The father of a wealthy Manhattan woman who fell to her death down a trash chute in what police ruled was a freak accident when she was drunk is claiming that she was in fact strangled by a hitman hired by her estranged husband to stop her from taking her money in their divorce.
Lara Prychodko, 48, was discovered dead on July 10, 2018, by a maintenance worker after plummeting from the 27th floor of the Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square.
She had last been seen stumbling around drunk in the apartment building. Police ruled her death an accident but her father, Nicholas Prychodko, has long suspected foul play.
On Tuesday, he filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her estranged husband David Schlachet, claiming that he had a hitman strangle her and throw her body down the chute.
Lara and Schlachet were in the middle of a contentious divorce when she died.
According to the lawsuit that was obtained by The New York Post, he stood to lose at least $6million in their divorce. The lawsuit claims that Schlachet hired an unidentified hitman, referred to as John Doe, and met with him multiple times before Lara’s death.
Lara Prychodko, 48, was discovered dead on July 10, 2018, by a maintenance worker after plummeting from the 27th floor of the Zeckendorf Towers in Union Square. Her father Nicholas (above together) believes she was murdered
Lara with her estranged husband David Schlachet. The lawsuit alleges he hired a hitman to strangle her
‘Upon information and belief, during these meetings, Schlachet offered to pay John Doe to murder Lara Prychodko,’ the lawsuit alleges, claiming that the hitman followed her before killing her, into her apartment and near another that she kept nearby.
The lawsuit claims he waited for her to take the elevator to the 27th floor of the apartment building then strangled her and disposed of her body in the chute.
It’s unclear where they think he killed her, or if there are security cameras in his apartment building.
The lawsuit claims that once she was dead, Schlachet then paid the hitman.
Schlachet, the lawsuit claims, then tried to cover up what he had done by planting ‘stories in various news outlets to shift the focus away from himself as a suspect.’
He has never been charged over his estranged wife’s death, nor has anyone else. He has also not yet responded to the allegations in the lawsuit.
He previously told Dateline: ‘What could have happened to her? ‘Was it a suicide? It’s not possible. That’s not Lara. Was it an accident?
‘I very quickly became convinced that there was only one plausible explanation for what took place. And that’s homicide.’
Security footage showed Lara, reportedly intoxicated and stumbling, entering her Zeckendorf Towers building at 4:10pm on July 10 and getting onto the elevator alone.
Lara was seen entering her apartment building in Manhattan’s Union Square alone on the day of her death. She had been drinking at a nearby bar
Her father has always claimed it would have been impossible for her to fall down the garbage chute at her height. The chute is photographed
Lara and David were in the midst of an ugly divorce and custody battle when she died
Nicholas said Lara had gone to nearby bar that day to watch the FIFA World Series Cup semi-finals.
‘Her grandfather is French and she speaks French. So she was a big fan,’ he said.
France beat Belgium in the match that day, which Nicholas said his daughter was ecstatic.
‘The doorman said she was happy. She was high-fiving them. They all loved her because, you know, she was just so friendly and nice,’ said Nicholas.
One of Lara’s neighbors on the 27th floor later told authorities that she returned home around 4:20pm and nothing seemed amiss in the hallway.
But ten minutes later, the neighbor said she heard loud noises coming from the hallway and stepped outside her apartment to investigate.
Although she did not see anyone at the time, she did discover an unattended purse on the floor near the trash compactor.
Authorities would later reveal that the purse belonged to Lara.
At 4:40pm, a maintenance worker stopped by the trash chute after it became jammed. That’s where he found Lara’s body ‘crushed from multiple angles.’
Prychodko has always claimed that his daughter was murdered
A brief investigation by the New York Police Department determined there was no criminal activity involved.
The NYC Office of Chief Medical Examiner announced that Lara’s cause of death ‘undetermined,’ but did note that she had a blood alcohol level of .29 at the time of her death.
‘The circumstances around the death are unclear; however there is no suspicion of foul play,’ the office said.
But Nicholas refuses to believe his daughters death was simply drunken accident.
He told Dateline that the trash chute at Zeckendorf Towers was around 15″ by 18″ with a door and that Lara was tall at 5’10”.
Lara accidentally falling into the trash chute, based on her height, seems implausible to Nicholas – and her friends agree.
Vesna Todorov is both devastated and confused by the death of one of her closer New York City friends.
‘It’s definitely tragic, but it is not a tragic accident,’ Todorov said.
‘That’s what puzzles me. If she fell down the stairs, OK, but not a trash chute. That’s not an accident. Someone did that to her.’