The husband of deceased New York Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam spoke out for the first time this week amid speculation that his wife committed suicide. In a statement provided to NBC News, Episcopal preacher Gregory A. Jacobs denied the reports that came after NYPD officials retrieved Abdus-Salaam’s body from the Hudson River on Wednesday, April 12.
“These reports have frequently included unsubstantiated comments concerning my wife’s possible mental and emotional state of mind at the time of her death,” Jacobs said. “Those of us who loved Sheila and knew her well do not believe that these unfounded conclusions have any basis in reality.”
Earlier this week, the NYPD issued a statement that refers to the 65-year-old judge’s death as “suspicious.”
“We haven’t found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point we can’t say for sure,” NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said.
— NYPD 26th Precinct (@NYPD26Pct) April 18, 2017
Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman to serve on New York’s highest court, married Jacobs last June, The Christian Post reported. Though several news outlets honored the judge as the first Muslim to serve on New York’s First Appellate Division of the State Supreme Court, family members and colleagues have noted that Abdus-Salaam was not Muslim.
“Sheila has not been a practicing Muslim for the past 20 years,” Abdus-Salaam’s family said in a statement provided to NBC. “She continued to use her first husband’s surname professionally.”
Appeals court spokesman Gary Spencer also clarified the misleading reports.
“It is true that she was not a Muslim, although she did not care if people thought she was,” Spencer told USA TODAY in an email.
In his statement, Jacobs pleaded with the public for help in the investigation into his wife’s untimely death.
“I now join with the NYPD in asking anyone in the neighborhood to step forward with any information that might help us determine what may have happened during those hours before her death,” he said.
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