Diabetes Cited in Casey Johnson's Death

Casey Johnson, an heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune AP Images

Socialite Casey Johnson's death was related to her nearly lifelong diabetes, the Los Angeles County coroner said Thursday.

Johnson, 30, an heir to the Johnson & Johnson health care products fortune, died of diabetic ketoacidosis, the coroner said in a terse news release. Diabetic ketoacidosis is a life-threatening condition caused by lack of insulin and sky-high blood sugar.

Death of Heiress Casey Johnson

An autopsy was conducted Jan. 5, a day after Johnson's body was found at her home. The coroner's statement said the autopsy report would be available within two weeks.

"If you have somebody with diabetes, there should be somebody checking up on that person," said Dr. Michael Baden, former chief medical examiner in New York City who has been an expert witness in cases involving the late comedian John Belushi and former pro football star O.J. Simpson.

He said Johnson probably slipped into a diabetic coma, and that people can usually be resuscitated from that in the first 24 hours.

A message left for a family spokesman was not immediately returned.

Johnson, the daughter of New York Jets NFL football team owner Robert "Woody" Johnson, lived a party life. In December, she announced her engagement to bisexual reality TV star Tila Tequila.

Her body was flown east for a private funeral.

Johnson had been an insulin-dependent diabetic since childhood. A memorial fund in her name was set up with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. Her father is chairman of that organization and co-author of the book "Managing Your Child's Diabetes."

Casey Johnson lived in a quiet neighborhood behind big wooden gates marked "Grumblenot," but she often partied with high school friend and fellow heiress Paris Hilton.

Johnson was charged last month with burglary and receiving stolen property for allegedly taking $22,000 in clothing, jewelry and other items from a friend's home. She pleaded not guilty and faced a February hearing.

She is survived by her parents, two younger sisters, and an adopted child she named Ava-Monroe, after her idol, Marilyn Monroe.
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