Prince died nearly a year ago, on April 21, 2016. The legendary rock star was found dead in an elevator in his home, Paisley Park. He was 57-years-old. Warrants and other documents related to his death were unsealed yesterday, and although they don’t answer all the questions related to the untimely death of the music icon, they do give insight into the extent of his opioid addiction.
At the time of his death, people at the home of Prince indicated to investigators that he had been suffering from withdrawals from prescription medications to which he had become addicted. Upon investigating, authorities did not find evidence of any controlled substances prescribed to Prince. They did, however, find one written to his bodyguard, Kirk Johnson, for oxycodone.
Dr. Michael Schulenberg was the star’s physician. The oxycodone prescription was written by him on April 14 but was prescribed for Kirk Johnson. Schulenberg said this was to protect Prince’s privacy, but his attorney has stated that he prescribed the opioid with no knowledge that they would be provided to Prince. Johnson’s attorney has stated that his client did not provide the fentanyl that ultimately killed the musician. If Schulenberg did write prescriptions to Johnson that he knew were intended for Prince, he has violated both federal and state laws according to a report from CNBC.
The Carver County search warrant obtained within a week of the singer’s death uncovered controlled substances hidden throughout his home, Paisley Park. Most were prescription painkillers according to Rolling Stone and were hidden in a variety of containers, including vitamin bottles. Zofran, a medication taken to lessen the effects of opioid withdrawal, was found in a container that was labeled for Vitamin D. Prince often used the name Peter Bravestrong as an alias. A briefcase found bearing that name held undisclosed controlled substances next to handwritten lyrics for the song “U Got the Look.” The source of the fentanyl that ultimately killed the music legend has still not been determined.
Investigators report that statements provided by those at Paisley Park when the warrant was served were not consistent and were sometimes contradictory, especially some statements made by Kirk Johnson. Among his contradictory statements were those in which he said he wasn’t aware of Prince’s addiction although he had contacted a rehabilitation clinic regarding the problem just days before the star’s death. He eventually told police that Prince had been battling both addiction and withdrawal.
According to a report from the Star Tribune, some of the prescription bottles found at Paisley Park tested positive for synthetic fentanyl. Investigators have been working under the assumption that Prince did not know that the pills he took contained the drug. The level of fentanyl found in his system during his autopsy would be fatal for anyone, according to someone familiar with the investigation.
Among the information included in the search warrant affidavits was that it was Johnson and Prince’s personal assistant, Meron Berkure, who found him in the elevator. Emergency help was on the scene within minutes. Prior to finding him in the elevator, no one had seen or heard from the singer since 8 p.m. the previous night. One of those present when police arrived was Andrew Kornfeld. He was at Paisley Park to assess Prince for possible treatment at “Recovery Without Walls,” a drug dependency program run by Kornfeld’s father Howard. Andrew told authorities that his father did not know about the controlled substances he had brought with him to give to Prince that would help him. He stated that he would not have administered them without a doctor present. A pamphlet for the drug dependency program was found in Prince’s Purple Rain room.
It’s not known whether authorities will be filing charges against either Schulenberg or Kornfeld.
[Featured Image by Kevin Winter/Getty Images]