Stars sometimes get to write their own obituaries. That is, there always is a vested interest among multiple living parties to control the post-mortem legacy of the star. And since there is a great deal of money at stake, and how an artist is remembered is so vital to the enterprise. Sometimes the public — even in this age of transparency — may find out only much later what actually killed a celebrity. Forensic pathology is not always exact — and there are the aforementioned pressures. For example, drugs found can’t be hidden, but their part in the cause of death can be de-emphasized. Consider the 2009 death of actress Brittany Murphy. The original report claimed that “multiple drug intoxication, pneumonia and iron deficiency anemia” were the cause(s). What really killed Murphy is still being debated.
The late pop star Prince’s autopsy (PRINCE ROGERS NELSON DEATH INVESTIGATION 0900) is being performed by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office in Ramsey, Minnesota. A part of the Anoka County government, the MMEO meets the highest standards of the profession. Dr. A. Quinn Strobl — a graduate of Penn State and the University of Pittsburgh Medical School, is the Chief Medical Examiner for the Midwest Medical Examiner’s office. Dr. Strobl is board certified in anatomic, clinical, and forensic pathology. She is a protege of the influential forensic pathologist Dr. Janis Amatuzio, who wrote the book Forever Ours: Real Stories of Immortality and Living from a Forensic Pathologist. The autopsy of Prince’s body began at 9am on Friday, April 22. The full results could take weeks to report.