Mary Richardson Kennedy and Robert F. Kennedy Jr. in 2009. She was found… (Peter Kramer / Associated…)
NEW YORK — Mary Richardson Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., was found dead on the family’s property north of New York City on Wednesday, two years after her husband filed for divorce and following a history of drug and alcohol problems.
Kerry A. Lawrence, a lawyer who had represented Mary Kennedy in a 2010 drunk driving case, confirmed the death, but neither he nor police in the town of Bedford in Westchester County, N.Y., released a cause of death. An autopsy was scheduled Thursday, the Associated Press reported.
According to a brief statement from Bedford police, officers were called to the Kennedy home in neighboring Mount Kisco at 1:36 p.m. Wednesday “to investigate a possible unattended death.” The statement said that officers found “a deceased person inside an outbuilding” on the property and that an investigation into the cause of death was underway.
Mary Kennedy, 52, was the second wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., a prominent environmentalist and lawyer who is the third child of Ethel and the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy and a nephew of President Kennedy. The couple married in April 1994, about a month after his divorce from Emily Black. They had their first child, Conor, that summer. They also had a daughter, Kyra, and two more sons, William and Aiden.
“Mary inspired our family with her kindness, her love, her gentle soul and generous spirit,” the family of Robert Kennedy said in a statement, according to the Associated Press.
Before marrying Robert Kennedy, Richardson had been a longtime friend of his sister Kerry. The two women met at Putney, a boarding school in Vermont, and later roomed together at Brown University, according to the 1999 book “Girlfriends,” by Jayne Wexler and Lauren Cowan. Richardson had worked as an architectural designer in New York.
“We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her,” said a statement released by the Richardson family and provided to The Times by Lawrence. “Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation.”
Robert Kennedy filed for divorce in May 2010 after 16 years of marriage, the final years of which were marked by several police calls to the family home. In July 2010, Mary Kennedy pleaded guilty to a reduced charge of driving while ability-impaired and had her license suspended for 90 days. She was also ordered to pay a $500 fine.
That case stemmed from an incident in May of that year in which she drove her car over a curb. Police said her blood-alcohol level at the time was .11%. The legal limit is .08%.
Also in 2010, she was charged with driving under the influence of drugs. The case was dismissed the following year.
The Journal News of Westchester County reported that year that the couple had been involved in an altercation in 2007 when he drove her to a hospital. It quoted police in Mount Kisco as saying Robert Kennedy had to hold her down “to keep her from hurting herself.”
The police report did not make clear why Kennedy had taken his wife to the hospital.
The May 2010 drunk driving arrest came two days after police responding to reports of a “domestic incident” at the Kennedy home.