The sister of Anna Nicole Smith's partner said he was not with the former Playboy playmate when she died but knew that she was very sick only hours before she collapsed.
Howard K. Stern's older sister, Bonnie, recently traveled from her Beverly Hills home to the Bahamas to be with the 38-year-old California lawyer who says he is the father of Smith's baby.
Smith, 39, died Thursday after collapsing in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Florida. A private nurse called the emergency dispatcher after finding Smith unresponsive.
Bonnie Stern said her brother told her that Smith was running a fever of 105 degrees Fahrenheit (40.5 Celsius) and that a nurse was "icing her down" earlier that day, the AP says.
"When he left her, she was sleeping," Bonnie Stern said.
Bonnie Stern said that he had tried to get Smith to visit a doctor but Smith had refused because she was afraid that it would garner publicity. When news reached him that Smith was dead, she said, he had been gone only for about two hours.
"They had plans to get a yacht and to buy an engagement ring. They were going to get married Feb. 27. It was going to be a real marriage," she said.
Asked what she thought caused Smith's death, Bonnie Stern said: "Her immunity was so low. She was so depressed. She kept getting sick and her body just probably broke down."
Asked about the relationship between her brother and Smith, Bonnie Stern said that he met the former model in 1996 when she was referred to his law firm and he soon became her personal attorney.
"He started doing her legal work and then he became her confidant. They became best friends and then he fell in love with her," she said.
As for Larry Birkhead, the man who claims that he might be the father of Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn, she said: "Larry Birkhead was not her boyfriend. There were times of some intimacy."
Birkhead told New York's Daily News that the two had meticulously planned for the birth of the child, but that after they broke up he was pushed to the side.
"Howard has never liked me and he never wanted me and Anna to be together," Birkhead, 34, told the Daily News in Tuesday's editions. "After she got pregnant, things went quickly downhill because of his difference of opinion on several matters."
Birkhead recounted how he had tried to save Smith from her risky lifestyle. He said Smith left him because of his attempts to intervene. The couple split early last summer, the AP reports.
"I watched over her to make sure she was safe, and once I was basically pushed to the side," he said, "I had no control over what she did or anyone else around her did."