Death of RFK's granddaughter is latest in string of Kennedy family tragedies

The death of 22-year-old Saoirse Kennedy Hill at the family's compound in Hyannis Port, Mass., marked the latest shocking event in the family's tragedy-scarred history.

With both fame and fortune on their side, the politically powerful Kennedys also have endured a history of cruel and shocking deaths dating back to the 1940s.

A family statement Thursday confirmed that Kennedy Hill, the granddaughter of Ethel and the late Sen. Robert F. Kennedy, had died at the home, although no cause of death was disclosed.

"The world is a little less beautiful today." 

— Ethel Kennedy

A report in The New York Times, however, said the daughter of Courtney Kennedy Hill – one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 11 children – had died of an apparent drug overdose.

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"The world is a little less beautiful today," Ethel Kennedy, 91, was quoted as saying in the family statement.

Saoirse (pronounced Sur-sha) Kennedy Hill was a student at Boston College and was expected to graduate in 2020, the Boston Globe reported.

Her father was Paul Michael Hill, one of four defendants falsely convicted in connection with bombings attributed to the Irish Republican Army in 1974.

Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill places a white rose at the Eternal Flame, President John F. Kennedy's gravesite, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., June 6, 2000. Hill died Thursday at age 22. ​​​​​​(Associated Press)

Robert F. Kennedy's granddaughter Saoirse Kennedy Hill places a white rose at the Eternal Flame, President John F. Kennedy's gravesite, at Arlington National Cemetery in Arlington, Va., June 6, 2000. Hill died Thursday at age 22. ​​​​​​(Associated Press)

The circumstances of the death were not immediately known. The case was being investigated by Barnstable police and detectives from the Massachusetts State Police, according to the Globe.

It was the latest in a string of tragedies for one of America's most prominent political families.

Robert F. Kennedy was fatally shot just over 50 years ago after he won the California presidential primary on June 6, 1968.

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His death while running for president came just five years after the nation was thrust into mourning when President John F. Kennedy was shot and killed by a gunman in Dallas in November 1963.

Their deaths followed those of their siblings Joseph Kennedy Jr., who was killed in August 1944 during World War II at age 29, and Kathleen Kennedy, who died in a plane crash in France in May 1948 at age 28.

Jackie Kennedy Onassis w. son John F. Kennedy Jr. and daughter Caroline Kennedy. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

Jackie Kennedy Onassis w. son John F. Kennedy Jr. and daughter Caroline Kennedy. (Photo by Time Life Pictures/DMI/The LIFE Picture Collection via Getty Images/Getty Images)

The family's next generation has seen tragedy as well: Robert Kennedy’s son David died of an overdose in 1984 and another son Michael was killed in a skiing accident in Aspen, Colo., in 1997.

Two years later, President Kennedy’s son John F. Kennedy, Jr., his wife Carolyn Bessette and his sister-in-law died when he crashed a small plane off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard.

More recently, Kara Kennedy, Ted Kennedy's daughter, died of a heart attack at a health club at the age of 51 in 2011 and Mary Richardson Kennedy, Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s wife, died of suicide in 2012.

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“Our hearts are shattered by the loss of our beloved Saoirse,” the Kennedy family said in a statement about Kennedy Hill. “Her life was filled with hope, promise and love. She cared deeply about friends and family, especially her mother Courtney, her father Paul, her stepmother Stephanie, and her grandmother Ethel.”

She was one of Robert and Ethel Kennedy's 35 grandchildren.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.