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Suspect's Arrest for Kayak Drowning Murder of Fiancée an 'Absolute Surprise' Say Former Father-in-Law

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New York State Police/LANDOV

To at least one person who knows Angelika Graswald, the charge that she murdered her fiancée is unbelievable.

“Absolutely surprised. Absolutely,” Graswald’s ex father-in-law, Richard Graswald, tells PEOPLE. “I couldn’t believe it.”

“How she is being portrayed on the TV is not who I thought she was.”

On April 19, Graswald reported that Vince Viafore, 46, was missing after claiming he disappeared when his kayak capsized, spilling Viafore into the chilly waters of the Hudson River in New York.

Graswald, in another kayak, has claimed she tried to rescue Viafore and ended up in the water herself before being pulled to safety. Although Viafore’s body has not yet been found, Graswald, 35, was charged 11 days later with Viafore’s murder.

Vincent Viafore
New York State Police/LANDOV

On April 28, two days before her arrest, Anjelika Graswald called Richard Graswald to wish him a happy birthday. She didn’t want to say much about the incident at the time, and he didn’t pry, Richard Graswald says.

Wes Gottlock, 70, whose West Windsor, New York, home overlooks the Hudson River, says he and his wife were looking toward Bannerman’s Island on the night of Viafore’s disappearance. It was from that island that Graswald has told investigators the pair pushed off into the night.

“All I can say is that we did see them on the island that evening, through our telescope from our house,” Gottlock tells PEOPLE.

Orange County District Attorney David Hoovler said at a Thursday news conference that Graswald s case will be presented to a grand jury. Gottlock tells PEOPLE he was called to testify before a grand jury convened for Graswald’s case on Monday.

Graswald is being held without bail at the Orange County Jail. Friday, a court clerk told PEOPLE that Graswald’s case was forwarded to the Orange County Legal Aid Society for her possible representation. Calls to their office have not been returned.

Graswald is next due in court on Tuesday.

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