The Cover-Up of Marilyn Monroe’s Death
This article represents Part 4 in a series I’ve written on Marilyn Monroe’s death, culminating in this final piece: “The Cover-Up of Marilyn Monroe’s Death.” My other articles dug into what was going on in the movie star’s life before her death ~ including affairs with both Kennedy brothers. Just prior to her death, both JFK & Bobby Kennedy had cut off communication with Monroe, which infuriated her. In the week before her death, she was engaged in a flurry of activity, making plans for the future & settling into her new home on Fifth Helena. And on the last day of her life: many people came in & out of her house all day, which means there were actually several witnesses who knew what happened that day….
But many of them did not speak about what really happened until years later, if they spoke at all. Before you read this article, be sure you’ve read the first three parts of this story, so you understand who this cast of characters is, & how they were all connected to Marilyn.
The Cover-Up of Marilyn Monroe’s Death
- During the night & early morning hours of Sunday, August 5th, 1962, neighbors of Marilyn Monroe heard strange sounds in the night: shouting, broken glass, even a helicopter whirring overhead. (Note: Peter Lawford’s neighbor also heard a helicopter early in the morning on August 5th, & it actually blew dust & leaves into his pool.) Some neighbors reported hearing a hysterical woman yelling, “Murderers! You murderers! Are you satisfied now that she’s dead?!” Mr. & Mrs. Abe Landau, Marilyn’s neighbors directly to the west, arrived home late Saturday night, & saw an ambulance & police car parked outside of Marilyn’s house.
- Sergeant Jack Clemmons is the first officer on the scene of Marilyn’s death. He took the police call at 4:25AM; Dr. Hyman Engelberg, Marilyn’s physician, stated: “Marilyn Monroe has died. She’s committed suicide.” When Clemmons arrived at Marilyn’s house, he met Dr. Engelberg, Dr. Greenson, & Eunice Murray ~ who was doing the laundry, which he found odd. The “original” story was that Murray had woken up around midnight to use the restroom, & saw the light still on in Marilyn’s room, which concerned her. So she called Dr. Greenson to come over, & he said he broke into Marilyn’s locked bedroom by breaking in her window. This story was debunked almost immediately by Clemmons for two reasons: 1) Mrs. Murray’s bathroom was inside her room, meaning she wouldn’t have passed Marilyn’s door to reach the restroom, & 2) Clemmons asked why, if Monroe was found dead at 12:30AM ~ why on earth had they waited to call the police until 4:25AM? Evasive in their responses, Engelberg said, “We were just talking.” In short: the whole thing sounded like complete BULLSHIT to Sergeant Clemmons.
- As Clemmons continued his investigation, he noted that there was no drinking glass found in Monroe’s locked bedroom. This fact is HIGHLY significant. IF Marilyn Monroe had committed suicide, & was found in a LOCKED room, & the autopsy later confirmed that she had to have consumed no less than 50 pills (of Nembutal & chloral hydrate) ~ how on earth does someone do that without a glass of water??! And moreover, in previous cases where Monroe had tried to commit suicide, when found, there were still pills in her mouth along with vomit. In this case though, Clemmons found Marilyn lying face-down in a “soldier’s position,” with her head neatly to the side. No vomit. No pills or residue in her mouth. If she had consumed more than 50+ pills on her own: where is the evidence of this??
Even twenty-five years later, Sergeant Clemmons maintains: “It was the most obvious murder I ever saw. Everything was staged.”
- Guy Hockett, owner of Westwood Village Mortuary, receives a pre-dawn call to pick up Monroe’s body. Guy & his son, Don, arrive at Fifth Helena at 5:45AM, & have difficulties getting through the crowd of reporters already clogging the street. Note: The fact that a mortuary was called BEFORE the coroner is highly irregular. To this day, no one knows who made this call. But typical procedure, for any suspicious death, including suicide: is for the coroner to inspect the body first, prior to any embalming or mortuary services.
- More police officers arrive on the scene after Sergeant Clemmons, including Sergeant Robert Byron, who again questions Mrs. Murray. She tells the same story she told Clemmons: but advances the time frame by 3.5 hours, saying she woke up at 3:30AM ~ not midnight. And even more curiously, Dr. Greenson & Dr. Engelberg confirm her new statement, saying they arrived around 3:50AM ~ not 12:30AM.
