How Did Brittany Murphy Die? Investigation Into Actress' Death Will Not Be Reopened


Rumors the investigation into actress Brittany Murphy's death was reopening began swirling online this week after E! Online published an article with the headline "Brittany Murphy's Death: L.A. Coroner Does Not Rule Out Reopening Investigation." The article lists a number of hypothetical instances which could occur during a reopened investigation into any person's death, including exhuming a body, though the L.A. County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter made it abundantly clear in his interview for the piece (and thereafter) the investigation is, and has been, closed. 

In a follow up interview with Entertainment, Winter stressed Murphy's investigation is not being opened up anytime soon: "At this point we have nothing that points us to reopening the investigation. If there was additional evidence or someone came forward then we would direct them to law enforcement."

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How did Brittany Murphy die? Perhaps part of the reason why E! Online alleges there is "renewed interest in the Murphy case" is because the actress' death is so elusive to begin with. Murphy passed away on Dec. 20, 2009 after her mother Sharon found her lying unconcious in her shower. Pneumonia was the official cause of her death according to a coroner's report two months after her passing. The report also showed Murphy wasn't abusing drugs or alcohol at the time of her death, though there were trace amounts of Vicodin and other drugs found in her body — some prescribed, others over-the-counter. 

Murphy's death was "accidental but preventable," according to the coroner. Five months later, her husband Simon Monjack died of the same causes. 

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E! Online's article was quickly picked up by a number of other sites, with headlines reading, "Brittany Murphy's Cause of Death Could Be Reinvestigated." Of course, there is nothing inaccurate about that statement — according to Winter, if someone were to say, for example, they somehow caused Murphy's death, the investigation could be reopened. But even those articles citing E! Online ran the same quotes from Winter which state, "We would have to have direct evidence. In all honesty, it would take something like a confession. Something connecting somebody with it."

Murphy was suffering from anemia — a bodily condition when blood lacks the fundamental healthy red blood cells known as hemoglobin (responsible for binding with oxygen). The coroner's report attributes her death to community acquired pneumonia, with iron deficiency anemia and multiple drug intoxication, noting "this 32 year old female has a history of diabetes and had been previously hospitalized for an episode of hypoglycemia. She had complained of shortness of breath and abdominal pain for [seven] to [ten] days prior to her day of death. There is no history of alcohol or drug abuse."

However, Murphy's father alleges she and her husband were both poisoned, citing their toxicology reports which indicate multiple metals were found in both of their bodies at their times of death. Murphy's father was reportedly estranged from his daughter, didn't attend her funeral, divorced her mother when she was two-years-old and didn't speak to his daughter for years before the sudden passing. 

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However, he was very adamant about his thought that Murphy and Monjack were murdered, at least at one point. He sued the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office in 2012 to obtain hair samples from Murphy, but the suit was later dismissed on July 24 after the judge determined Bertolotti failed to make court appearances and follow up on his claims, The Wrap reported. 

"[N]othing showed to the point of poison," Winter told E! Online in the initial article which caused this conversation to sprout up once more. "[The levels] weren't off the charts, and the levels weren't consistent with poison ... We could have reopened the case, but we didn't think it warranted it."

Previously, Murphy's life and career had been turned into a Lifetime biopic, which was lambasted for glamorizing what should of been a tribute to Murphy, most notably known for her work in Clueless and Uptown Girls. 

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