Crime

NYPD: Abdus-Salaam Death Being Treated As 'Suspicious'

| by Jonathan Constante

The New York Police Department is now treating the death of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam as "suspicious."

Abdus-Salaam's body was found floating in the Hudson River on April 12, the New York Post reported. She was last seen by a deliveryman who handed her a package that morning, according to sources.

The judge's husband, Gregory Jacobs, reported her missing after he received a call around noon informing him that she had not shown up for work at the New York State Court of Appeals.

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Police are now investigating how Abdus-Salaam ended up in the water.

"We’re looking at it as a suspicious death at this point," NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said in a statement. "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."

Investigators tried using surveillance video footage for clues to no avail.

"The problem is that where she lives, there’s a dozen ways of going anywhere," one unnamed source said. “No video shows how she got anywhere that day.”

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Police also asked the public for help by issuing an "Information Needed" notice on Twitter.

The Medical Examiner’s Office has not determined an official cause of death at this time. Sources said an autopsy found water in Abdus-Salaam's lungs, which could suggest she was alive when she went into the river, sources said.

Sources added that slight bruising was found around the victim's neck, but her eyes did not show the type of bleeding that would be consistent with strangulation.

Authorities initially ruled Abdus-Salaam's death as a suicide; she had reportedly struggled with depression after her 92-year-old mother committed suicide on Easter Sunday, April 8, 2012, The New York Times reported. Her brother then shot himself two years later around the same holiday.

Lacking any solid evidence that Abdus-Salaam jumped into the water on her own, however, the NYPD is "worried a video could pop up where a guy has her in headlock, or is dragging her, and it’s not a suicide," a source said.

"God forbid someone a year from now says, 'I killed the judge and this is how I did it,'" the same source continued, concerned authorities would have no evidence to refute such a claim. "That’s why they’re sending out these notices. It’s to cover their bases."

Abdus-Salam was the first African-American female to serve on the state's highest court. She was 65-years-old.

Sources: New York Post, The New York Times / Photo Credit: Facebook via Daily Mail, Albany NY/Wikimedia Commons

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