Mysterious deaths and unsolved crimes are hot topics for big-screen blockbusters and top-rated TV thrillers. But in Hollywood, such cliffhangers are all too real.
Anna Nicole Smith
The Playboy model, 39, was found dead in a Florida hotel room in February 2007. After an eight-week investigation, it was announced the drug-addicted beauty had died of “combined drug intoxication.” Though her lover and lawyer Howard K. Stern was charged with conspiring to enable her drug dependency, no one was found guilty of causing her death.
In 1978, the “Hogan’s Heroes” star was bludgeoned to death in his apartment. Crane’s pal John Henry Carpenter called the apartment while police were investigating, but did not seem surprised they were there, which raised suspicion. Carpenter’s car was searched, and blood smears matched Crane’s blood type. In 1992, the case was reopened, and Carpenter was charged with Crane’s murder, but found not guilty.
The “I Fought the Law” singer, 23, was found dead in a car outside his Hollywood apartment in 1966. His face, chest and side were covered in “petechial hemorrhages” supposedly due to gasoline vapors and summer heat. There was no evidence of a beating, according to reports, and it was ruled as an accidental asphyxiation.
The primary cause of the “8 Mile” star’s death in Dec. 2009 was ruled as pneumonia, with secondary factors of iron-deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication. Murphy, 32, had been taking several over-the-counter and prescription medications.
The “Kung Fu” star was found dead at age 72 in 2009, hanging in the closet of a Bangkok hotel room with a cord wrapped around his neck and genitals. Two autopsies concluded that he died of autoerotic accidental asphyxiation, and not suicide.
Florence Griffith Joyner
The track-and-field athlete died in her sleep at home in 1998 at age 38. The reported cause of death was suffocation during a severe epileptic seizure, which may have been caused by a brain abnormality. But she’d been accused of using performance-enhancing drugs, though she never tested positive.
Many thought TV’s “Superman” had committed suicide when his body was found with a gunshot wound to the head in June 1959. But some claim Reeves was allegedly killed in revenge for his affair with the wife of a powerful studio mogul. The fact that no gunpowder was found on his skin supposedly supports this claim.
The “Twin Peaks” actor, 53, claimed he got into a drunken brawl outside an L.A. doughnut shop on December 29, 1996. The next day he was found dead at home. He died of a subdural hematoma caused by blunt-force trauma to the head.
The “Rocky Mountain High” singer, 53, died in 1997 when his plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean. Denver lacked an aviation medical certificate, a requirement for a valid pilot’s license at the time. A National Transportation Safety Board investigation showed that the leading cause of the accident was Denver’s inability to safely switch fuel tanks in flight.
Shortly before turning 33, the singer suffered heart failure at her parents’ home in 1983. She was taken to the hospital and pronounced dead 45 minutes later. The L.A. coroner gave the cause of death as “heartbeat irregularities” brought on by chemical imbalances associated with anorexia nervosa.
Could a guy high on heroin shoot himself with a shotgun? The lack of gunpowder burns or residue on the grunge rocker’s hands after he died at age 27 in April 1994 was also deemed suspicious. Another shocking theory alleges that Cobain’s widow, musician Courtney Love, had a hand in his death – and his suicide note was actually a letter saying that he was leaving her.
The blonde bombshell’s death in August 1962 was officially listed as “acute barbiturate poisoning” and ruled a probable suicide. But rumors continue to swirl that Monroe was murdered because she knew too much. Conspiracy theorists point the finger at everyone, including lovers President John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert – and even the Mob.
The “Newhart” star, 55, passed in her sleep at home in 1998. An autopsy later determined that she’d had a heart attack and also suffered from undiagnosed scarring of the heart muscle. Sources close to her told The ENQUIRER that Frann was struggling with anorexia, which could have contributed to her death.
The King of Pop, 50, died of acute propofol and benzodiazepine intoxication after suffering cardiac arrest at his home in 2009. His personal physician, Conrad Murray, said he administered CPR after finding Jackson not breathing and with a barely detectable pulse. The death was ruled a homicide, and Murray was convicted of involuntary manslaughter.
TV’s “The Rebel” was found dead at 36 in February 1968, slumped against his bedroom wall. The autopsy cited “paraldehyde and Promazine intoxication” as the immediate cause of death. Most maintain that it was an accidental overdose, but several pals believe he was murdered.
Nicole Brown Simpson
Former NFL star O.J. Simpson was found not guilty of stabbing his ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her friend, Ron Goldman, to death – even though there was DNA evidence and O.J. Simpson had a history of spousal abuse. A civil court later found him responsible for their 1994 deaths. In 2006, Simpson wrote a hypothetical book explaining how he would have killed them.
The Hollywood publicist was driving home in 2010 when neighbors heard gunshots. She was found in the driver’s seat with five gunshot wounds to her chest that appeared to be an expert marksman’s work. A man believed to be involved with her murder committed suicide after being confronted by police, but the mystery remains unsolved.
A 17-year-old drunk driver slammed into the stand-up comic’s Pontiac Trans Am with his pickup truck in 1992. An autopsy found Kinison, 38, had a dislocated neck, a torn aorta and torn blood vessels in his abdominal cavity, causing his death within minutes.
The diva’s death in her Beverly Hilton hotel bathtub while high on drugs was ruled an accidental drowning. But Los Angeles private investigator Paul Huebl claims he has evidence that Houston, 48, was murdered by two thugs sent by East Coast drug dealers to collect on a $1.5 million debt.
“Star Trek” legend William Shatner found the body of his third wife Nerine, 40, at the bottom of their swimming pool in August 1999. An autopsy detected alcohol and Valium in her blood, but the coroner ruled her death an accidental drowning. The LAPD ruled out foul play, and the case was closed.
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