The mystery surrounding Anna Nicole Smith's death has cleared up only slightly, while the husband of an elderly ex-starlet added to the circus surrounding her life.
Broward County authorities said Friday no illegal drugs were found in the hotel room where the 39-year-old former centerfold collapsed Thursday, and that she had suffered no serious physical injury. But the medical examiner said it could take weeks to determine whether drugs, natural causes or a combination of the two are to blame.
A line of TV satellite trucks outside the small one-story building that houses the medical examiner's office illustrated the intense public interest in Smith's death.
Meanwhile, Smith's mother was in the Bahamas, checking on the welfare of her granddaughter, 5-month-old Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. Earlier Friday, a reporter heard a crying baby at the home of the mother of a friend of Smith's reported to be caring for her, but no one answered the door.
Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner who did the autopsy, said only prescription drugs were found in Smith's room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood.
He would not identify the drugs, but CNN quoted an unidentified law enforcement source as saying there were large amounts of prescription drugs, including Valium and antibiotics, as well as over-the-counter cold and flu medication.
Perper said Smith had been sick for several days with some kind of stomach flu.
He said that although toxicology tests are pending, the autopsy found no evidence, either in her stomach or her blood stream, that she had taken large amounts of prescription medication. Officials, however, "do not exclude any kind of contribution of medication to the death," he added.
He reported signs of inflammation in Smith's heart - "Something which looks a little bit unusual" - but added, "It may be nothing."
Perper said it would take three to five weeks to conclude the investigation. Authorities also planned to interview a nurse and others and examine medical records before settling on a cause of death, the AP says.
Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger said there was no indication the voluptuous blonde was the victim of a crime, and Perper said the autopsy was able to exclude any kind of physical injury such as blows to the body or asphyxiation.
"There are a number of possibilities" as to the cause of death, Perper said, including natural causes, a drug reaction or some combination of the two.
Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a judge overseeing a paternity dispute between former boyfriend Larry Birkhead and attorney Howard K. Stern over Smith's baby daughter ordered that the model's body be preserved for at least 10 days for a possible DNA test. That could interfere with plans for a funeral.
Debra Opri, an attorney for Birkhead, said the DNA is needed to connect Smith with Dannielynn "so that no one can switch the babies."
At her death, Smith was waging a yearslong court battle over the estate of Marshall, who died in 1995 at age 90. A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million (EUR 364.4 million), but that was later overturned.
Smith, a small-town Texas girl who went from topless dancer to Playboy Playmate of the Year and Guess? jeans model, was found unconscious in her hotel room by a private nurse, officials said. A bodyguard performed CPR, Tiger said, but Smith was declared dead at a hospital.
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