(NEW YORK) — The body of Robert Kennedy Jr.’s wife, Mary Richardson Kennedy, was released by authorities to a funeral home Friday amid a family struggle over burial rights.
The body was released after her estranged husband got a court order directing the Westchester County medical examiner turn over the body to the Clark Associates Funeral Home. Clark Associates has been preparing for a funeral at Kennedy’s request.
The Medical Examiner’s office had refused to release Kennedy’s body to Clark Associates because Mary Kennedy’s siblings and her estranged husband’s family were fighting over where she would be buried, multiple sources told ABC News.
Clark Associates expects a private wake either Friday night or Saturday morning at one of the family’s homes, and then a funeral at 10 a.m. Saturday. The location was not disclosed.
The Kennedys planned to bury her near the Kennedy family’s compound in Hyannisport, Mass., on Cape Cod.
Mary Kennedy, 52, died Wednesday of asphyxiation from hanging at her home in Westchester County, N.Y., according to the medical examiner. Kennedy and her husband, Robert Kennedy, Jr., had been separated since 2010 but were not legally divorced.
Mary Kennedy’s brothers and sister, however, are planning a sunset memorial Monday night at the Standard Hotel in Manhattan. Mary Kennedy grew up in New Jersey, where her father was a professor at Stevens Institute of Technology in Hoboken. Her mother lived in Bayonne, N.J., until her death.
“The first task is for Mary’s family to take her to her final resting place, with the dignity and love she deserves,” her siblings wrote in a statement released today.
None of Mary Kennedy’s family returned calls from ABC News for comment on their sister’s death. They released the statement to combat what they saw as a mischaracterization of their sister in news reports following her death, they wrote.
“She was generous, thoughtful, with a refined aesthetic, genius organizational abilities, boundless energy, physical stamina, and natural elegance. She laughed a lot. Her enthusiasms were deep. She loved to connect people, with no self-interest, and with great intelligence,” the statement read.
Following her death, Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., told the New York Times that his estranged wife had been struggling with depression.
“A lot of times I don’t know how she made it through the day,” Kennedy, Jr., told the newspaper. “She was in a lot of agony for a lot of her life.”
The pair had broken up in 2010 and Mary Kennedy faced difficulties with alcohol during the intervening years. She was arrested for driving under the influence of alcohol and driving under the influence of drugs on two different occasions.
The couple had four children together.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Chuck Johnston, CNN Newswire
Ray Sanchez, CNN Newswire