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Unsolved: The 11 Most Mysterious Celebrity Deaths

Paul Walker and Vin Diesel
Source: Joerg Carstensen/EPA/Shutterstock

Feb. 6 2020, Updated 6:09 p.m. ET

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From Prince to Tupac, there have been celebrity deaths with seemingly unresolved loose ends that keep fans talking and wondering if there is more to the story. Was Paul Walker’s fiery car accident really an accident? Did Clueless star Brittany Murphy really die of pneumonia? If so, why did her body have a high level of metal toxins? What about River Phoenix’s death in the street? Celebrity suicides — such as Chris Cornell and Chester Bennington — hit fans particularly hard and leave them searching for other explanations of what really happened.

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There are sometimes strange circumstances involved in a celebrity death that seem like more than just a coincidence. For example, Whitney Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, was found unconscious in a bathtub, just like her mom. Rapper Notorious B.I.G. was killed in a drive-by shooting just six months after Tupac Shakur was gunned down in a drive-by shooting. Neither case has been solved. Even all these years later, the eerie details surrounding the death of Marilyn Monroe and Natalie Wood keep many wondering what really happened.

More: 20 Weird and Wacky Hollywood Conspiracy Theories

Ready to play detective? Here are 11 unsolved Hollywood deaths!

Paul Walker

Paul Walker sitting in a car
Source: Emilio Naranjo/EPA/Shutterstock

The irony in that Paul Walker, who starred in The Fast and the Furious franchise about street racing, died in a fiery car crash was not lost on many. Walker was just 40 when the Porsche Carrera GT he was riding in hit a concrete pole at over 100 miles per hour on November 30, 2014 in Los Angeles.

Both Walker and the driver of the car, Roger Rodas, died at the scene and both bodies were burned beyond recognition, which required dental records to make positive identifications. The coroner report found that Walker died of “combined effects of traumatic and thermal injuries,” and that the death was found to be accidental.

Many fans aren’t so sure.

Many conspiracy theories have surrounded the mysterious death of Walker. One theory is that Walker was murdered because he wanted to quit acting and leave the secret society Illuminati.

Another conspiracy theory is that Walker and Rodas had discovered, through their charity work, that medicinal supplies and food sent to the Philippines after Super Typhoon Yolanda included a permanent hidden birth control drug. They allegedly had a recording proving the theory, and it is believed that someone rigged the car’s brakes to prevent that from getting out.

Of course, neither one of these theories has been proven and no concrete evidence has been found to support the claims.

Tupac Shakur

Tupak Shukur
Source: Eli Reed/Columbia/Kobal/Shutterstock

Rapper and actor Tupac Shakur was killed in a drive-by shooting in Las Vegas on September 7, 1996. He was shot four times and died six days later at a hospital at just 25 years of age.

More than 20 years later, no arrests have been made, and his murder is still unsolved.

The Los Angeles Times reported that a rival gang with ties to the rapper The Notorious B.I.G. may have been involved. Shakur was reportedly affiliated with the Bloods. Their report alleged that The Notorious B.I.G. paid rival gang the Southside Crips $1 million for the murder of Shakur and even provided the gun.

No arrests were made as the sources used in the piece wanted to remain anonymous.

Notorious B.I.G.

Notorious BIG
Source: Mark Lennihan/AP/Shutterstock

Six months after Shakur was killed, the Notorious B.I.G. (or Biggie Smalls) was gunned down in a drive-by shooting in Los Angeles in 1997. Sean “P.Diddy” Combs was in the car ahead of him and rushed to his side to help him.

He died within an hour of being shot and was only 24.

No arrests have been made in his murder, but many speculate it was a rival gang shooting as retaliation for Shakur’s death. This remains another mysterious celebrity death.

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Chris Cornell

Chris Cornell Soundgarden
Source: Joe Papeo/Shutterstock

Soundgarden frontman Chris Cornell, 52, was found dead in his hotel room on May 18, 2017 in Detroit. His death was ruled a suicide — he was found with a rubber exercise band around his neck. There were also seven medications found in his system, but it was reported that this did not contribute to his death.

His wife, Vicky Cornell, is not buying the suicide explanation. She told The Detroit News that she felt that the medical examiner conducted a “botched investigation.”

“This has left me and my family still looking for answers, but at the same time, set off this whirlwind of conspiracies,”she said. “Some of the people are just fans looking for answers, but some of them are conspiracy theorists who say the most vile things to my children and me.”

“The poor choice of phrasing has misled the public to believing he was of sound mind and body,” she continues. “So some conspiracy people think if Chris wasn’t impaired, he would never have killed himself, and so he must have been killed — and then they start getting into the rest of the holes.”

Even though no narcotics were found in his system (Cornell had battled opioid and alcohol addiction in the past), she believes the prescription meds he had taken contributed to his death.

“When I spoke with him on the phone the night he died, he was slurring his words (and) was on and off incoherent. He said he’d taken two Ativan. His bodyguard was supposed to only give him one per night. We didn’t fight; I was just upset that he took more, and I could hear the effect it had. I was not going to enable him. (I said) ‘What do you mean you took two?”

“If you add it all up, he was on these prescription drugs that should have never been prescribed. It caused a relapse...I think it was, unfortunately, the perfect storm, a combination of factors that made him go manic. Had the medical examiner looked at all these factors, maybe they wouldn’t have concluded it was a suicide in just an hour and a half.”

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Chester Bennington

Chester Bennington
Source: Manuel Nauta/Nurphoto/Shutterstock
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Prince

Linkin Park’s lead singer, Chester Bennington, was found dead in 2017, and his death ruled a suicide by hanging. He had struggled with substance abuse in the past, but his death shocked his family and friends.

