It was finally released to the public, after an extensive string of toxicology testing, that Daniel Smith, Anna Nicole's 20 year old son, who passed away almost two weeks ago, only three days after his baby sister was born, died from a lethal combination of the drugs methadone, Zoloft and Lexapro, resulting in what is called "cardiac dysrhythmia" and Daniel's sudden, shocking death.
But how shocking? Anna Nicole has had a history of drug abuse and has shown up numerous times to public events and caught on tape, on her own reality show on E!, talking and acting as if she was heavily sedated. When the news first came out that Daniel Smith had died, many pointed the finger at drug abuse, but those of Anna Nicole's camp balked, claiming he had a history of heart disease.
Still, representatives for Anna Nicole call this an "accidental death," in which Daniel, who was supposedly prescribed this combination of drugs for depression, was "celebrating" with his mother over the birth of his baby sister, and that that unknown "celebration" coupled with the drugs led to his cardiac arrest. Maybe this will help guide Anna for the next part of her life in her own choices concerning drug use and abuse, as she begins to raise another child in a whole new, world - one that sadly includes the burial of a first born son.
Now here is one more intriguing twist in the tale, one that harkens back to my childhood growing up in Squirrel Hill in Pittsburgh. My brother used to play with the son of Cyril Wecht, at the time a local coroner with political ambitions.
Now how the heck does this connect to the Anna Nicole story you wonder?
Well, it's thanks to a blurb in yesterday's USA Today. Cyril Wecht has been engaged by Anna Nicole's legal team to conduct a second autopsy (which he has done) to hopefully counter the toxicity findings of the first. Now why Cyril from Pittsburgh I found myself musing out loud.
It turns out that Cyril has become quite the celebrity coroner as Director of the Pittsburgh Institute of Legal Medicine. His expertise has also been utilized in high profile cases involving Mary Jo Kopechne, Sunny von Bulow, Jean Harris, Dr. Jeffrey McDonald, the Waco Branch Davidian fire, and Vincent Foster. And he has written books about high profile deaths with books ranging from Cause of Death, Grave Secrets, and Who Killed JonBenet Ramsey? The other unique angle on Cyril Wecht is that he has spent much of his professional life under the scrutiny of prosecutors. He has been indicted by a grand jury.
And Wecht is currently facing an upcoming trial after having been indicted in January 20, 2006 on 84 counts of mail fraud, wire fraud and related crimes from his alleged use of government resources for his private practice. To be more specific, he has been accused in just one of these 84 allegations of taking cadavers with no known next of kin from his County Coroner's Office and trading them to a university in exchange for lab space for his private practice. FBI agents searched his office, seized computers and private files, and three of his employees quit as the federal investigation proceeded.
Here is some of the lurid background on charges dropped out of separate 1979 charges: "In 1979, Wecht was accused of depositing autopsy fees into a personal account rather than the Coroner's office account. He argued that the charges were politically motivated as he was running for Allegheny County Commissioner at the time. He faced criminal charges for the incident but was acquitted when the case went to trial. The county then sued him seeking $390,000. After losing the case in 1983, he appealed and after a nine year battle, the case was finally settled out of court in 1992 after Wecht agreed to pay $200,000 in damages." From wikipedia encyclopedia online: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyril_Wecht
Let's just say I am not waiting for baited breath for Cyril's findings that drugs likely played no part whatsoever in Anna Nicole's son's death. And my advice to Anna Nicole is to keep a close watch on her son's body. Yikes!
Image from People