Coroner's office says it needs more information
The Los Angeles County Coroner has received lab results purporting to show that actress Brittany Murphy was murdered — but will not re-open the case unless it gets more details, a top official in the office told TheWrap Wednesday.
“We take any allegations of homicide seriously, but just screaming about a test result without allowing us to look at the test result and what it means is not going to be helpful,” said Craig Harvey, the chief of the coroner's operations bureau.
Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, has sent reporters, the coroner's office and the LAPD copies of independent lab results that suggest to him that Murphy died of poisoning from heavy metals.The test on her hair concluded that she had been exposed to elevated levels of the metals, and an accompanying lab report said she seemed to have been poisoned by someone with criminal intent.
But an outside toxicologist told TheWrap the finding was problematic, in part because hair contamination could have been caused by hair treatments.
The coroner's office would need to know more about the testing to determine if Murphy may have had heavy metals in her system, Harvey said, and her father has not provided adequate documentation.
“It's like finding alcohol in somebody's body and saying they're drunk when you haven't quantified the amount of alcohol and the effect on that person,” he said.
“If all of the material is shared with us, we would then take another look at what we're being asked to look at,” he added. “Right now we stand our original conclusion.”
Julia Davis, a friend of Murphy's 87-year-old father who has spoken for him in the case, fired back in an email to TheWrap: “I realize that the Coroner and Asst. Coroner are not educated as Medical Doctors, but hopefully they can find out that kind of info about testing on their own.”
There has been bad blood between Bertolotti and the coroner's office since he sued for access to his daughter's hair and tissue samples. Eventually the office agreed to send them to the testing company he hired.
Murphy, 32, died in December 2009 in her Los Angeles home. Her husband, Simon Monjack, died in the home five months later. The coroner concluded that both died of natural causes – pneumonia and anemia.
Her father has never accepted those findings.