A medical examiner in suburban New York says the estranged wife of Robert Kennedy Jr. died of asphyxiation due to hanging.
A person familiar with the investigation into Mary Richardson Kennedy's death says that authorities have concluded that she hung herself. The person was not authorized to release the information, and spoke on condition of anonymity.
Mary Richardson Kennedy was discovered dead Wednesday on the family's property in Bedford.
She was 52, and had struggled with drug and alcohol charges in recent years.
An autopsy was performed Thursday morning.
Kerry Lawrence, a White Plains attorney who had represented Mary Kennedy in a drunken-driving case, also confirmed Kennedy's death, but he, too, would not discuss details surrounding the tragedy.
"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 Richardson family said in a statement issued through Lawrence. "Our heart goes out to her children, who she loved without reservation."
Mary Kennedy was an architect and designer specializing in "green" design who, in 1994, married Robert F. Kennedy Jr., an environmental lawyer and a son of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy. The couple had four children together, the youngest of whom was born in 2001.
On Thursday morning, people who knew the family, and some strangers, as well, dropped by home to leave flowers at the front door.
"I think every family has its tragedies. But this is too much. You have to feel for them," said Kim O'Connell, 59, of Bedford Hills, as she dropped off a bouquet of Calla lilies. She said she had met Mary and Robert while working at their health club.
Mary Kennedy worked with local charities, including the Boys & Girls Club of Northern Westchester, where she volunteered for nearly a decade.
The Kennedys hosted a fund-raiser tour of their newly renovated eco-friendly home in the spring of 2010. Just weeks later, Mary Kennedy's life began to publicly unravel.
On May 10, 2010, Mary Kennedy called 911, summoning police to her home.
Responding officers reported her to have been "visibly intoxicated" and noted that she had "great difficulty collecting her thoughts and articulating her reasons for calling." She told police her husband was "verbally abusive to herself and her children."
Two days later, Robert F. Kennedy Jr., 58, filed to divorce his wife of 16 years.
The following day, Bedford police responded to the Kennedy home again for a "domestic incident" during which he alleged his wife was intoxicated, records show.
On May 15, 2010, Mary Kennedy was charged with driving while intoxicated after she drove into a curb outside St. Patrick's School in Bedford. Kennedy eventually pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of driving while ability impaired, a violation, in the Bedford arrest.
When she pleaded to the lesser charge, several people wrote letters on her behalf, describing her to the court as "caring" and "compassionate."
Kerry Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s sister, described Mary Kennedy as a "dedicated mother" and "insightful counselor."
"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 confidant, a friend like Mary Richardson," Kerry Kennedy wrote.
Shortly after the drunken-driving arrest in May 2010, the Journal News discovered that Robert F. Kennedy Jr., concerned about his wife's mental state, had attempted to drive her to Northern Westchester Hospital to see a psychologist in September 2007. She resisted and, according to Mt. Kisco police records, ran from the car into the road.
"I remember she was acting kind of out of it, kind of crazy," a witness, Rae Kesten, told the Journal News in 2007. "She was running into the street and flailing her arms around. He was trying to restrain her. I didn't know if they were fighting or not, but I was concerned."
Mary Kennedy was again arrested Aug. 21, 2010. A state police officer stopped her after observing her driving at a high rate of speed on the Taconic State Parkway in the Town of Pleasant Valley in Dutchess County and found she had taken prescription medication before getting on the road in her 2004 Volvo.
She apparently had been on her way to yoga class and was said to have been traveling 82 m.p.h.
On July 12, 2010, Pleasant Valley Justice Paul Caltagirone dismissed the charge of driving while ability impaired by drugs.
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."
Neighbor Leslie Lampert, who owns the Cafe of Love restaurant a short drive from the Kennedy home, said Mary Kennedy was "at all times just a lovely individual."
"She was community oriented," Lampert said. "She was always kind in our presence."
Another neighbor, Kim Fraioli, a trauma therapist who lives a few houses down from the Kennedys, said the family was private.
"We left them alone," Fraioli. "We didn't have any interaction. I think it's a tragedy. It's very sad for their family and the surviving children. My heart goes out to the family."