The body of John F. Kennedy Jr. today was located in his submerged plane about 7 miles southwest of Martha's Vineyard, government officials said.
The remains of Kennedy's wife, Carolyn Bessette Kennedy, and her sister Lauren Bessette also were found at the watery crash site, outside the cabin.
Divers recovered the three bodies this afternoon and turned them over to the state coroner's office, according to the National Transportation and Safety Board. After being autopsied--Massachusetts law requires as much for all accident victims--they will be returned to the Kennedy and Bessette families.
A memorial service for JFK Jr. and his wife will be held at 11 a.m. (ET), Friday at St. Thomas Moore's Church in New York City, the Kennedy family said in a statement. The Bessettes will have a private memorial for the trio Saturday in Greenwich, Connecticut.
According to several reports, Senator Edward Kennedy, John's uncle, has inquired about a possible burial at sea. However, no formal plans have been announced.
The private Piper Saratoga piloted by Kennedy and carrying the Bessette women disappeared Friday night at about 9:40 p.m. (EST) en route to Martha's Vineyard Airport.
The cause of the crash remains the stuff of, so far, speculation. The lone hard evidence, based on radar reports, is that the aircraft went into a "rapid rate of descent"--possibly more than 5,000 feet per minute--as it came within 20 miles of the Martha's Vineyard Airport. It could be nine months before the NTSB releases an official report on the accident, the agency said.
The main part of the downed plane's fuselage was located via remote cameras at about 11:40 p.m. (ET) Tuesday. At 10:30 a.m. navy divers had located and identified the bodies. By day's end, the bodies and part of the fuselage had been brought to the surface. Workers will spend the next two days salvaging more of the wreckage.
Kennedy, the magazine editor who, as the lone son of Camelot, was more iconic than his interview subjects, received his pilot's license in April 1998. He was 38.
Carolyn Bessette Kennedy was 33; Lauren Bessette, 34.
(ORIGINALLY POSTED at 8:40 a.m. on 7/21/99)