The autopsy of Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., finds that she died from hanging, authorities said Thursday.
Kennedy, 52, was found dead at her home in Bedford, N.Y. on Wednesday. The Westchester County Medical Examiner's office said she died from asphyxiation due to hanging.
Police had been called to the property at 326 South Bedford Road at 1:36 p.m. to investigate a "possible unattended death."
Kennedy's body was found inside "an out building on the property," Bedford police said.
Robert Kennedy Jr. is a prominent environmental lawyer. He's the son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and nephew of President John F. Kennedy, both assassinated in the 1960s. Mary Kennedy was his second wife. They had four children.
In a statement issued by Robert Kennedy Jr.'s chief of staff, the family said Mary Kennedy "inspired our family with her kindness, her love, her gentle soul and generous spirit."
"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 said.
Mary Kennedy was an architect and designer and had overseen the renovation of the couple's home into an environmentally advanced showpiece.Her family cited her devotion to her children in remembering her.
"We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her," the family said in a statement issued by attorney Kerry Lawrence. "Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation."
The former Mary Richardson had known the Kennedys for years, through her friendship with Robert Kennedy Jr.'s sister, Kerry Kennedy, whom she met at boarding school. She had been Kerry Kennedy's maid of honor at her wedding in 1990.
Mary Kennedy had had trouble with drugs and alcohol and had two high-profile arrests around the time her husband filed for divorce in July 2010.
She was charged that August with driving under the influence of drugs, not long after she pleaded guilty to drunken driving when police reported her seeing her car hit a curb outside a school near her home.
Police said she had a blood-alcohol level of 0.11 percent; the legal limit is 0.08 percent. Her license was suspended.
At the time of her sentencing, famous family and friends spoke in support of her.
Her mother-in-law, Ethel Kennedy, wrote in a letter that she "is a caring, nourishing mother who has nursed her four children through lifelong bouts of debilitating allergies," according to an account in the local newspaper, The Journal News, at the time.
Kerry Kennedy, in her letter, 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."
The unexpected death of another person connected to the storied Kennedy clan brought to mind the other sorrows the famous family has suffered.
Shopping in Bedford, Diane Glokler said, "I've always just thought that family is very tragic. They keep having tragic things happening to them. It's heart-wrenching.''
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