MIAMI – The murky investigation into model-actress Anna Nicole Smith's death was expected to get some clarity Monday when authorities finally plan to release the results of her autopsy.
The expected disclosure of what killed Smith comes more than six weeks after she was found unresponsive at her hotel suite in Hollywood, Florida. During this time, rumors have swirled and court battles have been waged for control of her body and her infant daughter.
Smith's autopsy was expected to be released weeks ago, but has been repeatedly delayed, in part because the Broward County medical examiner, Dr. Joshua Perper, said he had received additional evidence from the Seminole Police Department, which is investigating the starlet's death because the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino where she was staying is located on tribal land.
Authorities would not disclose what the additional evidence was.
Because Smith's death was so sudden and because her 20-year-old son Daniel died under suspicious circumstances five months earlier, speculation about possible criminal activity surrounding the deaths has been intense. The Seminoles have refused to comment on the nature of their probe, though Perper's initial examination revealed no serious physical injury.
Perper has said he is unaware of any criminal investigation. The Broward County state attorney's office has said no such probe is under way. The Seminoles, who initially said there was no indication the voluptuous blonde was the victim of a crime, have remained silent since and are expected to release little information about their investigation even after Monday because they are immune to Freedom of Information laws as an American Indian tribe.
After the results of Perper's initial autopsy were released a day after Smith's death, the medical examiner said an extensive battery of tests was being performed, to search for all manner of causes, even those as far-fetched as radioactive poisoning.
Perper's initial tests found no evidence, either in Smith's stomach or her bloodstream, that she had taken large amounts of prescription medication. The medical examiner said prescription drugs, but no illegal drugs, were found in Smith's hotel room. He would not identify the drugs.
The initial examination also found signs of inflammation in Smith's heart. Perper said it was "something which looks a little bit unusual" but he also noted it "may be nothing."
Smith arrived at the Hard Rock on Feb. 5 and planned to leave four days later aboard a new yacht her companion Howard K. Stern was arranging to buy. She was seldom seen outside her room during her stay. She was said to be suffering from a stomach flu before her Feb. 8 death.
Smith was a Texas girl who went from topless dancer to Playboy Playmate of the Year, Guess jeans model and bride of 89-year-old oilman J. Howard Marshall II. She took her fight for his estimated $500 million fortune as far as the U.S. Supreme Court and the ongoing battle could make her daughter Dannielynn a very rich baby. Stern and two other men have claimed they are the baby's father.