Details Emerge From the Death of Heath Ledger
“Who books a massage when he plans on killing himself?” a NYPD investigator asked me shortly after responding to a posh Broome Street loft where actor Heath Ledger was found dead just after 3:30 yesterday afternoon.
The strapping Brokeback Mountain star was naked, his bedside table strewn with prescription pills. And there was a rolled-up twenty-dollar bill near his body, the source told me. NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly confirmed those details just a few hours ago.
When police arrived, they found a bizarre scene, my source said. The massage therapist who was slated to work on Ledger at 3 p.m. was desperately performing CPR. A maid, the one who told investigators she heard Ledger snoring before the massage therapist showed up, was on the phone crying.
Within an hour of his death, the Soho block where Ledger moved after his split last year from Brokeback Mountain co-star Michelle Williams, the mother of his two-year-old daughter, had become electric with a cacophony of electronic media feeds, photographers bulbs, and police sirens. Williams was reportedly flying back from a film in Sweden yesterday. The couple had lived in a Brooklyn brownstone before their break-up.
At first blush, the “aided case” was reported as anonymously as possible. An aided case is the NYPD code used for unconscious or dead bodies without any clear signs of trauma, like a gunshot wound, that are found in seemingly unsuspicious circumstances. (Like in bed with sleeping pills and anxiety medication strewn about, along with a rolled-up double-sawbuck). The initial report, a copy of which was obtained by Boston magazine, was written up by a commander in the 5th Precinct, a police station located in lower Manhattan’s Chinatown:
ON TUESDAY, 01/22/08, AT APPROXIMATELY 1530 HOURS, IN THE CONFINES OF THE 5 PRECINCT, POLICE RESPONDED TO 421 BROOME STREET AND FOUND A M/W/28 UNCONSCIOUS. THE VICTIM WAS PRONOUNCED DOA AT THE SCENE. M.E.’S OFFICE TO DETERMINE THE CAUSE OF DEATH. INVESTIGATION CONTINUES.
Today the medical examiner announced that the initial autopsy was “inconclusive,” said the office spokeswoman Ellen Borakove.
“Inconclusive” usually means that everything about the autopsy is going to rely on the toxicology reports that, in my experience, could take anywhere from 10 days to three weeks to process.
“He was found on the floor, naked, facedown at the foot of the bed,” Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne today told the throngs of reporters, bloggers, and paparazzi that were corralled behind silver NYPD barriers that stretched a full block in either direction from Ledger’s building. “We are investigating the possibility of an overdose… There were pills within the vicinity of the bed.”
And the snoring heard by the maid, my detective source surmised, could have been Ledger’s exaggerated breathing efforts as the pills took effect.