The husband of a New York judge found floating in the Hudson River has made an anguished plea to the public to help solve her death. In a statement to NBC News, the Rev. Gregory Jacobs rejected claims his wife, Sheila Abdus-Salaam, the first African-American woman to sit on the state's high court, committed suicide. Abdus-Salaam, 65, was found in the river in Upper Manhattan on April 12, one day after her husband reported her missing, per the Washington Post. She was wearing sweats, and her body showed no signs of trauma. Although police called the death suspicious, they're calling it a probable suicide. Breaking his silence, Jacobs dismissed "unsubstantiated comments concerning my wife's possible mental and emotional state of mind." He added, "Those of us who loved Sheila and knew her well do not believe that these unfounded conclusions have any basis in reality."
The medical examiner has not established a cause of death. The Episcopal minister appealed to "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." While some friends expressed doubt Abdus-Salaam took her own life, others told the New York Times she was stressed and struggling under the pressure of a heavy caseload. The judge's extended family also countered reports she was the first woman Muslim judge, telling NBC the former Sheila Turner hadn't practiced the religion in 20 years, and used her first husband's name professionally. "We will forever remember witnessing her happiness as she united in marriage to an Episcopal priest last year," they said.