Circumstances of ‘Clueless’ actress's death under renewed scrutiny
The death of Brittany Murphy is under renewed scrutiny after her father, Angelo Bertolotti, revealed a report from a private lab saying the “Clueless” actress had high levels of heavy metals in her system — evidence he says shows she and husband Simon Monjack were deliberately poisoned.
It's just the latest twist in a case that for nearly three years has been kept in the headlines with a series of developments that still don't seem to add up.
Here's a timeline of what's gotten us to this point:
Dec 20, 2009
Paramedics respond to the West Hollywood home Brittany Murphy shares with husband Simon Monjack and mother Sharon Murphy. Brittany Murphy is transported to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, where she is pronounced dead after suffering cardiac arrest.
Dec 21, 2009
Los Angeles County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter says he believes Murphy died of “natural causes.”
Dec 29, 2009
L.A. County Coroner’s office releases Murphy’s death certificate, which lists official cause of death as “deferred” pending toxicology reports, which take several weeks. The certificate lists Murphy’s father as “unknown,” though his name is publicly known as Angelo Bertolotti.
Reports at the time suggest that Murphy and her father were estranged and had not spoken for three years before her death; Bertolotti had divorced her mother when Brittany was two years old. Bertolotti also did not attend his daughter’s funeral.
Feb 25, 2010
Murphy’s death is ruled accidental. Full autopsy results conclude pneumonia and anemia, exacerbated by a mixture of legal over-the-counter cold medications, caused Murphy’s death. The coroner reports that Murphy suffered a “chronic iron deficiency” due to heavy menstrual periods, which “leads to a weakened state of health and would increase her vulnerability to infection,” the autopsy report reads.
“Possible adverse physiological effects of elevated levels of these medications cannot be discounted, especially in her weakened state.”
May 23, 2010
Murphy’s widower Simon Monjack is found dead in the same West Hollywood home.
July 22, 2010
Assistant Chief Coroner Winter announces the cause of Monjack’s death was acute pneumonia and anemia, “just like Brittany.”
Sharon Murphy issues a statement admonishing the public to “stop the reckless innuendos that my daughter and son-in-law misused any kind of prescription medications.”
July 26, 2010
Winter refutes speculation that toxic mold in the home is what caused Murphy and Monjack’s deaths, though he says he did sit down with Monjack, Sharon Murphy, and their lawyer to discuss a possible mold problem during the investigation into Brittany’s death.
Sharon Murphy releases a statement contending that she had “never been personally asked by the Coroner or anyone from the Health Department to come and inspect my home for mold” in the wake of her daughter’s death. Winter calls that statement “an absolute lie,” but Murphy’s publicist, Roger Neal, says it’s absolutely true.
Neal says the home had been inspected for mold two months prior to Murphy’s death and been deemed safe for the family to occupy.
April 11, 2011
Repeated appeals from Bertolotti convince county officials to list his name as father on Murphy’s death certificate.
Dec 19, 2011
Sharon Murphy files a malpractice lawsuit against lawyers that represented her in a settlement against the builders of her home, after she had become convinced mold was indeed the cause of her daughter and son-in-law’s death. Her allegation against the lawyers was that they did not make her aware that by settling with the builders, she waived her right to sue them for wrongful death.
The elder Murphy had reportedly begun to suspect mold when she tried to sell the house during summer 2011.
Jan 11, 2012
Murphy’s father Angelo Bertolotti sues the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office for access to Brittany’s hair samples, stating he disagrees with the official cause of her death and wants to conduct his own chemical analysis.
July 24, 2012
A judge dismisses Bertolotti’s suit due to his failure to follow up on initial claims and make required court appearances.
Feb 7, 2013
Sharon Murphy settles her malpractice lawsuit under undisclosed terms.
Following a second unsuccessful lawsuit, the corner decides Bertolotti is nevertheless entitled to have the hair and tissues samples sent to a lab of his choice, once he conclusively proved he was Murphy's father.
Nov 18, 2013
Angelo Bertolotti reveals a report from a private lab, the Carlson Company, that claims to have tested hair samples from his late daughter. The report finds high levels of heavy metals in Murphy's system, which Bertolotti argues is evidence Murphy and Monjack were deliberately poisoned. The Coroner tells TheWrap that it would be happy to look over the report if Bertolotti sends it — he says the documents are in the mail.