Tammy Wynette Died of Natural Causes, Ruling Says

Medical examiner issues final word in controversial case.

NASHVILLE — Tammy Wynette died of natural causes, a medical examiner has ruled.

Davidson County medical examiner Bruce Levy made the announcement Tuesday, more than three years after the 55-year-old singer was found dead by her husband, George Richey, at their Nashville mansion.

No autopsy was conducted when Wynette was found dead on April 6, 1998. Her personal doctor, Wallis Marsh, was summoned from his home in Pittsburgh, and he ruled that she died from a blood clot.

After burial, Wynette’s daughters pressed for an autopsy, and finally — after George Richey agreed — her body was exhumed in 1999 (see “Tammy Wynette’s Body Exhumed” ) and an autopsy was conducted. At that time, Levy ruled that she died of heart failure (see “Wynette Autopsy Indicates Heart Failure” ). One laboratory said that traces of two drugs that she had been taking — including the painkiller Versed — were found during testing, but Levy said that neither had been a factor in her death.

Levy said this week that he had again tested the two samples taken from the body and could find no traces of Versed. Accordingly, he said, Wynette died of natural causes.

Wynette’s daughters have a wrongful-death lawsuit pending against Wallis Marsh (see “Tammy Wynette Died From Drugs, Daughter’s Book Alleges” ) and a pharmaceutical company alleged to have supplied her with drugs.