Heath Ledger autopsy results due in 10-14 days

Wed Jan 23, 2008 5:42pm EST
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By Daniel Trotta

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The sudden death of film star Heath Ledger stunned fans and family from Hollywood to Australia on Wednesday as New York City's medical examiner conducted an autopsy that proved inconclusive.

Ledger, a 28-year-old Australian, was found on Tuesday face down and naked beneath the covers of his bed with sleeping pills and other prescription medication nearby, police said.

"The autopsy was finished and the cause of death for Mr. Ledger will be pending further study," said Ellen Borakove, spokeswoman for the medical examiner.

She said results would be released in 10 to 14 days, after tissue and toxicology tests.

Police said the death may have been accidental. There were sleeping and anti-anxiety pills by the bed but no illegal drugs in the apartment, no suicide note and no evidence of foul play, spokesman Paul Browne said.

A rolled up $20 bill was found but there was no visible residue that it was used to snort drugs, Browne said. Brown previously said Ledger was found on the floor but that he was actually moved from the bed to the floor by paramedics.

Ledger was best known for playing a gay cowboy in 2005's "Brokeback Mountain," for which he received an Oscar nomination. He had completed filming his role as The Joker in "The Dark Knight," a Batman film due out this year.

Ledger's family in Perth, Australia, called his death a tragic accident and appealed for privacy to let them grieve.   Continued...

<p>Australian actor Heath Ledger poses during a photocall to present his film 'Candy' in the competition at the 56th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin in this February 15, 2006 file photo. Ledger was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on January 22, 2008, possibly of a drug overdose, New York City police said. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/Files</p>