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May 19, 2019

Retired NYPD detective grilled about shoddy murder investigation in Upper West Side woman’s strangling

February 22, 2019
Det. Frank Brennan is seen on the witness stand in State Supeme Court on February 21st, 2019. Brennan testified for the prosecution today in the spousal murder trial of Roderick Covlin. (Alec Tabak for New York Daily News)

A former NYPD detective who worked an Upper West Side woman’s mysterious death a decade ago was grilled Thursday about the problem-ridden probe.

Shele Covlin, who was found lifeless in her bathtub on Dec. 31, 2009, in her W. 68th St. home, was buried without an autopsy due to her family’s religious beliefs wishes — and after officials initially believed she died accidentally.

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The healthy 47-year-old woman had visible injuries. Her estranged husband Roderick Covlin, 46, now on trial for her slaying, lived across the hall and there was a restraining order in her favor.

Yet basic investigation techniques were not done.

“The laptop on the kitchen table, the dining room table,” Roderick’s lawyer Robert Gottlieb posed to Det. Frank Brennan at Covlin’s trial for second-degree murder. “Was it sent for fingerprint analysis?”

Brennan said there was no DNA test or forensic review.

He also said the broken cabinet door above the tub — which Covlin claimed Shele clutched as she fell “accidentally” — was not recovered or tested.

Items were moved or removed between February 2010 and June 2010, evidence shows. A self-proclaimed rabbi sanitized evidence of blood and bodily fluids on Jan. 1, 2010, the day after she died.

Brennan said detectives were handcuffed without an official homicide finding by the medical examiner’s office — that came in April 2010 after her body was exhumed. Shele died from neck compression.

“All we could do was interview witnesses” for the months, Brennan insisted, later admitting they had permission to search for and secure items from Shele’s family.

His partner, lead Det. Carl Roadarmel, earlier testified he expected an autopsy to be done at the outset.

“I figured because of the bruising on her face and the bruising on her hand,” he said.

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