June 6, 2009 / 6:19 PM / 10 years ago

Carradine mystery deepens, family seeks FBI help

BANGKOK/LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - The family of David Carradine has asked U.S. authorities to help unravel the mystery of his death, amid conflicting reports about how his body was found hanging naked in a Bangkok hotel.

Actor David Carradine poses at the 60th Annual Directors Guild of America Awards in Century City, California, in this file image from January 26, 2008. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni/Files

Mark Geragos, a Los Angeles attorney who represented Carradine’s brother, the actor Keith Carradine, said on Saturday the family has contacted the Federal Bureau of Investigation and filed a formal request to have the FBI contact authorities in Thailand for further information.

“They’ve done it because of the conflicting reports and the nature of those reports that have given the family great pause,” Geragos told Reuters.

Speculation about the death of Carradine, 72, who starred in the 1970s-era U.S. television show “Kung Fu” and the more recent “Kill Bill” movies, has deepened since his body was discovered on Thursday by a maid in the Bangkok hotel suite where he was staying while filming the movie “Stretch.”

With coroners awaiting results of toxicology tests, Thai media pointed to suicide or accidental autoerotic asphyxiation as possible causes of death. Some reports have said a cord was wrapped around Carradine’s genitals and others that his hands were bound behind his back. None could be confirmed.

Geragos said Carradine’s family had no more information than what had been written and said in the media, which was why they were seeking the FBI’s help.

“I wish for them, and their sake, that they did (have more information), but it’s the opposite,” Geragos said. “They are getting reports that both seem conflicting and evolving.”

Geragos said Thai authorities must invite the FBI into the investigation, and he did not know how long that might take.


In Bangkok, police said it could take several weeks for coroners to confirm exactly how Carradine died.

“What we’re doing right now is interviewing more witnesses,” Police Colonel Somprasong Yentuam told Reuters.

“It should take roughly three weeks for the blood test result, then we can wrap this case up.” Somprasong said he believed the likely cause of death was asphyxiation.

Thai television said Carradine’s body was flown back to Los Angeles early Saturday, which Geragos confirmed.

A maid found Carradine hanging in the closet of his hotel suite at Bangkok’s Swissotel Nai Lert Park hotel. Initial reports indicated a possible suicide, but family representatives have repeatedly denied that possibility.

Family representatives have declined to comment on possible autoerotic asphyxiation, which involves intentionally cutting off oxygen supply for strong sexual arousal.

Thai investigators have said there was no indication that other people had been in the room where Carradine was staying.

Carradine, the son of the late character actor John Carradine, enjoyed a long career on Broadway, TV and in films. But he was most famous for his role in “Kung Fu,” playing Caine, a martial arts specialist who wandered through the American Old West seeking wisdom and beating up bad guys.

Additional reporting by Bob Tourtellotte in Los Angeles; Writing by Martin Petty; Editing by Patricia Zengerle

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