***With ALL THREE changing their story to line up with each other, the beginnings of a cover-up involving many people are strongly indicated.
- Rigor mortis was advanced by the time Guy Hockett examined Monroe’s body; he estimated that she died 6-8 hours earlier, between 9:30-11:30PM on Saturday, August 4th. In this case, science refutes the claims of Mrs. Murray, Dr. Greenson, & Dr. Engelberg ~ who all claimed she died closer to 3:50AM. The advanced state of rigor mortis made this impossible.
And the testimony of Joe & Dolores Naar, neighbors of Marilyn’s who had been at Peter Lawford’s for dinner that evening, confirm that Marilyn had died closer to 10:30PM on Saturday night. They received a frantic call from Peter Lawford around that time, as they were getting ready for bed: Lawford wanted them to check on her ~ he was extremely worried about her. Also, the testimony of Natalie Trundy Jacobs, widow of Marilyn’s publicist, Arthur Jacobs, further confirms the true time of Monroe’s death. Natalie & Arthur had been at the Hollywood Bowl Saturday night; a staffer came to their box with an urgent message near the end of the concert (around 10:40PM) from Pat Newcomb: Marilyn Monroe was dead. Natalie said they left the concert immediately, & she didn’t see Arthur for two days after that: he was so busy handling the fall-out from Monroe’s death.
***So if the true time of Monroe’s death was around 10:30PM on Saturday, why did Mrs. Murray, Dr. Greenson, & Dr. Engelberg wait until 4:25AM Sunday to call the police ~ almost 6 hours after she was known to be dead??
The Autopsy of Marilyn Monroe
- The autopsy of Marilyn Monroe is where things start to get really strange, & where in my mind, the evidence of a cover-up is even more pronounced. First, a newly appointed medical examiner, Dr. Thomas Noguchi, is assigned to Marilyn’s autopsy by Coroner Theodore Curphey. This was highly irregular. Typically, the Chief Medical Examiner or someone far more senior than Noguchi would have been assigned a high-profile autopsy like Monroe’s; but the order came from Curphey himself that he wanted Noguchi to perform the autopsy.
- Lionel Grandison is the coroner’s aide, & was responsible for ensuring that anyone who died under suspicious circumstances be directed to the L.A. County Coroner’s office. The problem was….he couldn’t find Marilyn Monroe at first. Eventually, he found her body at the Westwood Village Mortuary, about to be embalmed! This was against L.A. County jurisdiction, & Grandison ordered them to immediately release the body to the coroner’s office. He questioned the mortuary staff, but never determined who made that call for the mortuary to pick up Monroe’s body.
- Three people are present at Monroe’s autopsy: Dr. Thomas Noguchi, John Miner (a deputy district attorney), & Coroner Curphey. The presence of the coroner at the autopsy was again, highly irregular; the Chief Medical Examiner most likely wouldn’t have allowed it.
- Several interesting things were found during Monroe’s autopsy: first, they saw no noticeable needle marks. But, needle marks are notoriously difficult to detect, & we know that Dr. Engelberg had given Monroe an injection on August 3rd, approximately 30 hours before her death. Also noted was the fact that Monroe had “dual lividity.” Blood pools in the lowest part of the body after death, & when there is dual lividity: it indicates that the body has been moved during those critical hours following death. If she had died at 10:30PM in her own bedroom, face down (as she was found): dual lividity would likely NOT have occurred. It is far more likely that she died elsewhere (i.e. in the guest cottage), & her body moved to the bedroom. Next, Noguchi noted that she had two fresh, large bruises on her left hip & left lower back. Grandison also noted during intake that she had bruises on her arms & the back of her legs. These bruises were never explained “officially,” but if Fred Otash’s surveillance tapes were correct: these bruises were inflicted during the violent argument that occurred on August 4th between Monroe & Bobby Kennedy. Noguchi later said that the large bruise on her left hip “has never been fully explained. It is a sign of violence.”
When Noguchi opened Marilyn’s stomach during the autopsy, he & Miner were shocked: the stomach was entirely empty. No pills. No food. (Mrs. Murray stated multiple times that Marilyn had eaten nothing on Saturday, which was confirmed by the autopsy.) Noguchi & Miner then looked at the duodenum, the first digestive tract after the stomach: & again found nothing. NO pills. For someone to have died of massive barbiturate poisoning, finding no pills, residue, or refractile crystals anywhere in the digestive tract was astonishing.
