It always seems that in the midst of mourning over the death of a star, details about their personal lives, and how it may have caused their death, leak to the press and begin to paint a different picture of the celebrity. In just one scoop, a celebrity passing can go from sad to sinister. Heath Ledger‘s death revealed concerns about his mental health, but also the fact that he was dating Mary-Kate Olsen in secrecy. Whitney Houston’s death rocked the industry during Grammys weekend, but more questions were raised when we found out that an investigator looking into Houston’s death was sure that drug dealers hired hitmen to kill the pop icon in her Beverly Hills hotel room. Just this month, Michael Jackson’s death made its way back into the headlines when his only daughter, Paris, told Rolling Stone that she was certain Jackson’s 2009 death from an overdose of propofol was actually a murder “setup.” And the same year Jackson died, 32-year-old Clueless actress, Brittany Murphy died from what was ruled as an “accidental death,” of a combination of pneumonia, anemia and multiple-drug intoxication. However, in 2013, Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, commissioned a lab to test Murphy’s hair samples. The report alleged that the test revealed heavy metals found in rat poison. In an interview with Good Morning America that same month, Bertolotti said: “I have a feeling that there was a definite murder situation here. Yeah, it’s poison. Yes, yes, I know that.”
Despite death certificates and autopsy reports, there are just some celebrity deaths, so shady, we can’t help but question. From Tupac and Biggie’s unsolved murders to the conspiracy theories surrounding Brittany Murphy’s overdose, here are 15 confounding celebrity deaths, and glaring tidbits that make them so shady.
15. Heath Ledger And The Mary Kate Olsen Connection
There were a lot of creepy details surrounding the tragic death of actor Heath Ledger, like the fact that his SoHo loft became a shrine for The Joker in order to prepare for his infamous role as the villain in The Dark Knight. But one other detail about his death revealed a secret three-month relationship with actress/fashion designer Mary Kate Olsen. Diana Wolozin, the masseuse who found Ledger’s body naked and face down in his bedroom, called Mary Kate before calling 911. That revelation was a shock, and also a suspicious one. According to a report, police said Wolozin spent nine minutes making three calls to Olsen before the paramedics arrived. But here’s where it gets shady: Olsen twice declined requests from the Drug Enforcement Administration to speak to officials, refusing to answer questions without immunity from any prosecution which could follow.
14. Brittany Murphy’s Husband Had A Shady Past
Brittany Murphy’s untimely death is still shrouded in mystery years later. Murphy’s death was ruled accidental due to natural causes, the autopsy cited pneumonia, anemia, and an accidental mix of prescription and over-the-counter drugs. But when her husband, screenwriter Simon Monjack died of the same causes, rumors of his sinister past came to light. Director George Hickenlooper, who worked on Factory Girl with Monjack, called the screenwriter a “con man and a bad guy.” In a post on a Hollywood movie blog shortly after her death, Hickenlooper wrote, “I only hope that this creep wasn’t instrumental in her sad demise. Could Monjack have something do with the accidental deaths? It still remains unclear, however, after years of mounting suspicion, Brittany’s father Angelo Bertolotti raised some doubt when he commissioned a shocking independent lab report that purportedly found alarming levels of “heavy metals” in Murphy’s system.
13. Marilyn Monroe’s Alleged Affairs With RFK And JFK
Marilyn Monroe’s death has been the subject of endless conspiracy theories, but the latest theory from Jay Margolis, a long-time investigative reporter and Monroe expert and Richard Buskin may be the wildest one. In their book, The Murder of Marilyn Monroe: Case Closed, the duo claim that Monroe’s suicide was actually a murder orchestrated by Bobby Kennedy. The writers claim that once Monroe had fallen in love with Bobby, she wanted to take their relationship to the public. But when Bobby ended their affair, she threatened to reveal the scandalous details, as well as Kennedy family secrets by publishing the contents of her diary. This would destroy Bobby Kennedy’s political career. In order to silence the actress from going public with the relationship, Kennedy allegedly forged a secret alliance with her psychiatrist, Dr. Ralph Greenson. In the book, Margolis and Buskin make the astonishing claim that it was Kennedy who instructed the doctor to give the star a fatal injection of pentobarbital to the heart.
