A Moldy Home, a Flu-Like Illness and the Deaths of Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack

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Murphy and Monjack

Simon Monjack and Brittany Murphy

September 5, 2016

By Lisa Petrison, Ph.D.

On December 9, 2009, actress Brittany Murphy died of a lung infection which turned out to be Staphyloccoccus aureus, a very common bacteria that a healthy system should be able to keep in check.

The cause of death was stated by the coroner to have been pneumonia, with secondary factors of anemia and multiple drug intoxication (involving hydrocodone and other drugs prescribed to treat her respiratory infection).

Five months later, the late actress’s husband, Simon Monjack, died while still living in the same house. His death was stated by the coroner to have been caused by the same thing – pneumonia and severe anemia.

Brittany Murphy had starred in a number of motion pictures, including “Clueless,” “Girl, Interrupted” and “8 Mile.” She was age 32 at the time of her death.

At first, the idea that toxic mold had been involved in the deaths appeared to be dismissed by all concerned. The coroner stated that the involvement of mold had been considered and ruled out, and Brittany Murphy’s mother, Sharon Murphy, called the idea “absurd.”

A few years later, after consulting with professionals while working on selling the house, Sharon Murphy stated that she had changed her mind and that she had come to believe that toxic mold may have been a factor in the deaths.

Brittany Murphy purchased the home in 2003 from singer Britney Spears. It was located at the bottom of a steep hill in Hollywood Hills.

Murphy had frequently stated that she disliked the house and wished she didn’t have to spend time in it, and Monjack had investigated whether mold might have been a problem in the home prior to Murphy’s death.

Monjack had suffered from frequent seizures, asthma and sleep apnea while living in the home, and Sharon Murphy acquired breast cancer and debilitating neuropathy while living there.

Brittany Murphy had been taking migraine medication, Klonopin (a benzodiazapine) and Prozac (an antidepressant), in addition to the medication for the respiratory infection, while living there.

In August 2014, the UK television program Autopsy ran an hour-long program looking at Brittany Murphy’s death, called “Autopsy: The Final Hours of Brittany Murphy.” The program features assessments about celebrity deaths by Dr. Richard Shepherd, a forensic pathologist.

A streaming version of the program (Season 2, Episode 3 of the “Autopsy” series) is currently available for purchase through Amazon in the UK.

The program content was summarized in an article in the Daily Mail.

In the documentary, Simon Monjack’s mother, Linda Monjack, stated about the home:

When I walked through the door, there was no air ventilation whatsoever. The windows were breaking down from mold. This was a place of unhealthiness. It didn’t feel right. The actual bedroom itself where they both spent so much time – the actual windows were taped up, so there was no air ventilation whatsoever. The mold that was growing up by the windows was really quite horrific and it just felt very oppressive, as if this was a place of unhealthiness.

 

Dr. Shepherd stated:

The autopsy report shows that they didn’t find any fungi, either in her bloodstream or in the sections of lung that they examined under the microscope. So mold and fungi haven’t played a direct role in the death of Brittany. But living in poor housing conditions like that, it’s likely to have had a debilitating effect and contributed to her infection and death….She apparently was living in appalling conditions.

 

In June 2016, Sharon Murphy put the home on the real estate market for $18.4 million. It was stated as having been wholly renovated from the “ground up” and looked very different from the outside from the previous residence.

 

Media Articles

Mold Inspection Pro – June 30, 2016

East Bay Times – June 28, 2016

US Weekly – June 27, 2016

Nicki Swift – June 2016

Daily Mail – May 13, 2016

E! – March 24, 2016

Mirror – August 6, 2014

Daily Mail – August 5, 2014

The Hollywood Reporter – November 25, 2013

CNN – November 20, 2013

The Wrap – November 19, 2013

Daily Mail – March 29, 2013

Know the Cause – December 7, 2012

Celebrity Diagnosis – December 21, 2011

Mother Nature Network – December 20, 2011

The Daily Beast – December 20, 2011

The Hollywood Reporter – December 19, 2011

Huffington Post – December 19, 2011

The Hollywood Reporter – January 11, 2011

ABC News – July 28, 2010

CNN – July 26, 2010

LA Times – July 26, 2010

People – July 26, 2010

E News – July 26, 2010

 

3de66-bmurphy_redux

The home of Brittany Murphy and Simon Monjack prior to the renovation.

 

 

Clueless

Brittany Murphy in the movie “Clueless.”

 

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