When the body of prominent New York Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam was discovered on April 12 alongside the Hudson River in Manhattan, family, friends and those who knew her best in the New York community were stunned.
“As the first African-American woman to be appointed to the state’s Court of Appeals, she was a pioneer,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who appointed Abdus-Salaam to the state’s Court of Appeals in 2013, tells the Associated Press. “Through her writings, her wisdom and her unshakable moral compass, she was a force for good whose legacy will be felt for years to come.”
While officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, initially told AP that the death was believed to be a suicide, a spokeswoman for the city’s medical examiner later countered those statements saying that an autopsy conducted on 65-year-old Abdus-Salaam’s body was inconclusive and required further investigation.
With the New York Police Department officially referring to her death as suspicious, below is a timeline of events leading up to Abdus-Salaam’s death.
March 24, 2017:
Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam, who was a 1977 graduate of Columbia University Law School, spoke at her alma mater’s 3rd annual Empowering Women of Color conference on Friday, March 24.
Columbia University Law School remembered the highly-respected judge with a post on their school’s website on April 13 where Dean Gillian Lester wrote, “And, perhaps making this loss most sharply painful, next Tuesday, she was to be the featured speaker at our annual alumni of color gathering, an event that will be postponed in light of this terrible loss.”
Abdus-Salaam was also a committee member for her class’s 40th reunion in June.
Week of March 27, 2017:
Marilyn Mobley, an official at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland and a close friend of Abdus-Salaam, told the New York Times that she met with her friend for breakfast just two weeks before her death in New York.
“What she shared with me is she had been under a lot of stress recently and that she was having trouble sleeping,” said Dr. Mobley. “The truth is she was accomplished, resilient and strong, and she had a breaking point like everyone else. I fear it got there.”
Weekend of April 8, 2017:
Abdus-Salaam often split her time between her New Jersey home that she shared with her husband, Rev. Gregory Jacobs, and her Harlem home. The weekend before her death, AP reports that she spent time in New Jersey with Jacobs.
April 10, 2017:
Judge Abdus-Salaam, who was a cancer survivor, had visited her doctor on Monday and told the physician that she had been “stressed with the demands of work” and “not spending time with her husband,” The New York Times reported.
The 65-year-old was also seen on the subway just two days before her death by longtime friend and former state assemblyman Keith Wright, according to AP.
“Sheila was one of the most rational measured and intellectual folks that I’ve…