Brittany Murphy: Suspicious celebrity deaths to keep you up at night
Brittany Murphy, quirky Hollywood sweetheart who would appear in countless classics like Clueless and Girl, Interrupted, was found unconscious in the early hours of December 20th, 2009. To some, the actress’s passing appeared similar to other celebrity deaths – if anything it had been overshadowed by even larger celebrities, like Michael Jackson.
Murphy was only 32 at the time of her death; by the time she was rushed to the hospital, she was pronounced dead from cardiac arrest.
An autopsy was performed the next day and the LA Times stated the official causes of death were pneumonia, iron deficiency, and possible drug intoxication. At the time Murphy had been taking over-the-counter medication for a cold. Substances found in the young woman’s body were in line with medication that could be used to ease the symptoms of pneumonia.
Substances found in the autopsy included: acetaminophen (Tylenol) and hydrocodone (found in the painkiller Vicodin), chlorpheniramine (an ingredient in some over-the-counter medications), and L-methamphetamine (found in some inhalers). This seemed consistent with the official cause of death, so Murphy’s family worked through their grief and laid the late actress to rest.
A few months later, on May 23, 2010, Brittany Murphy’s widower Simon Monjack also died in the same house. The cause of death for Simon was similar to Brittany, which prompted an investigation by the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. This agency found the house may have contained a toxic mold; this same mold could have been the cause of both Murphy and Monjack’s death.
This seemed plausible initially; however, Monjack’s publicist Roger Neal claimed that the house was inspected two months prior to Brittany’s death and there were no issues found. Adding further intrigue to the matter, Murphy’s mother Sharon denounced the claims of toxic mold, initially.
In December 2011 Sharon Murphy changed her mind and was convinced that toxic mold had been the cause of her daughter’s death. She filed a malpractice lawsuit against her former attorneys, claiming she was advised to accept a settlement from the builders of the home, even though they knew it was unsafe.
The change of heart was suspicious, but by July of that same year, Sharon Murphy dropped the lawsuit and sold the house. What led to Sharon’s change of heart is unclear, but she seemed happy to move on from a dreaded structure.
Random father appears
Given numerous celebrity deaths attracting people out of the woodwork, it was no surprise that Brittany’s estranged father, Angelo Bertolotti, appeared in 2013 to claim the actress’s death suspicious. Bertolotti commissioned a toxicology report that showed deliberate poisoning by heavy metals, including: antimony & barium.
These elements are consistent with ingredients in rat poison, but a judge dismissed the suit weeks later. Bertolotti continued to pursue his investigation and hired an independent lab to do further testing on Brittany’s hair, hypothesizing that arsenic poisoning may have been mistaken for anemia.
In 2016, Bertolotti’s case was reopened by forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht, who claimed that the chemicals found in Brittany’s hair were most likely the result of her hair dye.
With the lack of substantial evidence or even a suspect, the investigation into Murphy’s death left most parties unsatisfied, still grieving over the loss of yet another great star before her time. For now, Brittany Murphy’s case seems laid to rest – but only time will tell for how long.