For every celebrity that has emerged successful from rehab, there are plenty more celebs that have died due to substance abuse issues. The names are familiar: Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Anna Nicole Smith, Heath Ledger, celebrities who died from prescription drug abuse. And now there is widening suspicion that pop superstar Michael Jackson’s name will be added to the list. This is an accounting of the time line surrounding his demise:
Rumors were increasing with the disappearance of Michael Jackson’s doctor from the performer’s rented home in Holmby Hills after his death on Thursday. The website TMZ reported that Michael Jackson was lethargic at rehearsal at the Staples Center the night before. At approximately 11:30 a.m. Pacific time on Thursday, his physician reportedly injected him with the synthetic pain killer Demerol. Shortly after he went into cardiac arrest and was unable to be revived. According to CNN, the doctor, with lawyer in tow, finally appeared for a three hour interview with the L.A. P.D. on Saturday.
The doctor, cardiologist Conrad Murray, was hired as Jackson’s London concert tour physician thirteen days before his death. His lawyer, Edward Chernoff, stated on Sunday that the doctor found Jackson in bed, not breathing but that he was warm to the touch and had a ” faint pulse,” before he immediately began CPR. He denied that Dr. Murray had given Jackson Demerol or any other painkillers.
The Jackson family’s requested second autopsy was completed on Saturday by a private pathologist. The results from that autopsy should be made available sooner than the coroner’s since there are not the same chain of evidence issues involved. Spokesman for the County Coroner, Craig Harvey, estimated that their autopsy and toxicology results would come in 4-6 weeks.
In a frank interview with Keith Olbermann on MSNBC on Friday, Jackson’s friend, spiritual guru Dr. Deepak Chopra, revealed that Michael Jackson tried to get him to prescribe Oxycontin for pain in 2005. Chopra said that Jackson avoided him for awhile after his request was denied. “I was very aware that there was a problem,” Chopra told Olbermann. “Michael was very good at finding the right doctors who could give him drugs.” Jackson’s nanny would call Chopra about Jackson’s “erratic behavior.” Chopra expressed that he had “a lot of anger right row,” about what he called the “enabling doctors” who were essentially, “legalized drug pushers,” and said that it was “about time for a real investigation.”
Fox News verified that Dr. Murray had been hired by the London concert promoter AEG at Michael Jackson’s insistence. While he is not being considered a suspect at this time, there are plenty of questions left unanswered. Why was a cardiologist Jackson’s full-time live-in doctor? If there was an underlying heart problem necessitating the services of a cardiologist, how did Jackson pass the physical required by the promoter’s insurance company? It was reported on MSNBC that insurance was only secured for the first ten or twenty concerts, not for the full run of fifty concerts which were to begin on July 13th. Is Dr. Murray one of those “enabling doctors,” that Deepak Chopra said that Jackson was so “good at finding?” And why was Dr. Murray performing CPR on a bed instead of the floor? New information is now emerging about Dr. Murray”s extensive personal, professional and financial problems.
The Jackson family is entitled to some answers and in the meantime, so much is unknown about the death of one of the most enigmatic and talented figures of all time. Perhaps those answers can provide another cautionary tale for those who would follow in the footsteps of Elvis, Marilyn, Anna Nicole, Heath, and Michael.