The results of a preliminary autopsy conducted by New York City’s medical examiner Wednesday morning (January 23) on the body of 28-year-old actor Heath Ledger have been deemed inconclusive.
Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for the medical examiner’s office, told MTV News that more tests were needed to determine the official cause of death for Ledger, whose body was discovered Tuesday afternoon inside a New York apartment .
It will take approximately two weeks for the medical examiner’s office to conduct additional tests and complete its investigation into the nature of Ledger’s death, Borakove said. Police involved in the investigation have speculated that the actor’s death was the result of an accidental drug overdose.
New York Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly told reporters during a press conference on Wednesday that the actor was found face down, but not at the end of a bed; he was in a normal sleeping position, he said, according to CNN. Kelly also confirmed earlier reports that crime-scene technicians had found a rolled-up $20 bill inside the apartment, which they collected for testing. The bill was rolled in a manner common among cocaine users, but police said no visible drug residue was found on it, according to The Associated Press.
Police told reporters that there were no illegal drugs recovered from the apartment, according to AP. Prescription sleeping pills and anti-anxiety pills were found in bottles in both the bedroom and bathroom. According to the wire service, two anonymous law enforcement officials said they had found six different prescription drugs in the apartment, including ones to treat insomnia and anxiety, along with an antihistamine. TMZ.com reports that the drugs included anti-anxiety medications Xanax, Valium and Ativan; sleeping medication Lunesta; and Restoril, which is a sedative. Three of the prescriptions were filled in Europe.
Kelly declined to provide a list of the medications police had seized as evidence, saying, “Some of them were sleeping pills, in essence, and some other drugs were there as well. … We are going to wait for the toxicology report,” the results from which could take weeks, according to one police source.
People.com reported that Ledger’s body was released to a New York funeral home, but at press time no information about funeral services was available.
According to The New York Times, police provided more information Wednesday about how Ledger’s body was found. The Times reports that Ledger’s housekeeper, Teresa Solomon, arrived at the apartment around 12:30 p.m., and police say that about a half-hour later, Solomon entered the bedroom, where she found the actor lying in bed, face down, with a sheet pulled up to his shoulders. Solomon claims she could hear Ledger snoring and left the room.
Masseuse Diana Wolozin arrived just before 3 p.m. and called her client’s cell phone. When Ledger failed to answer the call, both women entered the bedroom and attempted to stir the actor from his sleep. The Times reports that Ledger did not respond, prompting Solomon to call Mary-Kate Olsen, a friend of Ledger’s, using his phone. The housekeeper called, seeking guidance, police said. She eventually called 911 just before 3:30.
In addition, police told the Times they will examine
surveillance video from the apartment building — and the immediate area — for potential clues.
Ledger’s family has responded to media speculation about Heath’s death, asking that the world wait for the medical examiner to make a determination before jumping to conclusions. The family also denied Ledger was using drugs, as has been widely reported.
The Oscar-nominated actor of such such critically hailed films as Brokeback Mountain” and “Monster’s Ball” portrays the Joker in this summer’s upcoming Batman sequel, “The Dark Knight.” Ledger’s colleagues and admirers have expressed shock over the young actor’s death.(Watch Heath Ledger talk about his evolution as an actor in a 2005 interview.)
[This story was originally published on 1.23.08 at 4:50 p.m. ET]