Autopsy conducted on Hoffman, answers sought over drug use
Authorities were conducting an autopsy on the body of acclaimed stage and film actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, who was found dead in his Manhattan apartment on Sunday of an apparent drug overdose, an official said today.
Hoffman, considered by many to be one of the finest actors of his generation, was discovered in the bathroom of his Greenwich Village apartment with a syringe in his arm.
"We're conducting the examination in the cause of the manner of death," said Julia Bolcer, spokeswoman for the New York City Medical Examiner. She added that she was not sure when the results would be available.
One big question in the 46-year-old actor's sudden death: why a talented man at a seemingly good point in his career apparently returned to the drugs that had plagued him in his youth.
New York City police sources familiar with the investigation said 50 small bags of what appeared to be heroin were found in Hoffman's apartment. Authorities found other drugs, including a medication for high blood pressure that is also used for treating opiate withdrawal, the sources said.
Police were trying to determine the source of the substance that apparently killed Hoffman and whether it was a deadly strain of heroin laced with fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opiate more potent than morphine, sources said.
Erin Mulvey, a spokeswoman for the New York office of the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), confirmed there has been "a rash of heroin ODs in the Northeast" recently tied to the strain.
The autopsy could explain how Hoffman apparently died soon after injecting what seemed to be heroin. But the why was another matter.
Although Hoffman was believed to have been sober for more than 20 years, Larissa Mooney, a physician and psychiatry professor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said addiction is a chronic brain disease.
"People, places and things that remind somebody of using can take a powerful hold and lead users to relapse even after treatment," Mooney said.
Tributes to Hoffman continued pouring in. Marquees of Broadway theaters in New York will be dimmed on Wednesday night for one minute in memory of the actor.
"He was a fixture in the neighborhood. It's heartbreaking," said a tearful Tara Driver, an art education student who lived near Hoffman's home in the West Village, part of Greenwich Village.