Authorities are now calling the death of a prominent New York judge “suspicious.”
The body of Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found floating along the Hudson River near Harlem earlier this month after a family member reported her missing. Abdus-Salaam was the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state’s highest court.
Last week, New York police said the judge’s death appeared to be a suicide but are now treating her death as suspicious, as there were no obvious signs of trauma or criminality.
“When a body is found floating in a river, it’s deemed suspicious in nature,” NYPD Sgt. Brendan Ryan told ABC News. “We have a middle-aged woman deceased in the water with all her clothes on with no signs of homicide or suicide.”
“Absent [of] any clear signs of criminality, the cause of death is determined by the medical examiner,” he added.
Investigators have spent days combing through hours of surveillance video in an attempt to track the final whereabouts of the trailblazing judge, the New York Post reported. The Medical Examiner’s office hasn’t determined the cause or manner of Abdus-Salaam’s death, saying the autopsy performed on April 13 was inconclusive and required further evaluation.
“We haven’t found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point, we can’t say for sure,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said. “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 appointed to New York’s Supreme Court in 1993 where she remained until 2009. She was serving on the New York State Court of Appeals, the state’s highest court, at the time of her death.