Erica Blasberg’s Death Ruled Suicide by Police and Coroner

Las Vegas, Nevada (August 24, 2010)–The final investigation results into the death of Erica Blasberg have been released, and the coroner and Henderson Police detectives have jointly ruled it a suicide with no foul play suspected. Blasberg was found in her home on May 9 by Dr. Thomas Hess with a plastic bag secured over her head. The coroner found prescription drugs in her system. While no foul play was suspected in the death, an arrest warrant for Dr. Hess has been issued for obstruction of justice. “While asphyxia was the primary cause of death, the presence of prescription drugs in Ms. Blasberg’s system was a significant factor,” Clark County Coroner Michael Murphy said in a statement. “Our thoughts are with her family as they move through this tragedy.”–By Brian Hurlburt.

From the official press release as drafted: "The case was initially complicated when the person who called 9-1-1, Hess, admitted to altering the scene. Because the scene was altered and Hess stopped cooperating with detectives, an investigation was needed to ensure that there was no foul play involved with Ms. Blasberg’s death. Hess admitted to removing a note indicating Ms. Blasberg had taken her own life. He hid it in his vehicle along with prescription medications taken from her house. A warrant charging Hess with obstruction has been approved by a judge. The conclusion to the investigation was delayed as the results of forensic testing took nearly eight weeks to be completed by an outside laboratory."

Many different medications were found in Blasberg's system. According to the statement filed jointly by Henderson Police Department Spokesperson Keith Paul and Clark County Public Information Officer Jennifer Knight, "Toxicology results confirmed the presence of several prescription drugs including headache, cough, pain and anti-anxiety medications. Those drugs included: butalbital, temazepam, alprazolam, codeine, hydrocodone, and tramadol, according to the Coroner’s Office. Nevada law does not permit the coroner to release details on the amount of medication present in a decedent’s system, only the presence."

Blasberg was found at her residence in Henderson, Nevada, a Las Vegas suburb, by Dr. Hess, who placed the 911 call. The 911 was to be made available. Hess, a married man, and Blasberg, 25 and single, formed a friendship, described as inappropriate by those close to Blasberg, when they met at the private Southern Highlands Golf Club where Blasberg routinely practiced. The statement made it unclear whether Dr. Hess had provided any of the medications. Her father, Mel, had continually stated that Hess was a man of interest and that he was not cooperating, and had made no statements to anyone, including the police or the family. He had continued to practice during the investigation.

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