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Published: Friday, 2/9/2007

More tests needed in Anna Nicole Smith's death

ASSOCIATED PRESS

DANIA BEACH, Fla. Prescription drugs were found in Anna Nicole Smith s hotel room, but there were no pills in her stomach, and investigators said today they are awaiting tests that could tell whether the former centerfold died of an overdose, as some close to her suspect.

Dr. Joshua Perper, the Broward County medical examiner who did the autopsy, said no illegal drugs were discovered in Smith s room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood after the 39-year-old pinup collapsed there on Thursday. He would not identify the prescription 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 there were no pills in Smith s stomach and no other immediate signs of an overdose, but officials do not exclude any kind of contribution of medication to the death. He reported signs of inflammation in Smith s heart Something which looks a little bit unusual but added, It may be nothing.

He 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.

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.

Perper said she had been sick for several days with some kind of stomach flu.

Meanwhile in Los Angeles, a judge overseeing a paternity dispute 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.

And in yet another strange twist in the case, a third man the husband of actress Zsa Zsa Gabor, Prince Frederick von Anhalt stepped forward today to claim he may be the baby s father.

Smith, a small-town Texas girl who went from topless dancer to Playboy Playmate of the Year, Guess jeans model and bride of an 89-year-old oilman, 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.

In recent TV appearances, Smith s speech was often slurred and critics said she seemed drugged-out.

Michael Scott, a former attorney for Smith in the Bahamas, said he suspects drugs featured in her death. And Smith s mother said today she believes her daughter died of an overdose.

Smith s 20-year-old son, Daniel, died in September of what was believed to be an accidental drug overdose, around the time Smith gave birth to her daughter, Daniellyn.

I think she had too many drugs, just like Danny, her mother, Vergie Arthur, told ABC s Good Morning America. I tried to warn her about drugs and the people that she hung around with. She didn t listen.

She was too drugged up, Arthur said. By the last interview I saw of her, she was so wasted.

Smith s attorney, Ron Rale, dismissed claims her death was related to drugs as a bunch of nonsense. Rale said he had talked to her on Tuesday or Wednesday, and she had flu symptoms and a fever and was still grieving over her son.

In Los Angeles, a judge ordered that Smith s body be preserved until a Feb. 20 hearing in the paternity case. He refused to order an immediate DNA test on Smith to help identify the baby s father.

Normally, there is no need for DNA testing on the mother in a paternity case. But one of the men who are claiming to be the baby s father asked for genetic material from Smith to guard against a possible baby switch.

Two men have claimed to be the father: attorney Howard K. Stern, Smith s most recent companion, and Larry Birkhead, a former boyfriend. Then, today, Anhalt announced that he had had an affair with Smith and might be the father.

The paternity decision could determine the child s inheritance.

At her death, Smith was waging a yearslong court battle over the estate of her late husband, J. Howard Marshall II, who died in 1995 at age 90. A federal court in California awarded Smith $474 million, but that was later overturned.

Read more in later editions of The Blade and toledoblade.com



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