Brittany Murphy‘s death is still a mystery more than 8 years after she passed away. The Clueless actress was easily considered one of America’s favorite sweethearts when she left this earth way too soon. She was only 32 when she was discovered unconscious in her Los Angeles home on December 20, 2009. While many of us grew up getting to know Murphy in hits like Clueless, Uptown Girls, and Just Married (Murphy even lent her voice to iconic movies like Happy Feet and the King of the Hill series), she did have the stereotypical child star relapses and troubled times as she was surrounded by rumors of drug addiction and a toxic marriage to her husband Simon Monjack. The two were only married for about two years before Murphy’s mysterious passing. And although it has almost been a decade since Murphy’s death caused a shock around the nation, there are still several unknown factors about it that make her death one that could always be known as an unsolved mystery.
There is little known about what happened that fateful day. Still, the Lifetime network tried to tackle it in a television movie called The Brittany Murphy Story back in 2014. But of course, that’s not a valid or reliable source in putting together any of the pieces of what really happened to Murphy. The story is certainly an intriguing one and has kicked off several conspiracy theories as there are still plenty of things we don’t know about Brittany Murphy’s death.
15. Were Drugs A Factor?
The first thing we have to tackle is the possible factor of drugs being involved in Murphy’s passing. The Los Angeles County coroner’s office released multiple reports and updates as they found out more about the condition that Murphy’s body was in just hours before she died. On Feb. 4, 2010, a coroner’s report said pneumonia, iron deficiency anemia, and multiple drug intoxication played a part in Murphy’s death. In the report for Feb. 25, 2010, the coroner revealed that Murphy was taking over-the-counter medications as well as ones prescribed by a doctor. While it was all said to be legal, the medicine did include high levels of hydrocodone, acetaminophen, L-methamphetamine, and chlropheniramine. The coroner then ruled Murphy’s death an accident considering the levels were within the legal limit. Still, the mystery comes as the reported stated, “the possible adverse psychological effects of the elevated levels of these medications cannot be discounted, especially in her weakened state.” It really makes you wonder what was going through Murphy’s mind when she took the medicine, especially since 90 bottles of prescription bottles were recovered from the home.
14. Her Father’s Heavy Suspicions That She Was Poisoned
Murphy’s father, Angelo Bertolotti, had suspicions of his own about the coroner’s report and did his own, independent investigation into Murphy’s passing. He went as far as getting a court order to test his late daughter’s hair samples. That was said to have found “abnormally high levels” of 10 potentially toxic heavy metals such as barium, which is mostly recognized for its use in rat poison. The L.A. County Assistant Chief Coroner, Ed Winter, spoke about Bertolotti’s test and said that while heavy metals were present, a doctor told her family that it was from coloring her hair. “She wasn’t poisoned, and we stand by the cause of death. She died from over-the-counter medicines, pneumonia, and anemia,” Winter reiterated. That part of the case was tossed out after Murphy’s father didn’t show up for a hearing. Something about this whole situation still has me giving a heavy side eye. Interestingly enough, Murphy’s mother didn’t believe Bertolotti’s claims, but he later even accused her of being a part of their daughter’s death after Murphy’s will left everything to her mom, Sharon Murphy, and not Brittany’s husband.
13. Was It Toxic Mold That Killed Her?
Of course things didn’t end there, as questions continued to surface about Brittany’s passing and what caused it. Her family, friends, and even fans wanted answers, and rightfully so. But despite the coroner’s report, the Los Angeles County Department of Health also said that toxic mold in Murphy and her husband’s Los Angeles mansion could have also been a factor in the death. But an expert in the coroner’s office said this was absolutely not the case. Sharon also took great lengths, including legal action, in hopes of proving that the idea of toxic mold in the home was “absurd.” She said the Health Department never actually requested to do an inspection of the now fateful home. The coroner did shut down any reports of the mold and said it was not a factor. Still, the idea that none of the environmental reviews of the home have ever been made public makes this point a mystery.
12. The Inconsistencies In The Medical Reports
From her father’s claim of poison to the autopsy report first saying Brittany died of “natural causes” before pointing the finger at pneumonia, there are so many inconsistencies about Brittany’s passing that it makes it look even more suspicious and mysterious. Notable forensic pathologist Dr. Cyril Wecht told E! News that even he still isn’t convinced the cause of Brittany’s death has been confirmed. “I had questions initially and those questions remain.” When it comes to Winter’s claim that the poison discovered was hair dye, Wecht had a different take on it. “If the coroner wanted to dispute or reject those lab results, their duty and responsibility is to investigate and those authorities look in that. The autopsy makes no mention of heavy metals and as I recall, the toxicology performed by the L.A. office didn’t show any high metals either. It’s boggling that there are so many questions for the case that seemed to be treated as one that was open and shut.
