RFK Jr.’s Estranged Wife Died of Hanging: Autopsy Report

The mother of four and member of the storied Kennedy clan was found dead Wednesday afternoon in what medical examiners have ruled asphyxiation by hanging.

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UPDATE: According to results of an autopsy performed Thursday by New York’s Westchester County Medical Examiner’s office, Mary Richardson Kennedy died of asphyxiation by hanging, ABC News reports, although the death has not yet been officially ruled a suicide. Her body was found in an outbuilding on the family’s property in Bedford, N.Y.

A tragic family misfortune has befallen the Kennedys once again. On Wednesday afternoon, Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy, Jr.  was found dead at the family’s estate in suburban New York. While no official cause of death has been released, multiple media outlets are reporting that she committed suicide — according to some, by hanging herself in a barn on the estate. An autopsy of her body is slated for Thursday, the Associated Press reports.

A statement issued on behalf of the family by Robert Kennedy Jr.’s chief of staff said, “Mary was a genius at friendship, a tremendously gifted architect and a pioneer and relentless advocate of green design who enhanced her cutting edge, energy efficient creations with exquisite taste and style.” The family also emphasized her devotion to her children.

(MORE: The Kennedys Face Death: The Agony of Grieving in Public)

The mother of four, architect and designer struggled with alcohol and drug abuse in recent years, according to the AP. Her husband filed for divorce in 2010 after she was arrested twice for incidents involving alcohol and drugs. The latter charge of driving under the influence of drugs were dropped after a judge ruled Kennedy was unaware that medication had impaired her ability to drive.

But through it all, family members and friends vehemently supported Mary Richardson. Robert Kennedy Jr.’s sister, Kerry Kennedy, penned a letter at the time that said, “When I look at my three daughters, my wish for them is that they are as blessed as I have been to have a companion, a confidante, a friend, like Mary Richardson.”

Kennedy, born Mary Richardson, had been a longtime friend of the Kennedy family before marrying Robert Kennedy Jr. in 1994 aboard a research boat in the Hudson River. The couple shared a passion for environmental issues. A boarding school friend, she  served as Kerry Kennedy’s maid of honor in her marriage to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in 1990.

The tale of the “Kennedy Curse” has existed for decades, reemerging with every unexpected death that America’s beloved family suffers. The assassination of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s father, RFK, and his uncle and former U.S. President John F. Kennedy, are just two of the most famed examples. Robert Kennedy Jr.’s brother, David Kennedy, died in a drug overdose in 1984, and his cousin, JFK Jr., and his wife, Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy, perished in a plane crash a decade later. His uncle, Massachusetts Senator Ted Kennedy, died in 2009 after a struggle with brain cancer.

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