With the precise nature and location of Linda McCartney's death suddenly in
question, authorities in Santa Barbara County, Calif., launched a probe
Wednesday into the singer and rock photographer's passing. The flurry of
speculation has prompted Linda McCartney's widower, ex-Beatle Paul McCartney, to
flatly deny that his wife's death was an assisted suicide rather than a
natural death brought on by cancer.
McCartney announced on Sunday that Linda, who revealed she had breast
cancer in 1995, had died last Friday on the family's Santa Barbara ranch,
following the recent discovery that the cancer had metastasized in her
liver. Questions about the matter arose several days later, after the
local coroner received no death certificate for Linda McCartney. In
addition, there was no authorization for the cremation of Linda McCartney's body,
as is required by county law.
Compounding the confusion was a report on Wednesday from People
magazine's online edition that cited anonymous sources confirming that
Linda McCartney, who was 56, had actually died in Tucson, Ariz., 400 miles from
On Thursday, the Arizona Daily Star newspaper reported that unnamed
local officials had privately confirmed that Linda McCartney had died on the
family ranch east of Tucson. However, authorities will not publicly
corroborate that an Arizona death certificate has been issued because such
documents are considered sealed, private records under state law.
A representative for Pima County, Ariz., Medical Examiner Bruce Parks said
Thursday that the office had no comment on the matter.
"We certainly heard the rumor that she may have passed away in Arizona,"
Sgt. Jim Peterson, a spokesman for the Santa Barbara County sheriff's
office, told CNN. "Until we can confirm that either through the state of
Arizona or through an attending physician, we're not going to be able to
cease our investigation."
The mounting inquiries compelled Paul McCartney to issue a statement
through family spokesman Geoff Baker that disclosed the location of Linda's
death only as a "private" place.
"When Linda died last Friday with her family around her, it was in a place
that was private to her and her family," said the statement, according to
London's Times newspaper. "Everyone has always assumed that it was
Santa Barbara, Calif. So in an effort to allow the family time to get back
to England in peace and in private, it was stated that she had died in
Santa Barbara. The family hopes that they can maintain this one private
place that they have in the world."
Linda McCartney's ashes were reportedly carried back to the U.K. over the
weekend and scattered about the family estate in Sussex, England.
The statement went on to dismiss any rumors that Linda McCartney's death
was assisted, referring reporters to the singer's doctor, Larry Norton of
New York, for confirmation. Norton told CNN that he believed
McCartney died of natural causes.
"Any suggestion that her death was assisted is complete and absolute
rubbish, a total nonsense," Baker said in his statement.
The former Linda Eastman, a renowned rock photographer, married Paul
McCartney in 1969. She sang backup and played keyboards with her husband's
band Wings throughout the 1970s and more recently became known for her