11. She Fought Off Cocaine Rumors
The drug speculation is certainly a major one considering Brittany spent some of her last days fighting off rumors that she was using cocaine. Critics pointed out her small and tiny physique and credited it to her alleged but widely reported struggle with drugs. Her body was often described as “frail.” But Brittany made a point to dismiss any claims that she was using cocaine. “I have never tried it in my entire life,” she told Jane magazine just years before her death. “I’ve never even seen it. It couldn’t be further from the truth.” She still had to shut down the rumors when she promoted her film Sin City. That time she was also facing reports that she suffered from an eating disorder. “I’m the same size I was in Clueless. It’s just that the weight in your face changes as you grow and get older. This is my body. I’m proud of it. I’m healthy.”
10. Her Dark, Inner Struggle
Amid speculation surrounding Brittany’s very small physique when she died, one friend revealed, “She had insane self-image issues. Her weight, her hair, her clothes, her skin, her teeth, everything. She was always so self-conscious.” One friend also confirmed that, “She wore extraordinary amounts of makeup, tons of fake eyelashes, got her teeth capped, dyed her hair blonde, lost weight – she wanted to be a beauty. She didn’t want to be the fat girl from Clueless.” Even the movie’s director, Amy Heckerling, said that Murphy’s insecurities could date back to when she starred in classic teen movie. “She seemed to go through a change on Clueless. Maybe she felt like she was not the skinny, pretty girl. And then the next few movies she was, you know, thinner, blonde…going out with Eminem and Ashton Kutcher.” It’s not clear if these deep issues were a factor in her passing, but it’s also not clear if they were considered.
9. Her Husband Didn’t Have The Best Image
Unfortunately, while the star’s parents were going back-and-forth, it was also brought up that Monjack wasn’t exactly the male version of Brittany when it comes to her America’s Sweetheart status. Instead, he was known as a bad boy who had what could have potentially been a toxic influence on Murphy. But his reputation went past speculation when someone who actually worked with him solidified the negative connotation about Brittany’s husband. George Hickenlooper, who was the director of the movie Factory Girl that Monjack wrote on, described him as a “con man and a bad guy.” He even said in an online blog, “I only hope that this creep wasn’t instrumental in her sad demise.” While there doesn’t appear to be any investigation against Brittany, Monjack’s possibly involvement might be something we never know. He did speak out about the speculation, which didn’t help at all. “I think the biggest misconception is that I was living off my wife,” he said in an interview with Radar Online. “Brittany, forgive me – people don’t seem to want to hear it. I was paying the bills. Brittany was making these awful films that went straight to DVD – so horrible that she wanted to kill herself.”
8. Was Monjack’s Death Related?
After Monjack’s shocking comments, he was actually found dead in the home he and Murphy shared together just five months following her passing. What’s even more interesting is that he is said to have the same cause of death as Brittany: pneumonia. Apparently officials such as the Los Angeles Police Department have yet to say whether they investigated any potential foul play for Murphy and Monjack’s deaths. A representative for the police department told E! News in 2016, “At this time, Robbery Homicide Detectives are not available to provide additional information on the matter.” But as far as Monjack’s past is concerned, he did have two warrants out for his arrest in Virginia for his suspected involvement of credit-card theft and fraud along with an outstanding legal bill of more than six thousand dollars plus a $502,910 judgment against him after a legal battle with an investment company in Europe. And that’s not even all of the issues he was facing when he and Brittany died. Sharon, Brittany’s mom, is the one who found Monjack in the same room Brittany died. There were also tons of pill bottles found at the home, just like Brittany’s case.
7. Her Close Friends Still Have Questions
We might have put Brittany’s death in the back of the nostalgic section of our minds at times, but her close friends like actress Jaime Pressly still have some level of determination to find out what happened to her. Pressly made an appearance on E!’s popular show Hollywood Medium in which Tyler Henry claimed he felt a woman named Brittany’s spirit in their interview. He said that the spirit was telling him that Brittany was being manipulated and taken advantage of by someone close to her. This sparked more speculation that Monjack did not have Brittany’s best interest at heart. “She’s blaming an outside influence and saying she was in a very manipulative situation, where I actually feel an outside person was detrimental in influencing a lot of her actions or inactions in certain areas.” Interestingly enough, there was speculation that he could have been referring to her parents.
