RFK granddaughter dies; police awaiting the toxicology reports

Friday, August 2, 2019

BOSTON (AP) — Authorities said Friday they are looking to toxicology reports for clues to the death of Saoirse Kennedy Hill, a granddaughter of assassinated presidential candidate Robert F. Kennedy.

The Kennedy family confirmed the death in a statement after police responded to a call Thursday afternoon about a possible drug overdose at the storied Kennedy compound in Hyannis Port, Massachusetts. The statement was issued by Brian Wright O’Connor, a spokesman for Saoirse Hill’s uncle, former congressman Joseph P. Kennedy II.

Hill was the daughter of Robert and Ethel Kennedy’s fifth child, Courtney, and Paul Michael Hill, who was one of four people falsely convicted in the 1974 Irish Republican Army bombings of two pubs. The two are now divorced.

“She lit up our lives with her love, her peals of laughter and her generous spirit,” the statement said, adding she was passionate about human rights and women’s empowerment and worked with indigenous communities to build schools in Mexico.

Hill, whose first name is pronounced SIR-shuh, attended Boston College, where she was a member of the class of 2020. The college issued a statement Friday saying she was a communications major and “a gifted student.”

“She was also active in the College Democrats, and had many friends on the BC campus,” spokesman Jack Dunn said.

The Cape & Islands district attorney’s office said Barnstable police responded to a home “for a reported unattended death.” Barnstable police and Massachusetts State Police detectives were investigating. The district attorney’s office said Friday that Hill was taken to Cape Cod Hospital, where she was pronounced dead. It said an autopsy showed no signs of trauma, and that toxicology reports would help determine the cause and manner of death.

The family statement did not include a cause of death, but audio of a Barnstable police scanner call obtained by The Associated Press said officers were responding to a report of a drug overdose at the compound.

“The world is a little less beautiful today,” the Kennedy family statement quoted Hill’s 91-year-old grandmother and RFK’s widow, Ethel Kennedy, as saying.

Hill had written frankly and publicly about her struggles with mental health and a suicide attempt while in high school. “My depression took root in the beginning of my middle school years and will be with me for the rest of my life,” she wrote in a February 2016 column in The Deerfield Scroll, the student newspaper at Deerfield Academy, the elite private school in Massachusetts she attended.

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