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Robert Kennedy Jr.’s Estranged Wife Died by Hanging

Mary Richardson Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr.
Mary Richardson Kennedy, right, seen here with Robert F. Kennedy Jr. at a gala fundraiser in Salt Lake City, Utah, on December 4, 2010. Photographer: Michael Buckner/Getty Images

Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., died of asphyxiation due to hanging, the Westchester County, New York, medical examiner said after performing an autopsy.

Kennedy, 52, was found dead yesterday in an outbuilding at her home in Bedford, New York, police said.

Officers who went to the residence on South Bedford Road at about 1:36 p.m. to investigate a possible “unattended death” found the body in an outbuilding on the property, the police said in a statement. The autopsy was conducted this morning.

The hanging was previously reported by the New York Times, which cited two people with knowledge of the matter. The New York Daily News, citing unidentified people, reported that Kennedy committed suicide. The police today confirmed her identity, declining to comment on the cause of death except to say it’s under investigation.

Kennedy’s family released a statement today saying that descriptions of her in the news media since her death have been “wholly inconsistent with the sister we knew and the life she, in fact, lived.”

The family asked the media for “a few days to begin processing Mary’s tragic death and to fully understand all the circumstances around it” before they correct “inaccuracies and misrepresentations.” A private memorial service will be held in Manhattan, the family said.

“We loved Mary and knew her to be an exceptional mother, sibling and friend to many,” her family said in the statement, which was released by Kerry Lawrence, her attorney. “Countless people have described her as an extraordinary mother, selfless in her desire to help others, and one of the finest people in the world.”

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. is the nephew of President John. F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1963. His father, a U.S. attorney general and later a U.S. senator from New York, was a Democratic presidential candidate when he was assassinated in 1968.

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