When the lifeless body of New York State Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found floating in the Hudson River last week, authorities declined to offer speculation on the cause of death. Even with no obvious signs of trauma, suspicions of foul play were hard to dismiss in the alarming death of the first black woman to serve as a judge for New York State’s highest court.
Within days of her death, suspicions of suicide surfaced as those who knew her began to reveal a personal life marred by tragedy. The New York Times reported that Abdus-Salaam's mother committed suicide in 2012 around Easter at the age of 92. Her brother shot himself to death around the same time two years later. The timing of her death, along with the fact that she had reportedly confided in friends and a doctor that she was suffering from stress, lent itself to the initial conclusion.
However, according to the New York Post, the NYPD is now changing their tune. After reviewing hours of surveillance videos, authorities have yet to find any surveillance footage from either a convenience store or a mass transit location that would give clues as to Abdus-Salaam's final whereabouts. "We’re looking it at as a suspicious death at this point," NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said. "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."
As the investigation continues, Abdus-Salaam's friends and colleagues continue to mourn the loss. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio paid tribute to the judge, writing: 'Deeply saddened by the tragic passing of Sheila Abdus-Salaam. She was a humble pioneer. My thoughts are with her family.'