The “lost and alone” estranged wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jr. hanged herself Wednesday in a barn behind her Westchester home — the latest tragedy to claim a member of the famed Camelot clan.
The Kennedys, who married in 1994, split almost exactly two years ago in what friends say was a devastating blow to Mary.
The May 2010 divorce filing, coupled with the media frenzy following her arrest for drunken driving three days later, started Mary Kennedy on a tragic downward spiral that ended with her suicide on her Bedford property, friends said.
She had struggled with alcohol for years and went into rehab in February, a family friend told the Daily News.
“She always seems lost these days, whenever she came into the village,” said a neighbor. “Lost and alone and sort of out of it.”
Her husband, a prominent environmentalist and high-profile member of the Kennedy dynasty, has been living primarily in California, palling around with movie stars and dating TV actress Cheryl Hines.
Mary Kennedy had not found a new romance.
News of her suicide stunned her family and friends.
“She’s my best friend,” said her sister-in-law, Kerry Kennedy, who introduced Mary Kennedy to her brother.
“Our whole family is devastated by the loss and we appreciate everyone’s prayers.”
Bedford police responded to the house at 1:36 p.m. to investigate a “possible unattended death,” according to a press release. It was not immediately clear when she died.
The children were away from home — the two oldest at boarding school and the two youngest with their father, family sources said.
Photo: Richard Harbus for New York Daily News
Emergency crews rushed to the Kennedy estate, but there was little they could do.
One family source said Mary Kennedy was due to fight her husband for custody, but that could not be confirmed.
An autopsy will be performed Thursday, said Westchester County spokesman Kieran O’Leary.
A somber RFK Jr. arrived at the house late Wednesday amid a stream of mourners. He said nothing to gathered reporters.
Mary Kennedy had hanged herself in one of the outer buildings of her Westchester County property.
“We deeply regret the death of our beloved sister Mary, whose radiant and creative spirit will be sorely missed by those who loved her,” Mary Kennedy’s family said in a statement.
“Our heart goes out to her children who she loved without reservation.”
She had overseen the renovation of the couple’s home into an environmental showpiece.
Family and friends descended on the red brick mansion Wednesday night, bringing food, flowers and comfort.
“Why? This is terrible. We don’t need this,” said one teary-eye woman holding a bouquet.
Mary Kennedy was working as an architectural designer in Manhattan when she became the Kennedy heir’s second wife just three weeks after he divorced his first bride.
She had been friends with the family for years, since meeting Kennedy’s sister, Kerry, when they were teenagers. They were so close they chose to room together at Brown University, and Mary was Kerry’s maid of honor in 1990.
Mary and Robert Kennedy tied the knot on a boat on the Hudson River.
A Catholic Mass was followed by a civil ceremony, with Kennedy’s two children from his first marriage on deck with the bride and groom.
They had four kids together — Connor, Kyra, William and Aiden — before he filed for divorce on May 12, 2010.
Mary Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and their daughter Kyra LeMoyne Kennedy attend the RFK Center Ripple of Hope Awards dinner at Pier Sixty at Chelsea Piers in Nov. 2009.
Three days later, she was arrested for driving under the influence after police saw her drive over a curb outside a school carnival.
She failed a number of sobriety tests and her blood-alcohol level registered 0.11. The criminal charge was dismissed and she was given a one-year conditional release.
On Aug. 21, 2010, she was pulled over in Dutchess County and arrested for driving under the influence of drugs.
She had mixed prescription medications. The charge was later dismissed.
“Bobby tried really, really hard to shield the kids from her condition,” a source said.
The divorce that so upset her has not yet been finalized.
Neighbors in Bedford called Mary Kennedy a lovely woman who was active in community and school affairs, but had recently seemed a “bit off” — either medicated or intoxicated. But a friend of Mary’s told The News that Mary feared her husband was trying to “gaslight” her — make her think she was going crazy.
Although the split hit her hard, her problems began long before Robert filed for divorce.
As early as 2007, Robert Kennedy tried to drive her to a hospital for treatment, but she left the car and ran into the road.
“I remember she was acting kind of out of it, kind of crazy,” witness Rae Kesten told the Journal News at the time. “She was running into the street and flailing her arms around. He was trying to restrain her. I didn’t know if they were fighting or not, but I was concerned.”
Robert Kennedy is the third of 11 children of Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, who was assassinated in 1968, five years after his older brother President John F. Kennedy was killed in Dallas.
Michael Kennedy, one of his younger brothers, died in 1997 when he slammed into a tree while tossing a football on a ski slope. Another brother, David, died of a drug overdose in 1984.