And it most likely meant: the barbiturates were NOT administered orally, they had to have been introduced to Marilyn Monroe’s body in a different way.
- The autopsy lasted five hours. Noguchi requested that Marilyn’s blood be tested for alcohol & barbiturates, & that her liver, kidney, stomach, urine, & intestine all be saved for further toxilogical study. And here’s where things get REALLY strange: though her blood & liver were both tested immediately, on August 6th (confirming that she died of massive barbiturate poisoning) ~ Marilyn Monroe’s kidney, stomach, urine, & intestine samples ALL disappeared. The samples Noguchi & Miner had prepared, under the close watch of Coroner Curphey, had vanished. To say this is irregular is a gross understatement, particularly in the case of someone as well-known as Monroe.
As John Miner said, “In the entire history of the L.A. Country Coroner’s office, there had never been a previous instance of organ samples vanishing.”
- The missing organs of Marilyn Monroe, as overseen by Coroner Curphey, are to me, one of the clearest & most egregious demonstrations of the cover-up of Monroe’s actual cause of death. We already know that she died of massive barbiturate poisoning, but the samples would have shown unequivocally HOW those barbiturates were administered to her system. Someone did not want those results to become public, because I believe it would have shown, without any doubt, that Marilyn Monroe did NOT & could NOT have committed suicide.
- What the blood test did show, was that Marilyn Monroe had 4.5 milligrams percent of pentobarbital & 8.0 milligrams percent of chloral hydrate in her bloodstream. Additionally, her liver had 13 milligrams percent pentobarbital ~ an absurdly high amount. To reach these levels, Marilyn would had to have ingested somewhere between 52 to 89 pills; the fact that NO residue or pills were discovered anywhere in her system entirely refutes the fact that she ingested these pills herself. The only reasonable conclusion to draw, is that she received what they used to call a “hot shot,” or injection by needle, with enough barbiturates to kill between 9 to 20 people.
And since she is known to have died around 10:30PM, directly following Bobby Kennedy’s visit with two unknown men, one of whom carried a doctor’s bag: the most likely scenario is that one of these men injected her with a “hot shot,” which would have given her about 10-20 minutes before she expired. This gave her just enough time to call Peter Lawford: which left him frantic enough to call the Naars’ to check on her. And when Mrs. Murray returned to the house with Norman Jefferies, it left them frantic enough to call both Dr. Greenson AND an ambulance.
And this was what caused the death of Marilyn Monroe.
After the Autopsy…
- Joe Hyams, a correspondent for the Herald-Tribune, attempts to obtain a copy of Marilyn Monroe’s phone records, immediately following news of her death on Sunday morning. His contact at the telephone company tells him, “All hell’s broken loose down here. You’re not the only one interested in Marilyn’s calls. The tape’s disappeared….I’m told it was impounded by men in dark suits & well-shined shoes…somebody high up ordered it.”
That “high-up” person who most likely confiscated Marilyn’s phone records was Captain James Hamilton, long-time security adviser & friend of both Jack & Bobby Kennedy (he was mentioned in earlier articles). Hamilton’s friend, crime reporter Jack Tobin, had lunch with Hamilton shortly after Marilyn’s death, & only years later revealed: “Hamilton told me he had the telephone history of the last day or two of Marilyn Monroe’s life.” It is believed he kept the records as a form of “insurance,” in exchange for which he wanted a post at the FBI or CIA, once the Kennedys got rid of J. Edgar Hoover.
- On Monday, August 6th, Coroner Curphey said that Monroe “definitely had not died from natural causes.” He said that not only would the coroner’s office look into her death ~ but so would the L.A. Suicide Prevention Team. They would conduct “exhaustive interviews.” And yet, they never interviewed Peter Lawford, Mrs. Murray, Norman Jefferies, or Pat Newcomb: any of the many people actually at Monroe’s home on August 4th. In fact, NONE of these people ever testified, because an inquest was never called for Marilyn Monroe.
The only person known to have been interviewed was Dr. Greenson; & he was interviewed by John Miner on Monday, August 12th, 1962. In that interview, he told Miner unequivocally that he knew Monroe had not committed suicide. He played Miner a half-hour tape recording that Monroe had made at her home, prior to her death. The evidence on the tape led Miner to conclude that Monroe had not committed suicide. But Greenson made Miner promise that he would never reveal how or why Greenson knew this, due to a conflict of professional ethics.