12. The Hotel Tried To Hide Anna Nicole Smith’s Death
Before Kim Kardashian West, the tabloid sensation queen was Anna Nicole Smith. Every single detail about her private life became a hot headline, so when she died unexpectedly at the age of 39, just months after her 20-year-old son’s shocking death – the rumor mill exploded with theories of foul play. The shadiest finding however came straight from the judge overseeing the six-day trial that focused on the death and the remains of Anna Nicole Smith. In his 2010 book, Judge Larry Seidlin writes that the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino went to great lengths to hide the fact that Smith died in that room. Staff at the Hollywood, Fla. establishment reportedly refurbished the room, changed the numbering system on the entire floor, and even hired a forensic staff to cleanse the scene. Some theorists have called the efforts to remove every stitch of evidence.
11. Lisa “Left eye” Lopes Death Retaliation?
For TLC fans, the 2002 death of Lisa “Left Eye” Lopes in a car accident in Honduras raised red flags from the very beginning. First, police said that the singer was not wearing a seatbelt, but video footage found in the wreckage which documented the singer’s trip proved the claim wrong. The crash was ruled an incident, but later rumors began to fly that Lopes’ collision was actually retaliation for a previous incident where she struck and killed a 7-year-old boy. According to sources, the family of the child contacted an infamous hitman, who arranged an attack on Lopes and her entourage. Snopes debunked the story about the child, but in the video footage of Lisa’s trip leading up to her death there is in fact a recording of Lisa’s incident with the child.
10. Nick Gordon’s Involvement In Bobbi Kristina Brown Death
The only child of the late Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, Bobbi Kristina Brown was found unresponsive in her bathtub in 2015, and remained in a coma until she died six months later. As this was going on, her family had filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Gordon, alleging that after a “cocaine and drinking binge” he beat her up, gave her a cocktail that forced her to pass out and placed her in the bathtub where she died. The Brown and Gordon family have been waging this legal battle in court since her death until a judge ruled Gordon legally responsible for the death of Brown. An autopsy of the body ruled the death was due to a drug intoxication and immersion of water “due to intentional or accidental causes.” Gordon will not be criminally charged, but is now ordered to pay $36 million to Bobbi Kristina’s estate.
9. The Crips Connection Into Tupac’s Death
The murder of Tupac Shakur may go down as one of the most jarring, unsolved mysteries in hip hop history. It sparked a wave of rumors, but one that keeps coming back is the theory that Sean “Diddy” Combs paid off the Crips to kill Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight. In the documentary Murder Rap, Duane Keith, the uncle of Crips member and Death Row Records affiliate, Orlando Anderson, alleges that Diddy feared Knight and offered a million dollars to South Side Compton Crips to kill Death Row Records head. The money was never delivered, and since there’s no concrete evidence that it was actually Diddy who made a deal with the Crips, the claim is basically impossible to prove in court. According to Anderson, P. Diddy was in danger and could not turn to the cops since most of them were employed by Suge Knight himself.
8. Jenni Rivera’s Connection To Drug King Pins
Five years after Jenni Rivera’s death, a new conspiracy links her fatal plane crash to Edgar Valdez Villarreal, aka La Barbie, a Mexican drug cartel kingpin. Rumors that Villarreal downed the plane went wild after the singer’s father, Don Pedro Rivera, announced plans to investigate Jenni’s death for any possible foul play. An anonymous witness came forward and admitted that Rivera and Villareal had an argument and a falling out weeks before her death. Even the former chief of international operations for the DEA, Mike Vigil, confirmed that during their last social encounter, Rivera allegedly threatened to “discredit his drug trafficking activities.” But it’s not enough for him to believe Villarreal shot the plane down. Another source told The Latin Times that Rivera was threatened before and during her performance at Arena Monterrey in Nuevo Leon Mexico, hours before her death. The Times also notes that the plane that Rivera was flying in the night of her death was owned by Christian Eduardo Esquino Núñez, an alleged drug trafficker.
7. Paris Jackson Believes That Michael Jackson Was Murdered
Michael Jackson is another deceased pop star with a long list of conspiracy theories. It’s a notoriously shady death; the pop star overdosed on propofol and later, it was ruled that his personal physician, Conrad Murray was guilty of involuntary manslaughter. Making the entire case even shadier is a recent claim from Paris Jackson, who says her father was murdered in a set up. In an interview with Rolling Stone, Paris Jackson said what you’re probably telling yourself right now— “It sounds like a total conspiracy theory and it sounds like bullsh*t.” But according to the model, “real fans and everybody in the family knows it was a setup.” When asked who would want to have her father killed, Jackson cryptically said she is playing a “chess game. And I am trying to play the chess game the right way. And that’s all I can say about that right now.” Even more troubling, at just 11, Jackson says her father would tell her, “they’re gonna kill me one day.”
