apartment on December 31, 2009, in what first appeared to be an accidental drowning. Ms. Covlin’s estranged husband, Roderick Covlin, lived across the hall and was called by his daughter when she found her mother’s body. The authorities accepted his story that his wife had fallen in the bathtub and drowned, thereby leading to her burial without an autopsy in accordance with her Orthodox Jewish faith.

Over the next few weeks, Ms. Covlin’s family became increasingly concerned that foul play was involved and hired Blank Rome to assist them in handling not only the criminal investigation, but also the custody issues involving Ms. Covlin’s two children. Our attorneys were instrumental in obtaining an ex parte order to have Ms. Covlin’s body exhumed and sent to the medical examiner’s office, on the mounting evidence compiled by private investigators that she was in fact murdered by her husband in order to inherit her substantial fortune. The couple were in the midst of a contentious divorce, which included Ms. Covlin obtaining an order of protection against her husband that resulted in him being excluded from their marital home. On the same day that she was found dead, Ms. Covlin had planned to cut him out of her will.

When the autopsy revealed that she had indeed been murdered by strangulation, our attorneys collaborated with the District Attorney’s office to painstakingly build a circumstantial case against Mr. Covlin. During this time, they also fought for custody of the two children and prevented Mr. Covlin from collecting on his murdered wife’s life insurance policy and inheritance. Mr. Covlin was finally indicted in November 2015, and his trial began in December 2018. Following a nine-week trial in Manhattan Supreme Court, the jury convicted Mr. Covlin of murder.

To learn more about this case, please read He Wanted His Wife’s Fortune. So He Killed Her, Then Tried Framing His Daughter (The New York Times, March 13, 2019).