Husband Eyed in Massachusetts Mom's Island Hanging Death, Probe Reopened

Authorities have reopened their investigation into the Caribbean hanging death of a Massachusetts mom in the midst of a divorce, the Boston Herald reported.

The family of veterinarian Dr. Joan Baruffaldi wants a second autopsy for the 40-year-old mother of two, and her burial has been postponed.

Baruffaldi was found hanging from a shower curtain rod Nov. 5 in her hotel room on St. John in the U.S. Virgin Islands, where she was staying with her husband Robert Harris, the Herald said.

The couple were in the middle of getting a divorce but had gone together to a conference Baruffaldi was attending on the island to try to work things out.

The Lynnfield, Mass., woman was found hanging from a bathrobe belt at the Westin Hotel on St. John.

A Middlesex Superior Court judge issued a restraining order against Harris on Friday preventing him from removing her body, according to the paper.

Her family believes Harris was involved in Baruffaldi's hanging and filed a wrongful death lawsuit against him.

"He vehemently denies he had anything to do with her death," his attorney Kevin Reddington told the Herald. "There is absolutely no basis to make such groundless accusations."

Authorities in the Caribbean have launched a criminal investigation into whether the hanging was a suicide. If it isn't, they will have to decide whether to press charges.

Wilson Campbell, chief of the criminal division for the U.S. Department of Justice in the Virgin Islands, said the first autopsy listed suicide as the manner of death and asphyxiation as the cause — but added that his office hasn't yet determined Baruffaldi took her own life.

"We have not reached a conclusion that the death was a suicide," Campbell told the Herald.

Court filings in the case say that Baruffaldi and her estranged husband were trying to get back together when she killed herself. Police on St. John questioned Harris but didn't take him into custody.

Baruffaldi filed for a restraining order against Harris a month earlier, on Oct. 2, for allegedly choking her. She dropped it days later and instead invited him along to the conference, ignoring her sister's warnings, according to court papers.

More on this story from the Boston Herald.