6. How Were Government Spies Involved?
Aside from blaming Sharon, Brittany’s father was also convinced that the government was involved in her death; making it one of the biggest conspiracy theories surrounding the actress. Bertolotti said that there was a strong possibility that Brittany was under investigation after she was very outspoken about her support for Julia Davis. Davis was an agent in the Department of Homeland Security and was said to have rubbed people the wrong way when she revealed domestic security issues such as potential terrorists bribing the officials at customs in order to get into the United States. “They were, in fact, under surveillance, including helicopters,” Brittany’s father alleged. He also said their phones were tapped and Brittany was living as a scared prisoner in her home “because of the sneak-and-peek incursions into their residence. And other terror tactics she suffered after speaking out in support of Julia Davis and being named as a witness in her lawsuit against the Department of Homeland Security.” Sketchy, sketchy.
5. The Last Days Of Her Life Are Chilling
Author Bryn Curt James took fans even deeper into the mysterious case of Brittany’s death in his book A Case For Murder: Brittany Murphy Files. He revealed in the book that the actress was living in a very dirty and even filthy environment, or as he called it, “squalor,” in the last days of her life. He added that her bed was “surrounded by a mountain of clothes, make-up, perfumes, an oxygen machine and medical supplies.” He also pointed out that her sheets were “twisted and drenched in sweat.” While the author rules out murder, he did add that Murphy was not necessarily considered healthy before she died. One film producer said he never actually saw Murphy eat a meal but rather appeared to live on coffee. There is speculation that her addiction for pain killers took its course in her final days. The author said his fascination with Brittany started after he interviewed her, so he wanted to dig more into her death.
4. The Case Is Still Closed
Despite the questions and even the inconsistencies in the reports, the case has been closed. Even with Monjack’s shocking statement and her father’s discovery that heavy metals were in her system, the death has been ruled as “accidental” almost from the beginning. Even the LAPD agreed that Monjack “obviously was a shady guy.” But it decided to stick with the coroner’s report. “If the coroner concludes it is ‘accidental’ death, there isn’t much police can do unless there is evidence to suggest foul play. Their hands are tied,” a law enforcement insider who knew about the case told E! News. But Wecht said all that could be done to investigate has not been touched. “I would have checked to see if the private lab results were valid and if they could be corroborated and analyzed whether there was exposure and where did thee exposure come from. You have two people, a husband and a wife five months of each other, and, not engaging in any wild speculation, two young people dying five months apart. You’ve got to check it out.”
3. Speculation That Simon Monjack Moved On With Brittany’s Mom
Now, this is just crazy. But considering Sharon was the one who discovered Monjack’s dead body, months after Brittany’s passing, makes one wonder what she was doing at the home to begin with. It’s not clear if it’s Hollywood’s fascination with a good scandal that couldn’t have been better if it was written for a television series or movie, or if Monjack and Sharon really did find comfort in one another after Brittany’s shocking passing. But there hasn’t been proof of a romantic relationship between the two. The speculation started when Sharon explained why there were prescription bottles with her name found in the home. She then pointed out her own “side of the bed” in the bedroom. Sharon not only shut down rumors that there were no medicine bottles in her name, but that when she pointed to the side of bed, she was saying that it was the side Brittany slept on, not her.
2. Her Case Could Be Reopened
While the coroner seems to be set in his ways when it comes to what killed Brittany Murphy, there were reports last year that the investigation could be opened up once again – but only under a few conditions. “We would have to have direct evidence,” Ed Winter said in an interview. “In all honesty, it would take something like a confession; something connecting somebody with it.” Still, considering they don’t have that, Winter has made it clear that there are no plans to reopen the case unless some of these aspects change, even if police push for the case to be looked into again. “If the police wanted to conduct an investigation or if somebody came to us and said, ‘This is the following circumstances, did you guys find this or this? Then we would contact the law enforcement agency and also say, ‘The family or somebody came and said that somebody confessed to actually putting some sort of poison in her food.’”
1. Could It Have Been Prevented?
Despite the many questions, inconsistencies, and mysteries surrounding Brittany Murphy’s death, there is also speculation that it could have been prevented. While we don’t know what (or possibly who) killed Brittany, it has been said that she might still be alive if her mother, Sharon, called the ambulance just 24 hours earlier. Brittany’s alleged fall from grace made her not even want to go outside; that includes the times she should have sought medical help when she had trouble breathing. On top of that she was said to be taking so many pills that it could have been difficult to tell just how sick she was. But her mother might not have realized it until after Brittany fell into her arms that fateful morning. Monjack’s mother, Linda Monjack, also said their home, or as she described it, a “place of unhealthiness” didn’t help matters when Brittany was taking the medicine.