March 20, 2007 -- A DNA test was ordered by a Bahamian court judge on Tuesday to determine who is the real father of Anna Nicole Smith's infant daughter, Dannielynn.
Virgie Arthur, the late Playboy playmate's mother, confirmed to ABC News that a test was ordered in a closed court hearing on the Bahamian island of Nassau, though she declined further comment on the day's proceedings.
Larry Birkhead, the man many believe to be the father of the 6-month-old baby, was jubilant as he emerged from the courthouse.
"I feel great,'' he said, adding, "it's been a good day in court for me.''
Howard K. Stern, who is listed as the father of the child on her Bahamian birth certificate, also declined to comment after court.
It remains unclear whether he will comply with the order. Should he challenge the order, the paternity mystery could drag on for another month or more. But if he complies and allows the baby's DNA to be tested, the vexing question of who fathered Smith's baby daughter will finally be answered.
The paternity test is one of a series of legal battles regarding the untimely death last month of Anna Nicole Smith.
There's also the custody fight. Smith's mother Virgie Arthur was in a Bahamian court last week trying to wring custody of the baby away from Stern, whom she says is an unfit father, if a father at all.
And while Bahamian and Florida police have both insisted that their ongoing probe into Smith's death is not a murder investigation, new evidence they turned up was enough to delay a Florida medical examiner from announcing his findings last week. Bahamian police met with Florida investigators last week at the hotel where Smith died.
And finally, there is the inquest into Smith's son Daniel's death, which begins next week.
Oh, and the Bahamian court battle over Horizons, the Nassau home that Stern is fighting to keep, amid claims he failed to pay back a loan made to Smith for the house.
Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, declined to comment as she left a Bahamian courtroom last Friday, and her attorney could not be reached for comment. But she's made clear her intentions to gain custody of the child, claiming that Stern is unfit to care for the child and that she could provide a more stable home environment for her granddaughter. Arthur wants to take the child back to Texas. A gag order has prevented the previously chatty litigants from speaking to the press in recent days. Arthur has allied herself with Birkhead in previous court fights, though it's unclear whether Birkhead would share custody with the baby's grandmother should he be declared the baby's biological father.
The Death Investigation
The investigation into Smith's death remains ongoing. Broward County Medical Examiner Joshua Perper said last week that he was delaying the announcement of his determination of the cause of Smith's death by up to two weeks at the request of Florida police. Seminole Police Capt. Robert McDaniel told the Herald that the delay in Perper's announcement was not because two new pieces of evidence would change his findings, but because they would "reinforce" his ruling. Perper's initial autopsy indicated no foul play, and he said no illegal drugs were found in Smith's system.
Next Monday, an inquest, or hearing, begins into the death of Daniel Smith, Anna Nicole's son. He died in a Bahamian hospital room from an apparently accidental overdose of methadone and two prescription drugs Zoloft and Lexapro that, when combined with methadone, can be deadly. The chief magistrate overseeing that inquest has said that Smith's mysterious death, just five months after her 20-year-old son's equally suspicious death, has increased interest in Howard K. Stern -- who was present or nearby when both mother and son became ill and died.
Smith's death "caused us to lose the weight of her evidence, but at the same time, it has also increased the interest in [Daniel's] inquest because of the way in which she died," Bahamian chief magistrate Roger Gomez told wire service United Press International. He said the court will "look with interest at the cause of [Smith's] death as well."
Gomez said that Stern's testimony would be critical because "he would have been the only other person present at the time." Dozens of witnesses are expected to testify at the inquest next week.
Meanwhile, Stern is holed up at a Bahamian home called Horizons, with Dannielynn. The original owner of the house, G. Ben Thompson -- another of Smith's former boyfriends -- claims he loaned $900,000 to Smith for the purchase of the home but that she and Stern reneged on the deal and never repaid the loan. Stern has claimed the home was a gift. Stern has accused Thompson of looting the home after Smith's death and stealing personal items -- including Smith's computers and personal files. Thompson claims that he owns the home. The locks on the house have repeatedly been changed by both parties. A hearing on who owns the house has been scheduled for April.