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Tuesday, May 21, 2024 | Back issues
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Dad Doubts Brittany Murphy’s Autopsy Report

LOS ANGELES (CN) - Brittany Murphy's estranged biological father has sued the Los Angeles Coroner's Office for the release of the late actress's hair samples, claiming he needs them to investigate "suspicious circumstances" surrounding her death.

Angelo Bertolotti of Studio City, Calif., says that he paid to secure the preservation of Murphy's specimens for five years, and wants the Superior Court to order release of her head, facial, arm and pubic hairs so he can test them for toxins at an independent lab. He sued the Los Angeles Coroner's Office and the Los Angeles Police Department.

"Plaintiff Angelo Bertolotti is the natural father of deceased Brittany Anne Murphy-Monjack, who expired under suspicious circumstances at the age of 32 years old on December 20, 2009," the pro se complaint states. "Since the time of death of plaintiff's daughter, Brittany Anne Murphy-Monjack, plaintiff exhausted all extrajudicial means of ensuring that his daughter's death is finally and fully investigated. In spite of his efforts, to date there has been no investigation, none of the potential witnesses and/or persons of interest have been questioned and only very basic autopsy procedures/toxicology testing has been performed."

Murphy was found unconscious in the bathroom of her Hollywood Hills home on Dec. 20, 2009, and she was announced dead on arrival at Ceders-Sinai Medical Center.

The Los Angeles county coroner attributed Murphy's death to pneumonia in February, noting that she was also anemic and had some over-the-counter and prescription medications in her system.

In meetings with Chief Coroner Ed Winter and Los Angeles Police Detective Brandstetter, Bertolotti "repeatedly voiced his concerns about these findings being incorrect, since the testing/toxicology was incomplete and the death of Brittany Anne Murphy-Monjack was never properly investigated," according to the complaint.

"Officials heading the case from the Los Angeles Coroner's Office and the Los Angeles Police Department admitted that decedent's hair was never tested," he says. "Both agencies admitted that toxicology tests were not performed on the hair of Brittany Anne Murphy-Monjack, but refused to ever test her hair and other specimens for any poisons, toxins or heavy metals, as plaintiff repeatedly requested."

"The Los Angeles Coroner's Office and Los Angeles Police Department intended to destroy decedent's specimens, including but not limited to her hair, even though they were not fully and appropriately tested," the lawsuit states. "Plaintiff made a payment and officially secured the preservation of his daughter's specimens for 5 years."

Bertolotti says the pneumonia finding is a result of a "lack of investigative efforts by the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and the failure to conduct toxicology tests on the specimens of the decedent Brittany Anne Murphy-Monjack by the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office and the LAPD."

Arsenic poisoning has sometimes been misdiagnosed as death from pneumonia and anemia, according to the complaint, and the coroner's office did not test Murphy's hair for any poisons, toxins or heavy metals.

"Therefore, the only remaining venue that would allow decedent's father to determine a true cause of his daughter's death requires a court order for release of specimens of Brittany Anne Murphy-Monjack to the independent laboratory of plaintiff's choosing to conduct any and all remaining toxicology and/or any other outstanding tests," the lawsuit states.

Late last year, Murphy's mother, Sharon Murphy, sued her law firm over a settlement negotiated with the builders of Murphy's Hollywood Hills home.

Sharon claimed that the lawyers should not have let her sign the settlement because toxic mold in the home may have contributed to her daughter's death.

Months after Murphy died, her widowed husband, Simon Monjack, also died of pneumonia and severe anemia in the same house.

Bertolotti told The Hollywood Reporter said that an independent inspection of Murphy's hair may show that toxic mold contributed to the actress's death. Bertolotti "I'm not going to rest until my daughter's untimely demise is properly investigated, which hasn't happened so far," he said in a statement. "Her case deserves more than a superficial glance."

Sharon Murphy has reportedly disputed Bertolotti's paternity claims.

The Hollywood Reporter says Bertolotti was a career criminal for roughly 20 years, spending 12 years in prison for racketeering, involvement in organized crime and counterfeiting.

It also claims Murphy did not have contact with Bertolotti after she married Monjack, and that Bertolotti took legal action to ensure his name appeared on Murphy's death certificate.

Neither Bertolotti nor the Los Angeles Coroner's office immediately responded to requests for comment.

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