Brittany Murphy was one of Hollywood's brightest rising stars before her death in 2009 at the age of 32 due to pneumonia. While plenty of conjecture has been made about her shocking end and the surprising death of husband Simon Monjack just months later, Dr. Cyril Wecht doesn't find the case so "puzzling" after all. Ahead of Tuesday's premiere of Brittany Murphy: An ID Mystery, the famed forensic pathologist talked to PopCulture.com about some of the red flags in the young star's death that has him wondering what was going on in Murphy and Monjack's home before their deaths.
"The questions I had were: How could an intelligent, educated, young adult in a house living with her husband and her mother — how could she have died so suddenly from pneumonia and not have sought medical care?" he asked. With tests ruling out toxic fungus and drug use as a cause of death, Wecht accepts that Murphy's death was the result of untreated pneumonia and "very significant iron deficiency anemia."
Despite the hair test results presented to him by Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, in 2013 showing the presence of 10 heavy metals in the Uptown Girls actress' body, including antimony and barium, Wecht told PopCulture he finds it "very hard to believe" someone deliberately poisoned Murphy, questioning why someone with the access to both the actress' food and the toxic metals would choose to operate in such a "diabolical fashion" when one or two of the metals would prove adequate for poisoning. That, plus the lack of a segmental analysis of the hair, which would provide a timeline as to when Murphy had ingested the metals, leaves Wecht finding it "really hard to believe that this was an intentional poisoning."
"This is someone who for some reason was not taking care of herself," he continued. "She apparently was not well. ... It's not the kind of pneumonia that occurs rapidly." As for Monjack's death, which was also attributed to acute pneumonia and severe anemia, Wecht noted that he had "serious advanced heart disease" that would have compromised his health. "He was a very sick guy," he noted.
For any more clarity on the circumstances behind the deaths of the Hollywood couple, Wecht criticized the Los Angeles County Coroner's Office for not conducting tissue studies and acquiring more hair for a segmental analysis to allow for a timeline as to when the heavy metals were ingested. With some of those substances existing in rodenticides and insecticides, as well as hair dyes, Wecht suggested an easy control of people with regularly dyed hair in the area as an example of measures that could confirm or rule out the source of said metals.
"It's not as though [Murphy's] death is a mystery, it's how did she develop [pneumonia and severe anemia]?" Wecht asked. "What kind of life were they leading? ...Those are the mysteries." For more insight into the tragic death of one of Hollywood's rising stars, Brittany Murphy: An ID Mystery airs Tuesday at 9 p.m. ET only on Investigation Discovery. This special is a part of ID Presents: Nine at 9, with new premieres running nightly at 9 p.m. ET on Investigation Discovery.