The Marilyn Tapes
With that conclusion, the investigation slammed shut. But it opened a controversy that lingers to this day. By 1982, there was a public outcry. With allegations of a conspiracy and a cover-up, the Los Angeles District Attorney's Office was forced to re-examine the evidence.
Former Assistant District Attorney Mike Carroll had the daunting task of getting to the bottom of what happened that night. "So the first question is, was there a murder?" says Carroll.
"We looked at the photographs of the death scene," says Carroll. "Looked at autopsy reports. And had to talk to people because there were some areas that we could not really determine without talking to people."
Tape-recorded interviews offered new clues about what happened that night.
Engelberg was queried about the large amount of pills found at her bedside.
Asked if all those pills had been prescribed by him, Dr. Engelberg told investigators, "No. Only one had been prescribed by me ... I was surprised to see at the side of her bed a large number of other sleeping pills."
Marilyn died of a lethal dose of two sedative drugs. The coroner announced that the toxicologist discovered in addition to Nembutal a large dose of Chloral Hydrate in her system.
But there are questions about where the Chloral Hydrate came from. "I knew nothing about any Chloral Hydrate; I never used Chloral Hydrate," Engelberg told investigators, adding that he only wrote her a prescription for Nembutal.
If Marilyn had all those pills by her bedside, why did she call Carmen for more? Carroll says no suicide note was ever found at the scene.
Was the coroner's conclusion of suicide a rush to judgment?
Dr. Steven Karch, is one of the nation's top forensic pathologists. He has written several important textbooks on drug overdose, and he says major holes in Marilyn's toxicology report make it nearly impossible to determine what killed her.
Asked whether it's possible Marilyn was murdered, Katch says, "I don't see how you can rule it out.
"I'm bothered by some of the inconsistencies in the reports," he says. "I'm particularly bothered by where the medicines came from. I don't know that they were hers. I don't know when they were taken, and I don't know what was in her body when she died because the toxicology is incomplete."
Karch also believes the first investigators on the scene were too quick to make assumptions. "The really strange thing is, it says barbiturate overdose death. How did they know it was a barbiturate overdose death at 4:45 in the morning?"
Karch says the first investigators on the scene couldn't have known that.
Former A.D.A. Carroll points to evidence not just at the scene, but in Marilyn's turbulent past. She had overdosed before.
"The bottles were there. She was unconscious. She had a history of overdose. In fact, she had a history of not only overdosing, but of being resuscitated," Carroll explains.
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