http://www.nlaq.com/2007/02/09/late-playmate-anna-nicole-smith-autopsied-amid-drug-claims/ nlaq.com nlaq.com nlaq.com A medical examiner was conducting an autopsy on late Playboy centerfold Anna Nicole Smith, amid speculation the former model and reality TV star may have been abusing drugs. Smith, who fought for years for the estate of the wheelchair-bound, 89-year-old oil billionaire she married when she was 26, died Thursday in the town of Hollywood, Florida. She was 39. Both her sister and mother said they suspected the former model’s death may have been drug-related. “I think she had too many drugs,” her mother Virgie Arthur told the ABC network, adding “just like Danny,” referring to Smith’s son, Daniel, who died at the age of 20 in the Bahamas last year in a drug-related episode. Arthur, who was not believed to be close to her daughter, said the last time she saw Smith was in a television interview. “She was too drugged up… she was so wasted,” Arthur said. Asked in a CNN interview if she thought the death was drug-related, Smith’s younger sister Donna Hogan said: “That would be my first guess.” “I’m not really shocked because of her lifestyle,” an emotional Hogan added. US media reports said that a large amount of prescription drugs had been found in the hotel room where she was discovered by a nurse lying unconscious on Thursday. She was rushed to hospital, where she was pronounced dead. Smith herself told CNN in a interview several years ago that she had abused painkillers and had checked into a rehab. Preliminary results from an autopsy to determine the cause of her death were expected later Friday. Smith was born into poverty but lived a glamorous life, and even her death echoed that of her idol, 1950s Hollywood star Marilyn Monroe. “She wanted to be like Marilyn her whole life and ironically died in a similar manner,” said her former lawyer, Lenard Leeds. US media quoted attorney Ron Rale as saying Smith had still been suffering from depression over the death of her son Daniel. He died just days after Smith gave birth to a girl, whose paternity is now being disputed by a former boyfriend, photographer Larry Birkhead, and her attorney and companion, Howard Stern. The case was due to come up in court in Los Angeles later Friday. Whoever the father is, the five-month-old baby, Dannielynn Hope, inherits her mother’s claim to her late husband’s billions. The medical examiner in charge of the autopsy, Joshua Perper, said establishing the cause of death depended on a number of factors. “Sometimes the findings are very obvious at the time the autopsy is done. Other times the findings are more subtle and require additional microscopic and chemical examinations,” he said. Smith and Stern checked into the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel in Hollywood on Monday, said local police chief Charlie Tiger, adding that the death was not being treated as a suspected suicide but that police were still investigating. Smith was born Vicki Lynn Hogan. She was raised by her mother and aunt after her parents divorced. She first wed at 17 and had her son Daniel, divorcing soon after his birth. After working as a cashier and waiting tables, she started stripping at a Houston nightclub, where she met oil billionaire J. Howard Marshall. The two married in 1994, but 14 months later he died at the age of 90. She spent the next 12 years battling with her stepson E. Pierce Marshall over her late husband’s fortune, a battle still unresolved after numerous court rulings. Smith first came to prominence when she appeared on the cover of Playboy magazine in 1992, being voted Playmate of the Year the following year. She went on to replace Claudia Schiffer as the model for Guess Jeans.