(Greenson would also later tell colleagues that he believed he was responsible, in some ways, for Marilyn’s death. Friends, family, & business associates said that Dr. Greenson was never the same after her death; he died in 1979).
Miner made a memorandum of his interview with Dr. Greenson & filed it with both the district attorney & the coroner’s office.
- When Coroner Curphey saw Miner’s memo, he was was shocked. The correct protocol to take at that point would have been to call a formal inquest, & put all witnesses who’d been at Monroe’s home that day under oath. But that didn’t happen. Instead, Miner’s memorandum vanished just as Marilyn Monroe’s kidney & urine samples had vanished: seemingly into thin air. Curphey called Lionel Grandison, coroner’s aide, into his office to sign Marilyn Monroe’s death certificate, indicating the cause of death as “probable suicide.” Grandison noted, when looking at her file, that several reports & charts he had seen were gone, & the initial autopsy report (taken by Thomas Noguchi) had been changed. He called this to Coroner Curphey’s attention, but Curphey became very angry, & told Grandison that he needed to sign the death certificate. Worried for his job, Grandison reluctantly signed it.
It is these actions taken by Coroner Curphey, & all of the things that mysteriously went “missing” in Marilyn’s files, that make a cover-up seem so obvious. If Marilyn had simply committed suicide, why would any of her files or organs need to be removed?? The files, perhaps because they showed embarrassing connections to the Kennedys. But the only possible reason for disposing of her organs could be that they showed, unequivocally, that Marilyn had been murdered.
You can watch Coroner Curphey’s press conference about Marilyn’s death here, wherein he talks more about her past suicide attempts than her actual death. In this day & age, we might call this behavior “gas-lighting.”
- In 1985, a British documentary called “Say Goodbye to the President” is nominated for “Best TV Documentary of the Year,” & receives wide critical acclaim. But American networks refuse to broadcast it, until many years later. It can still be watched on YouTube, which you can find here. In this documentary, we have perhaps the most stark & glaring evidence of a cover-up, when Eunice Murray comes straight out & says it, once she thinks the cameras have been turned off:
“Why, at my age, do I still have to cover up this thing?”
The interviewer asks what she means, & she says, “I was not supposed to know the Kennedy’s were a very important part of Marilyn’s life, but over a period of time, I was a witness to what was happening.” When asked directly if Bobby Kennedy had been in Marilyn’s home on August 4th, 1962, Mrs. Murray replied, “Oh sure, yes, I was in the living room when he arrived. She was not dressed. It became so sticky that the protectors of Robert Kennedy, you know, had to step in and protect him…”
Finally, the admission that we’ve been waiting for, that is a long time coming ~ almost twenty years after both Kennedy brothers have passed away. Only then did Eunice Murray feel she could speak the truth.
- In 1994, a CIA document surfaced with relevance to Marilyn Monroe, & was dated August 3rd, 1962: one day before her death. Her telephone had been wiretapped (as had famous columnist Dorothy Kilgallen’s), & the document evaluated their conversations. It stated that Marilyn Monroe was repeatedly calling the Attorney General (Bobby Kennedy), complaining about how she’d been cut off by him & his brother (JFK). In these conversations, she threatened to hold a press conference to “tell all.” Marilyn also made references to bases in Cuba & said she knew of JFK’s plan to assassinate Castro. Finally, she referred to her “diary of secrets,” that many said didn’t exist ~ but that several people close to her had seen. This CIA document, with parts redacted, can be found in Donald Wolfe’s book, The Last Days of Marilyn Monroe.
The Cover-Up of Marilyn Monroe’s Death
This article could go on & on: following her death, there were SO many strange occurrences. Donald Wolfe’s book goes into much greater depth on all these topics, as does Anthony Summers’ book, Goddess. If you enjoy watching documentaries & wish to go down the Marilyn Monroe rabbit hole, there are many great ones on YouTube. Among them: “Marilyn Monroe: The Case for Murder,” “Marilyn Monroe: The Ultimate Investigation into a Suspicious Death,” & the testimonies of Sergeant Jack Clemmons, John Miner, & many others can be found here in this series.
I think Jack Clemmons put it best, why this case has fascinated me so much, & why I believe it’s still relevant, even today: If Marilyn Monroe’s death could be covered up, & she was the most famous woman in the world ~ what do you think could happen to you…???