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Brittany Murphy And Six Other Celebs Whose Deaths Are Still Bafflingly Unexplained

If you thought they were too famous for this to happen, you'd be wrong.

Warning: this post includes mentions of addiction, depression, and suicide.

1. Brittany Murphy

Murphy at a premiere

WHAT HAPPENED: The 32-year-old star was sick with pneumonia (to the point where her lips were blue and she was gasping for air) when she collapsed in the bathroom of her three-level Mediterranean home in the Hollywood Hills. Fire fighters attempted to resuscitate her before she was transported to the Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. At 10:04 a.m., two hours after the initial 911 call, Murphy died at the hospital from cardiac arrest.

Murphy's home where she died

HERE'S WHY IT IS SO MYSTERIOUS: Murphy's husband Simon Monjack raised suspicions by initially refusing an autopsy to understand exactly what happened to his wife. He cited religious reasons, but also told Larry King, "This pristine body that was curvy in all the right places with skin like silk. How could I say in front of her mother, 'cut her up?'" What happened next only confused things further. Shockingly, just five months later, a 40-year-old Monjack died in the same bedroom of eerily similar causes: pneumonia and anemia. He, like Murphy, also had an elevated level of prescription drugs in his system.

Murphy with husband monjack

Murphy's mother fought back against the allegations in an open letter to The Hollywood Reporter. First, she refuted the findings of the independent toxicology report, writing,"This report conveniently ignores what any good scientist will tell you: A hair sample can be affected by many outside factors, including hair dye, hair spray, prescription medications, foods, smoking the occasional cigarette and environmental factors." She also asked why, if Murphy was poisoned, the original autopsy report found no trace of it.

Murphy's mother with monjack

An HBO documentary What Happened to Brittany Murphy? took a deep dive into Murphy's life and the mysterious circumstances of her death. Here's the trailer.

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2. Richey Edwards

Edwards onstage with a guitar

WHAT HAPPENED: Just one day before he was scheduled to fly to the United States to go on a promotional tour for The Holy Bible, the 27-year-old Edwards went missing. There were sightings of him over the next two weeks — by a fan in Newport and a taxi driver who claimed to have driven an erratically-behaving Edwards to Bristol — but then the trail went cold. Edwards' car was later discovered near the Severn Bridge, a known suicide spot, leading many to believe he jumped off the bridge.

Edwards sister holds up a missing person sign of her brother

HERE'S WHY IT IS SO MYSTERIOUS: Since Edwards' disappearance, a number of people have claimed to have seen him in far-flung places around the globe. In 1996, two years after his disappearance, a college lecturer named Vyvyan Morris says she crossed paths with Edwards in Goa, India, where he was going by the name Rick. And then, in 1998, people at an underground club in The Canary Islands claimed to have also spotted Edwards. When they asked him if he was Richey Edwards, he allegedly raced out the door.

The manic street preachers in london

3. Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood playing Maria in 1961's Westside Story

WHAT HAPPENED: On Nov. 28, 1981, the 43-year-old Wood went on a weekend boating trip to Catalina Island with her husband actor Robert Wagner, co-star Christopher Walken, and ship captain Dennis Davern. That night at 11:05 p.m., the other passengers realized Wood was no longer on the yacht. The yacht’s dinghy was missing too.

Wood with husband Wagner

At 8 a.m. the next morning, Wood’s body was found a mile away from the yacht in an isolated cove. The dinghy was beached nearby. An investigation by the Los Angeles County coroner, Thomas Noguchi, determined that Wood died by accidental drowning and hypothermia. Noguchi theorized that Wood, who had been drinking, fell into the water while attempting to get back into the dinghy.

Thee dinghy in question in the water near catalina

HERE'S WHY IT IS SO MYSTERIOUS: For starters, Wood's sister Lana refuted the coroner's conjecture, saying that Wood was petrified of water and never would have tried to get back in the dinghy by herself at night. Not only that, but there were bruises on Wood's body that suggested she had been thrown off a boat according to Dr. Michael Franco, an intern at the coroner's office at the time. Franco says he brought his concerns about Wood's bruises to Noguchi who indicated to him that "some things are best left unsaid."

Splendour, the boat owned by Wagner and Wood, docked off Catalina Island the day after the death

Most concerning, though, were statements that Lana Wood alleges the boat captain Dennis Davern made to her on a drunken phone call. According to Lana Wood, Davern said that after the star couple quarreled "it appeared to him as though RJ (Robert Wagner) shoved her away and she went overboard. Dennis panicked and RJ said, ‘Leave her there. Teach her a lesson.’" Wood added that Davern didn't think Wagner intender for her sister to drown, "but he didn’t run to her aid.”

Much later, in 2011, Davern went public with his version of the events, revealing that he'd initially lied to investigators, but believed that Wagner was responsible for her death. He added, "We didn't take any steps to see if we could locate her. I think it was a matter of, 'We're not going to look too hard, we're not going to turn on the searchlight, we're not going to notify anybody right now.'"

