In the past month, legions of Heath Ledger fans have endured the roller-coaster ride of learning about the actor’s shocking death , debating the circumstances behind it and finally learning the truth . Now, a new investigation is under way that could add a few more chapters to the tragic tale of the “Brokeback Mountain” star.
The federal Drug Enforcement Agency is looking into details on how Ledger acquired the Oxycontin and Vicodin that contributed to the lethal prescription-drug cocktail that killed him January 22, according to New York’s Daily News. The investigation is focusing on two yet-unnamed doctors, one in California and another in Texas, who provided the 28-year-old actor with the prescriptions.
DEA officials have made it clear that the investigation is not looking into the circumstances behind Ledger’s death and that the recent determination that he died from an accidental overdose of prescription medications still stands. In addition to the pills secured from the two doctors in question, the actor’s autopsy also found the presence of Xanax, Valium, Temazepam (a skeletal muscle relaxant for patients with severe insomnia) and Doxylamine (also a sleeping aid, often prescribed to pregnant women). Those results have since been subpoenaed by the investigators.
Although it remains unclear whether there was any wrongdoing on the doctors’ behalf — whether they both prescribed the Oxycontin and Vicodin or did it independently of each other — the Daily News reports that the investigation hopes to uncover the circumstances that enabled the actor’s self-medicating mistake. “It’s an ongoing investigation,” a source in law enforcement told the paper. “It’s not clear if there was any wrongdoing.”
These latest developments come just barely a month after the Australian star’s body was discovered in his New York apartment, shocking the Hollywood community, as well as an army of fans looking forward to Ledger’s portrayal of the Joker in this summer’s “The Dark Knight” as a role that would take his career to the next level. In the weeks since his passing, two private memorial services have been held in his honor in Los Angeles, and a third in his hometown of Perth, Australia.
Actor Anton Yelchin spoke out recently on the dangers of self-medicating, following on the heels of the recent deaths of Ledger and Hawthorne Heights guitarist Casey Calvert . According to the National Institute of Drug Abuse, an estimated 48 million Americans have used prescription drugs for nonmedical reasons in their lifetime, and cases of accidental drug poisoning are reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to have risen 68 percent between 1999 and 2004, a number believed to have only increased in the years since.
In related news, excerpts from the video that Ledger directed for British singer/songwriter Nick Drake’s “Black Eyed Dog” have hit the Web, via the Australian show “A Current Affair.” Ledger had said he was “obsessed” with the music of Drake, who overdosed in 1974 at the age of 26. The video has only been aired publicly at film festivals last year.