BEDFORD, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The tragedy of Mary Richardson Kennedy’s suicide has apparently deepened into a battle over her remains.
Her family went to court Friday to wrestle control of her body from the powerful Kennedy family, CBS 2’s Marcia Kramer reported.
It gives new meaning to the term family feud. Mary Kennedy’s family members are fighting estranged husband Robert F. Kennedy Jr. for custody of her body.
For openers, they reportedly want control over where she will be buried. The funeral director told CBS 2’s Kramer things were at a standstill, but a spokesman for the Kennedy family told CBS 2’s Derricke Dennis late Friday night that the issues had been settled.
“She loved everyone. That’s all I know about Mary. She loved everyone. And she doesn’t want anybody to be fighting,” Douglass Kennedy said.
“I can’t imagine in a divorce … families react in the ways that they need to so I can’t fault her family or theirs — the Kennedys. Everyone has to do it their way,” friends Christine Moffat said.
Moffat was a friend of Mary Kennedy’s, but she wasn’t taking sides Friday in the ugly tug-of-war between the Richardsons and the Kennedys in the wake of the troubled mother of four’s suicide. The estranged wife of environmental activist RFK Jr. hanged herself in a barn behind the home on Wednesday after years of battling substance and depression problems.
“She’s been through a lot the last couple of years here and I think most people really felt for her,” Moffat said.
The Richardson and Kennedy families were once close. Mary Kennedy was the maid of honor at Kerry Kennedy’s marriage to Andrew Cuomo and was her best friend, but the families have been estranged since RFK Jr. filed for divorce from Mary and tried to get custody of their children.
“She struggled, she struggled so hard for so long with mental illness, which so many Americans struggle with. And she fought that battle throughout that life and she fought it with dignity and love, and, you know, in the end the demons won,” Kerry Kennedy said.
“This world was just not made for somebody that good.”
“Everybody loved her, she was a part of our family from when I was very young. So we’re all gonna miss her,” Douglass Kennedy added.
After her death, RFK Jr. reportedly ordered her sisters to leave the house where Mary Kennedy took her life. They allegedly had to go to Bedford Police to gain entry and to retrieve her personal affects.
And they bitterly disagreed over funeral arrangements made by RFK Jr., especially plans to bury her in Hyannis Port, Mass.
RFK Jr. told the New York Times his wife struggled with depression and was “in a lot of agony for a lot of her life. A lot of times, I don’t know how she made it through the day.”
The feud was the talk of the town on Friday.
“Well, I can understand that. There’s lots of people with families that don’t agree,” Bedford resident Lorraine Machini said.
“It’s just dysfunction, alcoholism. What can you say? A human tragedy and it does not benefit anyone in anyway,” resident Martin Williams added.
“It’s a shame they just can’t come together for the sake of the children,” Rosetta Jackson said.
Two years ago, Mary Kennedy opened her home to the press, proudly showing off restorations that had transformed the three-story brick house built in the 1920s on South Bedford Road into a modern eco-friendly residence.
On Friday night, friends and family gathered at that same home for her wake. The Kennedys tried desperately to keep it private. Police put up “no parking” signs on the street leading to the house and flower arrangements were viewed only from a distance. As guests arrived they politely decline interviews and were met by RFK Jr. upon entering the home.
1010 WINS’ Al Jones reports
Both the Kennedys and the Richardsons are planning a separate, private memorials for the 52-year-old mother of four.
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