New video shows trailblazing judge alone hours before body found in river

NEW YORK -- New York City detectives have recovered surveillance video showing Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam walking alone the night before she was found dead in the Hudson River last week.

The NYPD obtained the new video Tuesday night. It shows Abdus-Salaam walking in the direction of the river in her Harlem neighborhood at about 8 p.m. on April 11. Detectives described this video as being important in the case, as they're working to piece together her last movements before she somehow ended up in the water.

Her body was spotted at 1:45 p.m. the next day after someone saw it wash up on the shore near West 132nd Street.

The next step in the investigation is for detectives to canvas that area Wednesday night to see if anyone remembers seeing the judge at that particular time.

Police initially said no foul play was suspected in the case, but their tone changed Tuesday after the investigation revealed there is no clear indication of suicide or criminality.

Photos: Judge Sheila Abdus-Salaam through the years

"We're looking it at as a suspicious death at this point. We haven't found any clear indications of criminality, but at this point we can't say for sure. We're hoping if anyone could shed any light into the hours before her disappearance, it would help us establish what happened," NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis said.

Abdus-Salaam's husband, The Rev. Canon Gregory Jacobs, issued a statement, saying:

"It has been a week since our beloved Sheila's body was discovered in the Hudson River. Since that day, the New York Police Department has conducted a vigorous investigation, but has been unable to determine a conclusive cause of death. A recent statement by the NYPD now calls the circumstances involving the investigation "suspicious." We are truly thankful for their efforts and pray that the facts will ultimately be made known."

He added: "Sheila loved Harlem and its people and lived there for nearly all of her adult life. 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."

Abdus-Salaam, who was 65 years old, was the first African-American woman appointed to New York's highest court - the Court of Appeals.
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