Davern's comments played a role in the Sheriff's Department reopening the case in 2011 and the coroner's department amending Wood's death certificate in 2013, changing the cause of death from "accidental drowning" to "drowning and other undetermined factors." Then, in February, 2018, L.A. county Sheriff investigators held a press conference to announce Wagner was now a person of interest in the case. As of February, 2022, however, there have been no further updates from law enforcement.

Investigators speak at a press conference in 2018

In 2020, Wood's daughter Natasha Gregson Wagner produced a documentary about her mother and her death entitled Natalie Wood: What Remains Behind. In it, she confronts Wagner on camera and asks him if he was responsible for her mother's death. He says he's not, and she says she believes him.

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4. Thelma Todd

A glam shot of Todd

WHAT HAPPENED: Todd was just 29, and at the height of her fame, when she was found in her garage by her maid. The movie star was dead behind the wheel of her 1934 Lincoln Phaeton convertible, wearing a high-priced evening gown, mink coat, and expensive jewelry.

Investigators carry todd's body out of the garage

HERE'S WHY IT IS SO MYSTERIOUS: Thelma had a lot of people who might've wanted her dead, including the notorious and ruthless mobster Lucky Luciano, with whom she had an affair. Luciano was abusive to her and had a motive — he wanted to take control of her Hollywood roadhouse and use it as an illegal gambling den.

With the marx brothers in horse feathers

5. Brian Jones

Jones playing guitar on stage

WHAT HAPPENED: Around midnight on July 2, 1969, Jones' body was discovered at the bottom of the swimming pool at his estate in East Sussex. The 27-year-old was pulled from the pool and had CPR performed on him, but was pronounced dead upon arriving at the hospital.

Jones' home and the pool he was found in

HERE'S WHY IT IS SO MYSTERIOUS: Jones' daughter, Barbara Marion, contends that her father may have been murdered, and believes that his death was never properly investigated by the authorities. Rumors have alleged for years that Frank Thorogood — a builder working on Jones' house who was the last person to see Jones alive — may have killed him after a dispute over money.

Jones with the rest of the stones in 1966

A documentary now streaming entitled Rolling Stone: Life and Death of Brian Jones digs deeper into Jones' story. Here's the trailer.

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Chip Baker Films

6. Divya Bharti

Bharti in Deewana

WHAT HAPPENED: On April 5, 1993, the young star was enjoying an evening socializing with her husband and friends when she fell off the balcony of her fifth-floor Mumbai apartment. She was rushed to the hospital — and reported to still be alive upon arrival — but soon succumbed to her head injuries.

Bharti in Deewana

WHY IT'S SO MYSTERIOUS: Speculation about what exactly happened to Bharti has continued to grow over the years, with all kinds of conspiracy theories.

Bharti singing in a red dress with hoop earrings

7. Tupac Shakur and Christopher Wallace, aka The Notorious B.I.G.

Tupac and Biggie performing together in 1993 when still friends

WHAT HAPPENED: On Sept. 7, 1996, Tupac Shakur and Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight attended the Mike Tyson vs. Bruce Seldon heavyweight fight in Las Vegas. Afterward, Shakur punched Orlando "Baby Lane" Anderson of Los Angeles' Southside Crips gang, an enemy of some of Knight's associates. Later that evening, Shakur and Knight were driving down Las Vegas Boulevard when a Cadillac pulled alongside and fired into their car. Knight was injured, but Shakur — who was struck four times — died a week later in the hospital.

Tupac with Death Row Records CEO Suge Knight at the tyson fight

WHY IT'S SO MYSTERIOUS: Despite Shakur and Wallace being massive stars who were gunned down in crowded areas, both murders remain unsolved today. In both cases many of the key witnesses refused to speak, or were killed themselves in subsequent years.

Pallbearers wheel casket containing rap star Biggie Smalls to hearse after funeral 18 March in New York

Anderson wasn't the only rumored killer, however. There was also the alleged theory that Suge Knight ordered the murder after Shakur threatened to leave Death Row Records, as discussed in the book LAbyrinth written by Randall Sullivan. And while Sullivan ultimately believed Anderson is the killer, he didn't discount the possibility of Knight being responsible even if he was hit in the shooting. "The shooter's car pulled up and shot at an angle that could really only hit Tupac," Sullivan told Vice. "No shot really came close to hitting Suge." (Knight was hit by fragments but survived.)

Suge Knight in an orange jump suit on trial for an unrelated vehicular manslaughter charge

Muddling things even further? The often suggested rumor that Shakur died as a result of the East Coast/West Coast rivalry. Greg Kading, a former LAPD detective who researched the case for his book Murder Rap, alleges that Sean "Puffy" Combs ordered the murder. Combs called this allegation "pure fiction and completely ridiculous."

Sean Combs looking to the side in a grey sweater and black Sox hat

The murder of Christopher "Biggie" Wallace, less than five months after Shakur's, is equally mystifying.

Rapper Notorious BIG joined by Sean Puffy Combs and Lil' Kim at the Billboard Music Awards on December 6, 1995