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An awful lot of Jacko

By | Published on Monday 29 June 2009

OK, where the hell to start with all the Michael Jackson stories that have surfaced since Friday lunchtime? Well, how about the drugs and the missing doctor who’s not missing?

As reported on Friday, within hours of Jackson dying from a cardiac arrest at his LA home on Thursday afternoon, a legal representative of the singer’s family told CNN he believed that the singer had been using excessive amounts of prescription drugs in order to make himself fit for his upcoming 50 night residency in London, and that he believed those drugs may well have caused Jacko’s death. The lawyer added: “I do not know what medications he was taking, but the reports that we have received within the family are that they were extensive. I can tell you for sure that this is something I warned about”.

Those comments were followed by reports that one of the drugs Jackson had been routinely taking was Demerol, a sort of morphine alternative (though generally safer and less addictive), and rumour had it the singer had received a shot of the medication shortly before his death. That led to speculation that Jacko’s private physician, Dr Conrad Murray, may have given the singer too strong a dosage, leading to a heart attack and the subsequent cardiac arrest. That version of events was taken up by an increasing number of media amid other reports that both the Jackson family and police were keen to speak with Murray, but that the doc had gone AWOL.

While some news media reported of a dramatic sounding police search for the medic, in the end he wasn’t quite so absent without leave as some were suggesting – in fact I think he’d just gone home but no one had thought to call by there. He was formally interviewed by LAPD officers this weekend, and subsequently told he was free to go. Murray’s lawyer told reporters that his client had been told there would be “no need for further questioning”, but added that the doctor intended to stay in LA so he would be on hand if there was any other way he could help with the police’s investigation. Attorney Edward Chernoff added that Murray had in no way contributed to Jackson’s cardiac arrest, while also denying the aforementioned Dermerol rumours.

The initial autopsy by LA authorities also concluded there was nothing suspicious about Jackson’s premature death, and certainly that there had been no foul play. However, as always, crucial toxicology tests will take six to eight weeks to complete, so no final conclusion will be reached on the singer’s exact cause of death for some time.

His body was subsequently released to the Jackson family, who are rumoured to be considering commissioning their own autopsy. After that, the Jackson clan will have to decide how they want to send off their departed son and brother, before concerning themselves with the tricky matter of his estate.