U.S. News

No signs of trauma found on body of Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter

(Reuters) - An autopsy conducted on the 22-year-old granddaughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy found no trauma to her body, leaving the cause and manner of her death to be determined following toxicology tests, the local district attorney’s office said on Friday.

Saoirse Kennedy Hill was rushed to Cape Cod Hospital in Massachusetts shortly after 3 p.m. EDT on Thursday after she was found unresponsive at the Kennedy family’s compound in nearby Hyannis Port, the Cape and Islands District Attorney’s Office said in a written statement.

Hill, the granddaughter of 91-year-old family matriarch Ethel Kennedy, was pronounced dead at the hospital, according to the district attorney’s office.

The New York Times, citing two unnamed people described as close to the Kennedy family, said that Hill was believed to have died of an overdose.

“An autopsy performed today has revealed no trauma inconsistent with lifesaving measures. The cause and manner of death are pending the toxicology report,” the district attorney’s office said in the statement.

The case was under investigation by Barnstable Police and State Police detectives.

Hill was a student at Boston College, where she was a communications major and vice president of the Student Democrats, according to the Times.

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The newspaper said she had written about struggling with depression while a student at a private preparatory school in Massachusetts in 2016.


She was the only child of Paul Michael Hill and Courtney Kennedy Hill, who was the fifth of 11 children of Ethel and Robert Kennedy. Paul Michael Hill was one of the Guildford Four, a group of men wrongly convicted of bombings carried out by the Irish Republican Army in 1974.

“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the Robert F. Kennedy family said in a statement. “Her life was filled with hope, promise and love.”

“The world is a little less beautiful today,” Ethel Kennedy said in the statement.

“A brave young woman left our world yesterday. She left a gaping hold in the lives of all those who loved her dearly,” Saoirse Kennedy Hill’s great aunt, former California first lady Maria Shriver, said on Twitter.

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“May God bless her. May God hold her parents during this unbearable hour and give them the strength to make it thru,” Shriver said.

Ethel Kennedy has endured a series of tragedies that have befallen her family, including the assassination of her husband, then a U.S. senator for New York.

Robert Kennedy was shot to death in Los Angeles just after winning the California primary race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 1968.

Two of Robert and Ethel’s sons suffered untimely deaths - David, of a drug overdose in 1984 at age 28 and Michael at age 39 in a 1997 skiing accident.

Robert Kennedy’s older brother, President John F. Kennedy, was himself assassinated in 1963 in Dallas, and his son, John Jr., died with his wife and sister-in-law in 1999 when the plane he was piloting crashed in the Atlantic off Martha’s Vineyard, not far from Hyannis Port.

Hill’s death comes weeks after the 50th anniversary of a scandal relating to a fatal car accident in which Robert Kennedy’s younger brother, Senator Edward Kennedy, drove off a bridge connecting the tiny island of Chappaquiddick to Martha’s Vineyard, killing his passenger, Mary Jo Kopechne.

The murky circumstances of that crash effectively dashed Edward Kennedy’s presidential ambitions.

Reporting by Dan Whitcomb and Matthew Lavietes; Additional reporting by Steve Gorman in Los Angeles; Editing by Michael Perry, Bill Trott, Susan Thomas and Cynthia Osterman