The sheriff whose department is investigating Prince’s death said there were no signs of violent injury to the singer’s body and no indication that he committed suicide.
Carver County Sheriff Joe Olson said a call was first received from Prince’s Paisley Park studio complex in Chanhassen, Minn., at 9:43 a.m. on Thursday. Staff members had been unable to reach the singer and had gone to the building to check on him.
Prince was found “unresponsive” in the elevator wearing a shirt and pants and, though CPR was performed, he was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.
“To you, Prince Rogers Nelson was a celebrity. To us, he’s a community member and a good neighbor,” Olson said. “In life, he was a very private person. We’re going to continue to respect his privacy and dignity.”
Because it was an unwitnessed death of a middle-aged man, crime-scene investigators processed Paisley Park. They were done by Thursday afternoon.
Olson said there was “no obvious signs of trauma on the body at all,” including no indication of a head injury from a fall. Asked if the singer had tried calling for help, the sheriff said, “I don’t recall seeing a cell phone in the close proximity of where he was at.”
Three staffers were at the complex by the time police and fire responded, Olson said.
Evidence thus far also indicates there’s “no reason to believe at this point that this was a suicide.” There had also been no emergency calls related to Prince in the past year.
The autopsy on Prince’s body lasted from 9 a.m. this morning until 1 p.m. Martha Weaver, spokeswoman for the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, said they’re conducting a “meticulous, complete exam” that includes the medical history of his emergency landing in Illinois for unspecified treatment after an Atlanta show less than a week before he died.
TMZ reported that the emergency landing, which Prince’s reps said was connected to the flu, was prompted by a drug overdose. Several years ago it was reported that Prince needed a double hip replacement but, as a Jehovah’s Witness, he didn’t want to undergo surgery if a blood transfusion might be needed. His former fiancee, Sheila E, confirmed to media that he had been in pain for many years because of hips.
Prince was seen at Walgreens the evening before his death.
Olson said they weren’t able to confirm at this point if he was taking medications.
The sheriff did say all officers carry Narcan, a drug to counter an opiate overdose. “That was not used yesterday,” he noted.
The investigation is ongoing, the sheriff said. A search warrant was issued as normal protocol, he said, and would be filed within a week.
Olson noted that he and Prince were the same age and he knew the singer’s music well. “We are going to leave no stone unturned with this and make sure the public knows what happened,” he vowed.
Weaver compared Prince to Elvis or Gershwin. “For our generation, he was the songbook, the narrative for some of the greatest moments of our lives,” she said.
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