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Mystery and Political Intrigue Swirl Around Anna Nicole Smith Tragedy

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Though Bahamian authorities finally issued a death certificate for Anna Nicole Smith’s 20-year-old son Daniel yesterday, mercifully allowing her to proceed with funeral arrangements, mystery and controversy still swirl around his sudden death in her hospital room on September 10, where he was visiting in celebration of the birth of her daughter three days earlier.

The cause of death was left “pending chemical analysis” upon the cert, a painfully open-ended situation for the statuesque blonde icon, who had repaired to the Caribbean nation to escape the prying eyes of the media after she became, to use her phrase, “pregnated.”

AnnaDaniel2 Smith privately brought in pathologist-to-the-stars Dr. Cyril Wecht (Elvis, JonBenet) to perform a second autopsy on her son, the results of which will not be available until next week. But in reviewing initial findings from the tests performed by the local coroner, Wecht said the antidepressant Lexapro was found in the young man’s system, “but probably not enough of it to kill him,” he told the New York Post.

Smith had reportedly been depressed for several weeks over a girl.

“If it was 10 times as high [the level of Lexapro in Smith’s body] … it might be considered a contributing factor,” Wecht said. But he added, “It’s not a close call … nowhere near a toxic range.” The sleeping medication Ambien was also found in Smith’s system, but again at low, “therapeutic,” levels.

Wecht also said that initial tests ruled out “everything … in the major category of drugs. They tested for tranquillizers, barbiturates, opiates.”

AnnaDanielSupremeCourtThe 75-year-old pathologist indicated that Daniel Smith had been treated for an elevated heart rate about six weeks ago, and he was still waiting to see doctors’ notes. “If drugs are not the answer, then it’s most likely his heart,” Wecht told the Post.

“Her Majesty’s Coroner” Canned

The Smith tragedy and attendant turmoil has also caused considerable static in the normally quaintly genteel Bahamian groove. “Her Majesty’s Coroner” Linda P. Virgill was roundly criticized from various camps for both the style and substance of her performance last week when she rather dramatically labeled Daniel’s death “suspicious,” and grandly declared that she already knew what had killed him — though she wasn’t telling — even though toxicology results were not yet in.

Too much C.S.I.?

Smith’s local attorney Michael Scott belittled Virgill, asking, “Unless she’s psychic or God, unless the pathologists know the cause of death, how does she?”

But Virgill was also criticized for offering celebrity Smith “preferential treatment” when she scheduled an inquest just three days after her son’s death – despite a large backlog of other cases.

In fact, Wednesday Chief Magistrate Roger Gomez announced that not only had Virgill been taken off the Smith case for “some remarks she made in the press,” but that the entire system for medical inquests was being overhauled in direct response to citizen complaints.

Gomez said that “angry Bahamians” had objected loudly to having Smith’s inquest scheduled so quickly (for October 23) while some had been waiting for years just to get a hearing date scheduled, and others “had … been given dates for their cases a couple years ago [but] are still waiting to have a hearing,” he told the local Nassau Guardian.

The magistrate added that the October 23 inquest would be canceled if tests show that Smith died of natural causes.

In a huffy editorial published today, the Guardian explained the change in the inquest system before rejecting it. “With just a memo from the Chief Justice and no warning, the specialist Coroner’s Court [i.e. Virgill] has been discontinued, with the system reverting to what it was more than a decade ago, adding the inquests into suspicious and questionable deaths to the already overburdened Magistrates’ Courts,” the editors write.

“The fact that some people may have complained about the date set for the Daniel Smith inquest is a poor excuse indeed for the dismantling of a working Coroner’s Court system,” they continue. “If Coroner Linda Virgill was at fault in moving the Smith inquest to the head of the line, then say an error in judgment was made and set a new and reasonable time. That should not be the basis for scrapping a system that is needed and was seen to be working,” they argue.

Pedro Ferguson, president of the Bahamas Funeral Directors and Embalmers Association, told the paper his group was “disappointed that we have to go back to the old system.”

Man, knee-jerk political reaction is the same the world over.

