Suicide victim Mary Richardson Kennedy was preparing to fight her estranged husband Robert for custody of their four children according to reports.

The body of the 52-year-old was found by the family housekeeper at a barn behind her home in Westchester in the latest tragedy to befall the Kennedys.

The wife of Robert F. Kennedy Jnr was ‘lost and alone’ according to her friends who said she never recovered from the break-up of her marriage two years ago.

The Daily News reports that sources told them the mother of four failed to come to terms with the end of her 16 year marriage.

The May 2010 divorce filing was quickly followed by a media frenzy when she was arrested three days later for drunken driving.

Family friends told the paper that Mrs Kennedy struggled with alcohol for years and went into rehab in February.

One neighbour said: “She always seems lost these days, whenever she came into the village. Lost and alone and sort of out of it.”

Robert F Kennedy Jnr is now resident in California where he campaigns as an environmentalist and hangs out with movie stars.

He visited the family home on Wednesday night after the tragic discovery.

“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.”

The four Kennedy children were away from home when their mother died with the two oldest at boarding school and the two youngest with their father.

Reports say emergency crews rushed to the Kennedy estate, but there was little they could do.

“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.