Death of New York’s First Female Judge Ruled Suspicious

Last week, the body of Justice Sheila Abdus-Salaam was found in the Hudson River.

Abdus-Salaam was the first Black female judge and first Muslim judge to serve on New York’s highest court. The NYPD has ruled her death suspicious until it is determined how she died. There were no clear signs of trauma on her body and the autopsy was inconclusive.

Investigators have been looking through several hours of surveillance video for the past few days, but have not been able to put together the hours before Abdus-Salaam’s death.

Reporters were told by NYPD Chief of Detectives Robert Boyce that Abdus-Salaam, 65, spent the weekend in New Jersey with her husband, and her husband last saw her Sunday night around 7 PM. After speaking with her assistant on Tuesday morning, that was the last time anyone heard from her before her body was found 30 hours later in the Hudson River.

Abdus-Salaam’s husband, Rev. Canon Gregory A. Jacobs released a statement on Wednesday saying family members are refuting media reports that she committed suicide.

“Sheila loved Harlem and its people and lived there for nearly all of her adult life,” said Jacobs. “I now join with the NYPD in asking anyone in the neighborhood to step forward with any information that might help us to determine what may have happened during those hours before her death.”

Abdus-Salaam was elected to New York’s Supreme Court in 1993 and served there until 2013. In 2013 she was appointed by New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to the New York State Court of Appeals, which is where she served until her death.