It’s possible that the family of Dennis Shields will never know for sure exactly how he died because they have refused an autopsy for “religious reasons.” At this time the medical examiner has just ruled that the boyfriend of Real Housewives of New York star Bethenny Frankel died of an undetermined cause.
People Magazine reports that the family of the 51-year-old Shields opted out of the autopsy, according to New York Chief Medical Examiner Barbara Sampson.
“An OCME autopsy was not performed in this case due to a religious objection, upheld by law in such instances where no criminality is suspected.”
At the time of his death, Dennis Shields was separated from his wife, Jill, who was a high school friend of Frankel’s. Jill Shields gave a brief statement after her husband’s passing.
“We are all heartbroken. Dennis was, and will always be, the love of my life. His spirit lives on in our children. Please respect our family’s privacy at this time.”
Particularly in the Orthodox branch of the Jewish religion, an autopsy is considered to be a harming or disfigurement of the body, and unless legally required, it is skipped, says The Blast.
Friends have suggested that Shields was Jewish, and was part of the reason Bethenny Frankel had started embracing her own Judaism (Frankel’s father was Jewish, her mother is not). Page Six reports that the topic of religion was yet one more issue that came between Bethenny and her former husband Jason Hoppy, who allegedly mocked her “newfound Jewish faith” in court documents.
Frankel’s lawyer Allan Malefsky shared Hoppy’s emails with Judge Michael Katz, saying that there was no way that Frankel and Hoppy could co-parent.
“This is a case where joint custody is just not viable. The harassment, the stalking, the 500 emails in 90 days, in which he called her a ‘sad, miserable, bitter old woman,’ and said, ‘I’ll pray for you,’ while asking about life insurance — a veiled threat — there’s no way these parties can be joint custodians.”
Frankel’s lawyer says that Hoppy only wants joint custody so that he will have better opportunities to harass the RHONY star.
“He wants joint custody because he wants the child support and he wants to be able to continue to see and harass my client.”
Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy currently continue to battle over custody of 7-year-old Bryn. Hoppy has filed a new claim to say that he is concerned about Frankel’s parenting because she left Bryn with Shields who he claims had a drug addiction.