Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of environmental activist and attorney Robert F. Kennedy, was found dead Wednesday in what authorities are calling a suicide.
Although the medical examiner has not officially ruled on the cause of death, two individuals with knowledge of the matter said Ms. Kennedy's body was found hanging in a barn behind their Bedford, N.Y., home.
The Bedford Police Department would only say that they are investigating a "possible unattended death."
Formerly Mary Richardson, she had known her future husband for many years through her friendship with his sister, Kerry. She married Kennedy, the son of former senator and presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy who was assassinated in 1968, in 1994 after he divorced his first wife. The couple had four children.
She was the maid of honor at the 1990 wedding of Kerry Kennedy and now-Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York. The couple is now divorced.
Ms. Kennedy was an architect and designer and had overseen the "green" renovation of the couple's home that came to be a showplace for environmentally advanced design.
"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 issue by attorney Kerry Lawrence. "Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation."
"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 in a written statement.
Ms. Kennedy had endured some dark moments in the last few years and had a history of alcohol and drug abuse. She was charged with driving while intoxicated after her husband filed for divorce in 2010 and for driving under the influence of drugs in 2011. The latter charges were eventually dismissed.
Neighbors said they rarely saw the Kennedys whose home was located down a long drive and was covered by a thin forest.
"We left them alone," neighbor Kim Fraioli, a trauma therapist who lives close by told The Associated Press. "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."
An autopsy is scheduled for Thursday morning to determine the exact cause of death.