Famous Deaths That Were Never Investigated
Deaths that were never investigated almost always involve mysterious circumstances, multiple theories, a lack of motive, and conspiracies. Many people involved in the entertainment industry died randomly of bizarre causes or took their own lives despite having the world at their feet - and some had a lot of enemies.
While some of these uninvestigated deaths are well-known, others have been confined to the Hollywood history books. There was the two-time Oscar nominee who was shot down during World War II, and whose records are still classified. There was also the actor who made dozens of films and was found dead of a suicide - despite being tied up and drawn all over. Yet another death not investigated was the rock star on the rise who was believed to have killed himself, except he'd been beaten up first.
Here are some deaths whose causes have never satisfactorily been investigated or who had investigations reopened only to find nothing new.
- Photo: Rob Chandler / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.0
Murphy died in December 2009 of what the Los Angeles County Coroner's office determined was heart failure brought on by pneumonia. A number of conspiracy theories sprouted up in the wake of her death, blaming it on everything from toxic mold to a Homeland Security hit. But four years later, a laboratory analysis requested by her father showed signs of heavy metal poisoning, and he sued the County to reopen the investigation. They never did.
In June 2016, author Bryn Curt James published A Case For Murder: Brittany Murphy Files. In the wake of the book's publication, several people who worked with Murphy attested to her poor health in the weeks before her death, a refutation of James's thesis. The case remains one of the biggest mysteries in recent Hollywood history.
- Age: Dec. at 32 (1977-2009)
- Birthplace: Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America
- Photo: Hannu Lindroos / Lehtikuva / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
The final day in the life of Jimi Hendrix was so shrouded in mystery and inconsistency that it spawned decades of alternative theories.
The autopsy showed that he died of vomit inhalation due to an overdose of various drugs, but his companion the day he died in London gave numerous versions of what happened when she found him that morning, several of which directly contradicted each other.
- Age: Dec. at 27 (1942-1970)
- Birthplace: Seattle, Washington, United States of America
- Photo: Andre Luis / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0
Walker's death in a one-car crash in 2013 was immediately determined to be an accident caused by out of control speeding, with no drugs or alcohol involved. But as with many other celebrity deaths, a conspiracy theory that Walker was murdered soon arose - an act related to aid money meant to go to the Philippines.
This theory wasn't taken seriously by police and was never investigated.
- Age: Dec. at 40 (1973-2013)
- Birthplace: Glendale, California, United States of America
- Photo: Orlando Fernandez / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
The great playwright died in New York City in 1983 under circumstances so strange that it took multiple examinations to figure out what happened - and even now, the sequence of events that led to his death has gaps. Williams died in February of that year, having choked on the plastic cap from a bottle of eye drops that he'd put in his mouth for some reason.
The initial determination for the death was natural causes, but this verdict was changed when the bottle cap was found in his larynx. Chemical testing was done on the body, and it took months for an amended coroner's report to be released; said report revealed the presence of barbiturates in Williams's system.
- Age: Dec. at 71 (1911-1983)
- Birthplace: Columbus, Mississippi, United States of America
- Photo: Photofest / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Best known for playing Ashley in Gone with the Wind, English actor Howard was a two-time Academy Award nominee for Best Actor. In 1943, Howard was on a flight from Lisbon, Portugal, back to the UK that was shot down by a flight of German bombers over the Bay of Biscay.
While the flight was a known civilian plane flying over undisputed water, the German planes went out of their normal operating path to shoot it down - leading to theories that Howard was targeted as a high-profile passenger whose death would demoralize England. Another theory held that German intelligence believed Winston Churchill himself was on the flight because Howard's manager was with Howard and the two men looked similar. Other theories state that British intelligence cracked a German plan to shoot down Howard's plane thinking it was Churchill's and allowed the flight to go ahead for fear the Germans would discover their codes had been broken.
With the war raging, it was impossible to conduct a thorough investigation of the attack. As Foreign Office files related to Howard's death are still classified, it's fallen to journalists to try to piece together what happened.
- Age: Dec. at 50 (1893-1943)
- Birthplace: Forest Hill, London, London, United Kingdom
- Photo: Unknown / Wikimedia Commons / Public Domain
Television's original Superman, George Reeves had fallen on hard times after the show ended and was having financial and career difficulties. In 1959, after a drunken argument with friends, including his fiancée, Reeves went upstairs in his house and shot himself in the head. The death was quickly ruled a suicide, but a number of circumstantial details led to a conspiracy theory: that Reeves was murdered by one of his houseguests.
The LAPD claimed the gun was too thickly oiled to find fingerprints, and gunshot residue testing wasn't typically done then. Beyond that, Reeves's mother refused to believe that her son killed himself, and many of the people in Reeves's orbit believed that he'd been killed by an ex-girlfriend named Toni Mannix, the wife of an MGM big shot. None of these theories were seriously investigated, and Reeves's death has officially remained a suicide.
- Age: Died at 45 (1914-1959)
- Birthplace: Woolstock, Iowa, United States of America