Police Probe Death of Actress Brittany Murphy

Brother of the actress says family is devastated by her death at age 32.

December 21, 2009, 2:21 PM

Dec. 21, 2009— -- Brittany Murphy's autopsy has been concluded as of 5 p.m. ET Monday, Chief Coroner Ed Winter told ABC News.com. Winter said it will be four to six weeks before laboratory results are in and the official cause of death can be determined.

Winter confirmed that several legal prescription medications – all made out to Murphy – were recovered from her apartment and taken in as evidence.

"No foul play is suspected," Winter said. He told the Associated Press that the cause of death "appears to be natural."

The 32-year-old actress once considered a rising star in Hollywood died Sunday, after suffering cardiac arrest at her home. The star of "Clueless" and "8 Mile" was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and pronounced dead on arrival at 10:04 a.m.

The Los Angeles Police Department has launched an investigation into Murphy's death, LAPD spokeswoman Norma Eiseman said. Officers from the robbery and homicide division were called in, as they are in most high profile cases, to go to Murphy's home and Cedars-Sinai Hospital.

Through the day, Murphy's friends and family, including Murphy's sister, arrived at the house on Rising Glen Road in the hills above the Sunset Strip, where the actress lived with her husband, British screen-writer Simon Monjack.

Nicole Perna, Murphy's publicist, said in a statement Sunday night, "In this time of sadness, the family thanks everyone for their love and support. It is their wish that you respect their privacy."

Jeff Bertolotti, Murphy's half brother by father Angelo Bertolotti, said the family is devastated by the news.

"I haven't seen my little sis for eight years or so now due to family issues and Hollywood politics, but never have I lost my heart for that sweet little child," Jeff Bertolotti said in an e-mail to ABCNews.com. "I knew the decisions made in reference to severing ties with this side of the family were done on her behalf out of her mother's love. I'm just so sorry myself, my brother Tony, and my baby sister Pia got caught in the crossfire. A lot of love may have been cultivated, but who knew we would not get the chance to catch up down the road?

"As for me, I'm torn up inside beyond belief," he continued. "It's just not natural for a man of 54 to see his kid sister of 32 leave in such an abrupt manner as this. The loss is just unbearable to us all....I never thought in a million years she would cross the bridge before me, it just shouldn't be that way. It's just not the way we expect things to go and the disappointment and pain of this rude awakening is very hard to ingest."

Bertolotti said Murphy's recent work showed that she found her "true voice."

"The work was genuine and authentic," he said. "She made the jump from celebrity to artist, and my hats off to her for that. Britt's blood line is filled with the gift and passion of art, and thanks to her and her mother Sharon, many generations of this gift got a chance to be witnessed through Brittany.

"This kid really was a joy, and I hope the people who God entrusted her to did all the right things with her. Because God has no sense of humor when it comes to His Joyful children, and Britt was a joy-filled spirit. I woke up today after a horrible night of trying to sleep and the planet just looked a little less attractive without her in it."

Brittany Murphy Has Died at 32

The Los Angeles Fire Department said it received a 911 call at around 8 a.m. from Murphy's home.

"We responded to an emergency call," LAFD spokesman Devin Gales told ABC News. We transported one patient from that location to a local hospital."

Neighbor Clare Staples told the Associated Press that she saw firefighters working to resuscitate the actress, who was on a stretcher. Murphy's husband, wearing pajama bottoms and no shoes, appeared"dazed" as firefighters tried to save her, Staples said. "It's just tragic," she added.

"They were trying to resuscitate her all the way down to the fire truck, and then they had her by the fire truck and they were obviously trying to put tubes down her throat and resuscitate her, and I think she was obviously dead at that time," Staples told KABC-TV.

Murphy's father, Angelo Bertolotti, told the Associated Press that he learned of his daughter's death from his son, the actress's brother, and was stunned. "She was just an absolute doll since she was born," Bertolotti said from his Branford, Fla., home. "Her personality was always outward. Everybody loved her - people that made movies with her, people on a cruise - they all loved her. She was just a regular gal." He said he hadn't heard much about the circumstances of Murphy's death. Bertolotti divorced her mother when Murphy was young andhadn't seen Murphy in the past few years. "She was just talented," Bertolotti said. "And I loved her very much."

Murphy got her first job in Hollywood at the age of 14, when she starred as Brenda Drexell in the series "Drexel's Class."

She then went on to guest star on television series such as "Blossom" and "Frasier."

One of her most notable roles was in "Clueless," in which she starred opposite Alicia Silverstone as the bubbly, yet naive high school student Tai Frasier eager for a makeover.

She also co-starred with Angelina Jolie in "Girl, Interrupted" and Eminem in "8 Mile."

Most recently she starred in the romantic comedy "Little Black Book" and "Sin City." Lifetime cast her in a TV movie in 2009 where she played the main character in "Tribute."

Murphy also dabbled in music. In 2006, she teamed up with the world-famous DJ Paul Oakenfold. The pair released a single "Faster Kill Pussycat" which became a club hit and hit number one on Billboard's Hot Dance Club Play chart.

Trouble on Set

After her success in "8 Mile," Murphy was cast in her first lead role in the romantic comedy "Just Married," with Ashton Kutcher, to whom she was romantically linked for a brief time.

Kutcher tweeted this morning about Murphy's death: "2day the world lost a little piece of sunshine," Kutcher wrote. "My deepest condolences go out 2 Brittany's family, her husband, & her amazing mother Sharon."

Her box office success was often marred by rumors about her wacky behavior on set.

In February of 2008, The New York Post reported she was making outrageous demands while acting "like a diva" on the set of "Across the Hall."

One witness said, "She's extremely difficult. When she gets to the set, it comes to a grinding halt. She's so hot and cold, you never know."

It was also reported that her husband Monjack would lurk around the set and intervene so much that producers had to call a meeting to discuss how to deal with him.

Just last month Murphy was reportedly fired from a movie she was working on in Puerto Rico. Perez Hilton reported that the actress "apparently ... has a habit of being difficult on the set," and claimed that Monjack allegedly got involved in a fight "with some locals."

Murphy's spokesperson denied reports the actress was fired from "The Caller," saying instead that she left the movie over "creative differences."

"The allegations currently circulating on the Internet about Brittany Murphy and her husband Simon Monjack read like a fictional plot from one of the 50 plus movies Ms. Murphy has successfully completed without incident," her representative told World Entertainment News Network. "She was not nor has she ever been fired from any job big or small. Mr. Monjack did not engage in any alleged scuffles. Though due to creative differences Ms. Murphy and the production mutually parted ways."

Brittany Murphy's Husband in Recent Headlines

Murphy's husband Monjack was rushed to a Los Angeles hospital on Nov. 29 after his plane landed. Murphy reportedly didn't think it was serious enough for Monjack to go to the hospital, but the fire department disagreed. According to TMZ, Monjack was incoherent when EMTs boarded the plane.

Despite what happened behind the scenes of her films, her colleagues respected her talent.

Director Edward Burns once told the Los Angeles Times, "She's one of those talents that is a real chameleon. She was able to be vulnerable without playing the victim -- I don't know how you do that, but she does..."

In what was probably her final public event on December 3, Brittany Murphy walked the red carpet, looking thin but gushing about her family and looking forward to the new year.

According to "Access Hollywood," the actress, attending a boutique opening in Los Angeles said she was looking forward to 2010. "As far as having a New Year's resolution, I'd love to have a child next year," she said. "But that's kind of a large one!"

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