Warning: this post includes mentions of addiction, depression, and suicide.
1. Brittany Murphy
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.
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'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.
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.
2. Richey Edwards
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.
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.
3. Natalie Wood
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.
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.
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."
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.'"