6. Aaliyah’s Tragic Plane Crash
With a third album just released and movie projects lined up, singer Aaliyah had reached a pinnacle in her career when her life was cut short in an August 2001 plane crash in the Bahamas. Fans mourned the death of the R&B singer, but as investigation went underway conflicting stories about the cause of the crash grabbed the headlines. Investigators said that the plane was overloaded with luggage at the time of the crash. According to witnesses, the singer’s choreography team and plane security fought over the acceptable weight – ultimately the choreographers got their way. Later, the autopsy of the plane’s pilot, Luis Morales III, who died in the accident with the singer and her entourage, would reveal that he had traces of cocaine and alcohol in his urine and alcohol in his stomach.
5. Joan Rivers Never Consented To The Procedure That Took Her Life
The world was in shock when it was confirmed that Joan Rivers had passed away in the operating room. Once an investigation was launched, more news would trickle out that would reveal some horrible truths about Rivers’ doctor, Dr. Gwen Korovin. First, Korovin took a selfie with the comedian minutes after she stopped breathing. Another source later confirmed that Rivers never consented to the procedure that killed her. According to the source, “Dr. Korovin never should have been in the operating room to begin with — certainly not to perform any procedure on Joan, since she didn’t have privileges to do so at the clinic.” In response, Melissa Rivers sued Yorkville Endoscopy as well as the doctor and settled for millions of dollars without even reaching the deposition stage.
4. Prince’s Pills Were Mislabeled
After weeks of investigation, the toxicology tests for Prince concluded that the entertainer died from an accidental overdose of the opioid fentanyl, according to a report on his death by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office. But during the investigation, many were stunned to find out that the pills police found at his Paisley Park compound were mislabeled. Yep. Instead of saying fentanyl, the pills were incorrectly labeled as hydrocodone. It’s unclear whether or not the singer was aware of the label issue. And while it’s near impossible to prove who exactly provided Prince with fentanyl, the mislabeling could have only happened two ways – the pharmaceutical manufacturer could have made the error, or the pills were illegally manufactured and then obtained illegally for the pop star. That remains a mystery. The probe into the pills were later dropped by Prince’s family.
3. Whitney Houston’s Grammys Weekend Death
On the weekend of the Grammys, just floors above mentor Clive Davis’ annual party, Whitney Houston died of an accidental drowning after falling into a scalding bath while high on drugs. Or so the reports say. Los Angeles private investigator Paul Huebl, claims there is evidence that Houston was murdered by two hitmen sent by drug dealers to collect a $1.5 million debt. According to the PI, who was hired by an unnamed person connected to Houston, surveillance video footage exists of two men pretending to be part of Houston’s entourage entering her room while the singer is alone. Huebl believes that when they demanded the money, she refused to give it to them and then things got physical. Huebl also suspects that some of Houston’s security detail knew the real cause of death. Despite turning the evidence into the FBI, months after Houston’s death police concluded that foul play was not involved.
2. Notorious B.I.G
Eerily similar to Tupac Shakur, Notorious B.I.G. was in the passenger seat of a car with
entourage and security when another vehicle pulled up to the side of the car and opened fire, shooting the rapper. This murder also rocked the music world ushering a wave of theories. But no theory gets as in depth as retired detective Greg Kading’s hunch that a hitman was hired to kill Biggie in response to Tupac’s death. Kading believes that the gunman is Wardell ‘Poochie’ Fouse, who was hired by West Coast rivals to take out Biggie. “The co-conspirators are absolutely known,” Kading alleges. “But they would be very problematic prosecutions because of all of the convoluted peripheral issues that were raised during the investigation.” Kading argues that while the case remains a mystery to the general public, within the department they consider the murder of B.I.G. solved.
1. George Michael’s Body Has Not Been Released Yet
George Michael’s death may be this year’s first head scratching case. Although the icon’s body was found on Christmas Day by his partner Fadi Fawaz, Michael’s body has not been released. A coroner is still waiting to see if drugs could have contributed to his death. Not only is his cause death still unknown (despite unverified reports of congestive heart failure), his boyfriend Fadi Fawaz was under investigation for involvement in the death of Michael. After Fawaz found the 53-year-old star dead in his bed on Christmas morning, he had initially claimed that he and Michael had been together on the night he died. Later, he changed his story and said he had slept in his car and the singer died alone. Michael’s family banned Fawaz from the funeral and his cause of death still remains a mystery.