NASSAU, Bahamas – The death of Anna Nicole Smith adds urgency to a planned inquest into how her 20-year-old son died in the Bahamas five months ago, the country's chief magistrate said Friday.
"The fact that both of them have died under sudden death circumstances makes this inquest that much more interesting," Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez told The Associated Press. Daniel Smith died at his mother's hospital bedside in September, three days after she gave birth to a baby girl, Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern.
Dannielynn, now five months old, was not with the former Playboy Playmate and reality TV show star when she died in Florida on Thursday. The baby is being cared for by the family of Bahamian Immigration Minister Shane Gibson, People magazine reported, citing unidentified sources.
Gibson, a friend of Smith, did not return calls seeking comment on the baby's whereabouts. A black pickup on Friday carried a crib and an infant's car seat from the mansion Smith had been living in to Gibson's mother's house. But when the unidentified driver spotted an AP reporter across the street, he sped away. Gibson's mother would not come to the door.
Gibson last year approved Smith's Bahamas residency application based on her claim to ownership of the mansion, but it turned out that G. Ben Thompson -- a developer from Myrtle Beach, S.C., who had dated Smith -- claimed the mansion was his. Godfrey Pinder, a lawyer for Thompson, said Anna Nicole Smith's death means her claims to the home are no longer valid.
A medical examiner hired by Anna Nicole Smith's family concluded Daniel Smith died by accident from a lethal combination of methadone and antidepressants. The death of the 39-year-old model and former actress leaves her companion, Howard K. Stern, as the only potential witness who was in the hospital room at the time of Daniel's death.
If necessary, authorities will try to compel Stern to come to the Bahamas and testify for the inquest, scheduled to begin March 27, Gomez said.
Bahamians followed Smith's troubles closely in the local media, and many expressed concern for her baby daughter.
"What I want to know now is who is going to take care of that poor baby," said Antoinette Butler, 32, who was reading updates about Anna Nicole's death online in her office at the Chamber of Commerce.
A former attorney for Smith in the Bahamas, Michael Scott, said he believed drugs played a role in Anna Nicole Smith's death.
"Undoubtedly it will be found at the end of the day that drugs featured in her death as they did in the death of poor Daniel," said Scott, whose law firm had filed suit accusing Smith of failing to pay her legal bills. He declined to elaborate.