Fans considered his death mysterious and weren’t buying the suicide ruling as he and Cornell were good friends. In fact, he posted a moving tribute to Cornell on Twitter. 

One month to the day after Cornell had died, Bennington died the same way: suicide by hanging. To make things even more strange, Bennington died on Cornell’s birthday.

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Brittany Murphy

Brittany Murphy and husband
Source: Andy Fossum/Startraksphoto.com

Clueless star Brittany Murphy stunned her fans when she died suddenly at age 32 after battling “flu-like symptoms.” She collapsed at home in her mother’s arms after complaining she couldn’t breath.

Although rumors of drug abuse and anorexia ran rampant, the L.A. County Coroner found that she died as a result of pneumonia combined with anemia. The report also mentioned “multiple drug intoxication” but said it was from prescription and over-the-counter medications and not illegal drugs.

How could the star have died so suddenly from something she could have easily gotten treatment for? Suspicion was directed toward her husband, Simon Monjack (pictured above with Murphy), as he reportedly did not want an autopsy performed on her.

These suspicions heightened even further when Murphy’s dad launched his own investigation. He had her hair and tissues tested for metals and toxins, and the results showed that she died of a possible poisoning “by a third party perpetrator with likely criminal intent.”

To make the story even stranger, Monjack died five months after Murphy with the coroner saying he died of  the exact same thing as Murphy — pneumonia and anemia.

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Prince

Prince
Source: Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

News of Prince’s death shocked the world when learning that he died in an elevator at his Paisley Park home from what was ruled an accidental overdose of opioid fentanyl.

The 57-year-old seemed to be in good health, and USA Today reported that close friends and former spouses had insisted he did not do drugs. There are still many questions surrounding his death, including where he got the drugs and who supplied them.

In fact, his case remains open with the DEA. One of the strange circumstances around this case is that the full autopsy report has been kept secret. Under Minnesota law (where Prince died), these reports can be kept private for up to 30 years unless his next of kin releases it, which they haven’t.

What will this autopsy reveal? Looks like fans will be waiting quite some time before they find out!

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Bobbi Kristina Brown

Bobbi Kristina Brown and Nick Gordan
Source: Jordan Strauss/Invision/AP/Shutterstock

Bobbi Kristina Brown was the daughter of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown, and unfortunately, her death was just as tragic as her mother’s death. Houston died in 2012 after being found in a bathtub. Her cause of death was listed as cocaine use and heart disease.

Brown was found unconscious in a bathtub just three years later with cocaine, marijuana, alcohol and morphine in her system. She was in a medically induced coma for several months before dying. She was a mere 22.

There are those who have said that her death was no accident. In fact, Brown’s estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her boyfriend, Nick Gordon, saying that the two had an argument, and alleging he gave her a “toxic cocktail rendering her unconscious and then put her face down in a tub of cold water causing her to suffer brain damage.”

He was ordered to pay $36 million for damages in a default judgement, but to this day he insists he is innocent and no criminal charges have been filed.

“She was too terrified to bathe alone after Whitney passed, we both were. It’s why this is so messed up,” he said.

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River Phoenix

River Phoenix
Source: Kerry Hayes/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

River Phoenix was the “it” actor in the ‘90s, so when he collapsed and died in front of The Viper Room in 1993, the world was shocked and saddened. He was just 23 when he died. His cause of death was listed as a combined drug intoxication of cocaine and heroin.

Phoenix (pictured above with actress Martha Plimpton) had friends who insisted that he didn't do drugs, while others said he had a drug habit he kept hidden. Regardless, there are some strange circumstances surrounding his death. His girlfriend at the time, Samantha Mathis, said she knew something was wrong that night.  

She said she saw a friend give him a small Dixie cup of liquid telling him to drink it, and he would feel “fabulous.” 45 minutes later, he was dead. The drink reportedly contained a speedball that was so strong it was eight times over the legal limit.

Was this intentional or accidental? No one knows, but a young actor lost his life in the prime of his career.

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Natalie Wood

Natalie Wood and Robert Wagner
Source: Uncredited/AP/Shutterstock

Actress Natalie Wood’s mysterious death in 1981 reads like a Hollywood script. She was on her family’s yacht near Catalina Island in California with her husband, actor Robert Wagner. Actor Christopher Walken was also on the yacht.

Her body was found floating in the water the next day in a red down jacket and a nightgown. Her death at the time was ruled “accidental drowning.” She was a young 43.

Even though Wagner insists it was a horrible accident, the yacht’s captain, Dennis Davern, made an appearance on Megyn Kelly Today and claimed that Wagner actually pushed Wood off of the side of the boat. The L.A. County Sheriff reopened the death investigation and named Wagner a “person of interest.” Additionally, the L.A. coroner changed her death certificate from accidental drowning to “drowning and other undetermined factors.” No charges have been filed against Wagner.

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Marilyn Monroe

Marilyn Monroe
Source: Richard Avedon/Warner Bros/Kobal/Shutterstock

Even though Marilyn Monroe was found dead in 1962, her death remains one of the most mysterious celebrity deaths. She was just 36 when her naked body was found in her bed in her Los Angeles home.

Her death was ruled a suicide by overdosing from barbituates (sleeping pills), but conspiracy theories ran rampant after her death. There are many who believe she was murdered as she was allegedly having affairs with President Kennedy and later his brother Bobby Kennedy.

Some believe she was injected with lethal drugs against her will. To add to the mystery, she reportedly had a diary that was stolen the night she was found dead. To this day, the diary has not been found.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office reviewed the case in 1982 but found no evidence to support the conspiracy theories and declared the case was closed.

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