- The Washington Times - Monday, March 26, 2007

DANIA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Former Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith died of an accidental overdose of a sleeping medication and at least eight other prescription drugs, and she had a bacterial infection from injecting drugs into her buttocks, authorities said yesterday.

Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said Mrs. Smith died of “combined drug intoxication,” with the sleeping medication chloral hydrate as the major factor. She had been taking a lengthy list of medications, including methadone for pain and valium, he said.

The bacterial infection from injecting the medication and a viral infection contributed to her death, the autopsy report said.

Chloral hydrate is a sedative used to treat insomnia and alcohol withdrawal, relieve anxiety and ease postsurgery pain. Dr. Perper said Mrs. Smith had been on several antidepressant and anti-anxiety drugs and had been taking the longevity medications vitamin B12 and growth hormone. The detailed autopsy showed no evidence of disease.

“We found nothing to indicate any foul play,” said Seminole tribal police Chief Charlie Tiger.

Mrs. Smith, 39, was found Feb. 8 in her room at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, which is on one of the tribe’s reservations.

Dr. Chip Walls, a forensic toxicologist for the Miller School of Medicine at the University of Miami, said chloral hydrate is rarely prescribed and is known to be fatal if combined with certain other drugs including the sedative Lorazepam, which the autopsy showed Mrs. Smith was taking.

“It’s very toxic if you mix it with any other central nervous system depressant drugs,” Dr. Walls said. “You could get profound sedation leading up to coma and respiratory arrest.”

Chief Tiger said authorities examined laptop computers belonging to Mrs. Smith and her attorney turned companion, Howard K. Stern, and found nothing unusual related to her death. Chief Tiger also said nothing arose during an exhaustive review of tapes from hotel security cameras and from interviews with numerous witnesses.

Dr. Perper said Mrs. Smith felt ill shortly after arriving in Fort Lauderdale from the Bahamas on Feb. 5 and that she eventually developed a fever of 105 degrees. Dr. Perper said Mrs. Smith had a blood infection that could have been caused by a contaminated needle, but it was brought under control by antibiotics and an ice bath.

“Her temperature never went again above 100 and, except for an episode of vomiting, she felt relatively well except for feeling very weak,” he said.

Because her death was so sudden and because her 20-year-old son, Daniel, died under suspicious circumstances five months earlier, there has been speculation about criminal activity surrounding the deaths. The Seminole Department of Law Enforcement investigated the case because the casino is on tribal land.

Mrs. Smith went from topless dancer to Playboy Playmate of the Year, Guess jeans model and bride of 89-year-old oilman J. Howard Marshall II. She took her fight for Mr. Marshall’s estimated $500 million fortune as far as the Supreme Court, and the ongoing battle could make her infant daughter, Dannielynn, wealthy.

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