FROM THE NY TIMES CITY ROOM BLOG
Ledger Autopsy Is Inconclusive, Official Says
By Sewell Chan
Updated, 2:35 p.m. |
An autopsy of the actor Heath Ledger
was performed on Wednesday morning, but the results are inconclusive, according to Ellen Borakove, a spokeswoman for New York City’s chief medical examiner, Dr. Charles S. Hirsch
Additional blood and tissue testing needs to be performed before the manner and cause of death can be determined, Ms. Borakove said in a phone interview, estimating that the process could take 10 days to two weeks. “If you have no apparent cause, you have to do further testing,” she said.
No cause of death has been ruled out, she added. The autopsy, at the medical examiner’s headquarters at 520 First Avenue, near 30th Street on the East Side of Manhattan, began around 8:30 a.m. and lasted about two hours, she said.
The two types of tests that still have to be performed include toxicology, which examines the adverse effects of chemicals in the bloodstream, and histology, in which thin slices of tissue are analyzed by pathologists.
Ms. Borakove said the body was ready to be released to Mr. Ledger’s family for burial. “We don’t need to keep the body once the family is ready,” she said.
Mr. Ledger, 28, the Australian-born actor whose breakthrough role as a gay cowboy in the 2005 movie “Brokeback Mountain” earned him a nomination for an Academy Award, was found dead on Tuesday afternoon in an apartment at 421 Broome Street, between Crosby and Lafayette Streets, in SoHo. Prescription sleeping pills were found near his body, but it is not known if the medication played a role in his death.
WCBS-TV reported today that “along with the prescription drugs that were found in the apartment, police also recovered a rolled up $20 bill with narcotic residue on it” and that police “also found several drug packets containing an unknown substance.”
Asked about the CBS news report, Paul J. Browne, the Police Department’s chief spokesman, said it was largely inaccurate.
Mr. Browne said that investigators found a “rolled-up $20 bill” in the apartment where Mr. Ledger’s body was found, but he said that the police “never said residue was found on it.”
He said the bill had not yet undergone forensic tests. “We have a rolled-up $20 bill and we never said it had residue on it or was tested,” Mr. Browne said. “It will be tested, because it was rolled up.”
Mr. Browne said no other narcotics were found in the apartment. He speculated that WCBS — in reporting that several drug packets were found — might have been confusing it with some “blister pack” of prescription drugs. He said some prescription drugs were in bottles and some in blister packs.
“There was no narcotics found in the apartment, period,” Mr. Browne said.
Mr. Browne declined to identify the name of any physicians listed on the prescription drugs.
Al Baker and John Sullivan contributed reporting.
The Independant is reporting that the New York City Police Department is calling the death “possibly drug-related”
UPDATE:: NO EVIDENCE OF SUICIDE AS OF WEDNESDAY MORNING JAN 23 4:20 am
FOXNEWS DOT COM
NEW YORK — New Yorkers clustered outside the Soho loft apartment building where Heath Ledger was found dead on Tuesday said they were “devastated” and “anguished” to learn of the tragedy.
Tamba Mossa, the superintendent of 421 Broome Street — where Ledger had lived for the past four or five months — called the “Brokeback Mountain” actor a “very great man” but said he was blindsided by the news.
“I wasn’t prepared to hear about his death at that moment,” Mossa told a crush of reporters at the scene. “I’m very, very sad.”
But Ledger had seemed depressed recently, according to the superintendent.
“He looked sad,” said Mossa.
New York City Police officers guarded the entrance of the white apartment building, which sits on a cobblestone street in the swanky SoHo section of New York City next to a Nanette Lepore boutique. Swarms of paparazzi, fans and passersby milled about on the sidewalk. One woman came carrying flowers.
The Australian-born Ledger, 28, was found dead by his housekeeper Tuesday afternoon, naked and at the foot of the bed. Sleeping pills and other medications that had been prescribed to him were discovered in the apartment, according to police.
“I’m devastated,” said a young woman who lives in the neighborhood and identified herself only as Jen. “There was never any news of him being involved in anything other than his acting. I’m definitely a fan of his. This is shocking.”
She said she had spotted Ledger in the area a few times while he was still with his former fiancée, actress Michelle Williams, whom he met on the set of “Brokeback Mountain” and with whom he had a 2-year-old daughter named Matilda.
The couple, who lived together with the baby in Brooklyn, broke up last year. In recent months, Ledger had been renting the SoHo apartment.
One passerby on his way home was stunned to learn of the actor’s death.
“I wasn’t familiar with his work, but I just feel anguished,” said David M. Rheingold, 35, who works for a nonprofit. “I feel terrible for his daughter. It’s horrible, just horrible.”
One SoHo resident marveled at the throngs of people who had descended on the scene of Ledger’s death.
“In life, he would not have drawn any kind of crowd like this,” said Roark Dunn, 50, who produces photo shoots. “He’s comparatively obscure.”
Many of those who stopped in front of Ledger’s apartment building said they admired the actor’s work.
“I was moved by the movie ‘Brokeback Mountain,'” said Paul Khor, 40, a fashion buyer visiting from Singapore.
Three Fordham University freshmen and self-professed Ledger fans said they came to SoHo as soon as they heard the news.
“We’re sad,” said Daria Tavana, 19, a playwright major. “He’s somebody who recently had begun to take on really hard roles. It’s totally unbelievable.”
Another onlooker said he appreciated Ledger’s acting and called his performance in “I’m Not There,” the recent Bob Dylan film, “tortured.”
“I respect him very much. He seemed like a legitimate artist,” said the 28-year-old journalist, who declined to give his name but said he works in the neighborhood. “In this day in age, it’s hard to get shocked about any celebrity passing, but he was a really talented actor. It’s sad he’s not going to be around anymore.”
From The Seattle Post Intelligencer Blog
Update, 3:25 p.m.: Paolo Dayao, 26, attended Stadium High School in Tacoma and was an extra in “10 Things I Hate About You.” In an e-mail we asked what he remembered of Ledger. He responded:
I remember him being really nice and down to earth. I guess since he was unknown at the time we did that movie, he didn’t have that Hollywood snobbiness that some of the other actors had. He hung out with the extras in between takes and I remember that he didn’t always go back to his trailer like some of the others would when they were setting up the next scenes. I did get a chance to hang out with him and play hacky sack in between some of the scenes that we shot. He was a pretty nice guy.
Hacky sack with Heath Ledger. Wow.
Two years ago this month, actor Heath Ledger learned that his breakthrough performance in Ang Lee’s “Brokeback Mountain” earned him an Academy Award nomination. Today, hours after a new slate of actors heard about their Oscar hopes, Ledger was found dead.
Ledger was not a Seattleite. He was a not a Northwesterner. But for anyone who remembers the filming of “10 Things I Hate About You,” he was — at least for a short time — a presence in the region.
At Gasworks Park, he tamed Julia Stiles over a game of paintball. At Stadium High School in Tacoma, he frolicked over the bleachers, singing to Stiles during soccer practice and delighting dozens and dozens of student extras. The film also featured location shots at Seattle’s Fremont Troll and the Buckaroo Tavern. (See our 1999 review and the Seattle Film Office map for more.)