Anna Nicole a Bahamian

In more local politics, Smith was granted permanent residency in the Bahamas this week by immigration minister Shane Gibson, just three months after applying for it, causing even more wounded ejaculations of “favoritism” from those predisposed to do so. In an interview with the Guardian, Gibson said, “We are inviting foreigners to invest 500 thousand dollars in a home and once [they] do it [they] are qualified for permanent residency. What is the problem with doing it as quickly as possible?” he asked not unreasonably.

The minister also confirmed rumors that he was on friendly terms with Anna Nicole Smith, and added that visiting her in the hospital in her “moment of duress” was exactly what a friend would do under the circumstances.

“That is how we sell the Bahamas – with a personal touch,” said Mr. Gibson. “People want to come here because of the friendly nature of Bahamian people.”

Okay then.

Photo Rights Sold

AnnaNicoleDanielInTouch Meanwhile, the former exotic dancer, model, 1993 Playboy Playmate of the Year, actress, reality TV star, and diet pill pitchwoman sold the rights to photos of herself, her new daughter — reported to be named Hannah — and Daniel shot in the her hospital room the night before his death to In Touch Weekly for somewhere between $400,000 and $600,000 in a bidding war.

In Touch executive editor Dan Wakeford said, “We purchased the photos, beating the competition. The photos were extremely emotive, and our readers are incredibly intrigued by this story.”

Daniel Smith was born to Anna Nicole and Bill Smith in 1986, the couple were each 17 at the time of their marriage in 1985 and divorced two years later. Daniel had small roles in his mother’s movies Skyscraper and To the Limit, and appeared regularly in her ’02-’04 reality series, The Anna Nicole Show, as well.

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About Eric Olsen

  • Spider Snack

    Well- it must have been something! Maybe even low levels of this antidepressant with the combination of Ambien- coupled with other factors played a part. All of these prescription drugs are not as safe as they want us to believe. I hope they solve this mystery.

  • Eric Olsen

    true Spider, it must have been SOMETHING. Sometimes, it seems, very random combinations of things can combine to kill a person seemingly out of nowhere. What were the odds against Steve Irwin being stung in the heart? It’s crazy.

    I really hope they figure it out too

  • billi

    i don’t believe drugs were a factor at all.i believe daniel’s cause of death is due to a rare heart condition. could you find out what some of these fatal conditions are ?

  • Eric Olsen

    billi, I will certainly follow this story and report on what they find

  • http://trish10022sbcglobal.net trish

    I just wish people would leave this woman and her family alone. If they had that kind of fame and money would they be saying the things they are saying right now?NO.Just because she is famous or a playboy bunny of the past doesn’t mean that there has to be something that involves foul play. Young paople die too. Everyday.Just because she has money doesn’t mean she does drugs or she had some thing to do with the death of her own child. Please just quit bashing her and give her some support even if she doesn’t know you or that you are doing it ,a little prayer goes a long way. Quit haten on her because you don’t have IT like she does. Her life isn’t exactly really nice right now either

  • Eric Olsen

    trish, I don’t think anyone here was bashing Nicole or suggesting anything nefarious. Like you say, people do die unexpectedly every day (well, not the same people, but you know what I mean) but it usually doesn’t get much attention unless there is fame or foul play involved. It probably was a freak combination of factors that somehow added up to this very sad situation.

    I used to think of her in cartoonish terms, but she became very real to me after this happened. As father of four I feel extremely bad for her.

  • susan flint

    who are the physicians who prescribe medications without knowing all the drugs their patient is taking – what a monumental recipe for disaster

  • DEMWA

    Have there been any funeral arrangements made for this kid. It looks like everybody is now focusing on the committment services, that of course are not legally binding. I just want to know has this kid been given a diginified burial service. Or he is still laying on the morgues table in the fridge. I think this story needs to be put to bed, and I think Daniel would have wanted a dignified funeral sevice, and laid to rest without all of the drama. Let’s be real this kid was always surrounded around his mother’s everyday drama. Don’t you think it’s fair for this to end now. So that Daniel can rest in peace, and so the Anna can begin the healing process for her to move forward with her life,s o that she is able to move forward with her new daughter. She already has enough to deal with now that there is question of who the father is to her new child. I think Daniel and Anna deserve PEACE, it’s really time to move forward, this kid has been dead for almost a month. And I haven’t heard anything about this kid being laid to rest. Put this thing to BED!