From the beginning, something seemed very odd about the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, who was found floating in the Hudson River last week.
The trailblazing public defender was the first female Muslim judge in U.S. history and the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s highest court.
Authorities initially said there was no signs of homicide and that it appeared to be a suicide, but the conclusion was made before an autopsy was completed. Later, a spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner said that an autopsy conducted on Thursday required further study, but sources for the NY Post say water was found in her lungs suggesting she was alive when she went into the river.
There was also bruising on her neck, but her eyes didn’t show bleeding consistent with strangulation.
Now, the NYPD is seeking people who may be able to shed light on the hours leading up to her disappearance, with hopes of figuring out what happened.
“We’re looking at it as a suspicious death at this point,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis told the Post. “We haven’t found any clear indications of criminality but at this point we can’t say for sure. We’re hoping if anyone could shed any light into the hours before her disappearance, it would help us establish what happened.”
Abdus-Salaam was last seen accepting a package from a delivery man on the morning of April 12. Authorities say there was no forced entry into her home and she left her car, pocketbook, cash, MetroCard and cell phone behind, which can be a sign of a suicidal incident.
There was also the looming knowledge that she suffered from depression and had lost her mother and brother around this time of year; her brother from suicide.
The investigation is ongoing.