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Mary Kennedy was found dead by AA sponsor: Officials

Mary Richardson Kennedy seen outside her Bedford home

Mary Richardson Kennedy seen outside her Bedford home in this 2005 photo provided by Peter Michaelis. Kennedy, the estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr., who had fought drug and alcohol problems, was found dead by her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, officials said. Photo Credit: AP

Mary Richardson Kennedy's body was dug up and moved to a remote area of a Massachusetts cemetery, her family's attorney confirmed Thursday, as Westchester officials released a report saying that it was her Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor who found her dead in May at her Bedford estate.

Mary Kennedy's siblings were blindsided by her husband Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s order to have the casket transferred, said Peter Bienstock, a lawyer for the Richardson family.

"The Richardsons weren't asked," Bienstock said. "The Richardsons weren't informed. The reasons he did it are known only to him."

The burial transfer from one part of St. Francis Xavier Cemetery in Centerville, Mass., to another is the latest twist in the saga of RFK Jr.'s estranged wife, who hanged herself after being locked in a bitter divorce battle with a member of one of America's most storied political families.

The Daily News first reported that Mary Kennedy had been buried near Robert Kennedy Jr.'s aunt and uncle, Eunice, and Sargent Shriver, but was moved 700 feet to an isolated plot away from Kennedy kin on a hill near the cemetery entrance.

Gravedigger Frank Maki told the newspaper that Robert Kennedy Jr. wanted to move her to an area where the Kennedy family is in talks to buy 50 plots.

Maki declined to talk further about the transfer on Wednesday, referring calls to the Kennedy family.

"The original site was negotiated in the courthouse pretty specifically," Bienstock said. "The [Richardson] family was very concerned with access. There was a lot of discussion about precisely where it would be."

Bienstock said he could not say whether the Richardsons would have approved the transfer had they been asked.

A call to Nan Richardson, Mary Kennedy's sister, and an email to Robert Kennedy Jr.'s personal assistant, Mary Beth Postman, on Wednesday were not immediately returned.

The 52-year-old second wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. was found dead in the barn of her Bedford estate on May 16.

An autopsy completed last week revealed that Mary Kennedy took her life with a 9/16 diameter rope that was looped nine times around her neck and caused abrasions on the left side of her neck. Her fingers were caught between her neck and the noose, the autopsy report said, suggesting that she might have had second thoughts as she was committing suicide.

Initial reports said Mary Kennedy's housekeeper found her body, but a document released Thursday from the Westchester medical examiner's office says she was discovered by an unnamed AA sponsor at 1:30 p.m. The body was then transferred to a fire house in Katonah.

The document also foreshadows the coming battle between the Richardsons and Robert Kennedy Jr.

A 6:30 p.m. notation attributed to Mary Kennedy's brother Tom Richardson says: "Richardson family making arrangements. Kennedy family is not to be involved in removal or arrangements."

A 6:40 p.m. notation attributed to Postman, RFK Jr.'s aide, says: "Robert Kennedy is making arrangements for funeral."

Immediately after her death, the Richardsons waged a legal battle against Robert Kennedy Jr. to wrest control of Mary Kennedy's body and have her buried closer to Westchester County. RFK Jr. ultimately won, but the Richardsons consented after protracted discussions on where the body would be buried, Bienstock said.

The medical examiner's autopsy report from last week also revealed that there was no alcohol found in Mary Kennedy's body, but she had taken three antidepressants -- trazadone, venlafaxine and desmethylvenlafaxine.

Mary Kennedy waged a long battle against depression and substance abuse.

Robert F. Kennedy Jr. had filed for divorce from his wife in 2010. He fought, and eventually won, permanent custody of their children: Conor, 18; Kyra, 17; Finn, 15; and Aiden, 11. That same year, Mary Kennedy was arrested on charges of driving while intoxicated and driving under the influence of prescription drugs.

In June, shortly after her death, tensions flared again between the Richardsons and Robert Kennedy Jr. when a magazine published details of a divorce affidavit critical of Mary Kennedy.

The leaked affidavit said that Mary Kennedy pummeled her husband, threatened suicide in front of their children and ran over the family dog.

The Richardsons blamed RFK Jr. for the disclosures and maintained that the document, which said a psychotherapist had diagnosed Mary Kennedy with "borderline personality disorder," was inaccurate.

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