Real Name: Elvis Aron Presley
Case: Suspicious Death
Location: Memphis, Tennessee
Date: August 16, 1977
Details: Elvis Presley was one of the most famous and charismatic entertainers in the world. When he died on the morning of August 16, 1977 in his home at Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, it came as a great shock to all his fans. To this day, several people who still refuse to accept his death instead believe the alternate urban legend that he faked his own death. However, several other people wonder if it was an accident or suicide.
His stepbrother, David Stanley, is certain that Elvis committed suicide. Around the time of his death, Elvis was on a strict daily routine. Three times per day, he took nearly a dozen different prescription drugs and pain-killers, including Demerol and Seconal, to help with his physical ailments. The drugs were administered by members of his entourage. His drug usage began in 1958 after he was drafted into the Army and sent overseas. While on the front, he began taking drugs to keep himself awake. After he was discharged, he starred in several films. He wanted to be drama film star, but his management did not let him because they did not believe he would make enough money.
Depressed by his lack of drama roles and overbearing fans, he retreated to his Graceland mansion. He surrounded himself with paid friends, called the "Memphis Mafia". When he was not on tour, he kept himself isolated from the outside world. His affairs, absences, and drug use led to the end of his six-year marriage to Priscilla. He became angered and depressed after the divorce.
By the mid-1970s, insiders claimed that Elvis's dependence on drugs was so bad that he needed round-the-clock care and supervision. David and a group of men known as the "lifers" took care of him and catered to his every need. They were with him all of the time, getting him food, waking him up, and getting him medication. He received his drugs in three separate doses, known as "attacks". Each attack contained several kinds of drugs in pill or syringe form. Among them were Valium, Nembutal, Demerol, Quaalude, and Seconal. The first attack was usually delivered between 2AM and 3AM. After he would take the attack, he would eat a couple of cheeseburgers and fries. His lifers would have to watch him while eating, because he would sometimes become groggy and fall asleep with food in his mouth.
After sleeping for a few hours, Elvis would awaken for attack two. After a few hours, he would receive attack three. The amount of drugs seemed to be too high for an average individual. Red West, his friend and bodyguard, told him that he did not need to take that many drugs. Elvis, however, claimed that he did need them. Red felt that there was nothing that he could do. David also tried to help him, but was unsuccessful.
Elvis's depression worsened in the weeks prior to his death. Even though he had made millions of dollars in the past, he was short on money. His manager had booked another tour, which he was dreading. He was visibly overweight, in poor health, and reportedly impotent. He was also despondent about a book that was about to be published, written by former members of his entourage. The book detailed the side of Elvis that his fans knew nothing about.
David said it was clear that he was depressed and did not want to go on anymore tours. The last time David saw him, Elvis said goodbye to him and was crying. He said that he would never see him again and that the next time he would see him would be in a "higher place in a higher plane."
The exact sequence of events on the day of his death is uncertain. However, there were several differences from his normal routine. First, he ignored his late night feast. Next, he did not use his Demerol. The last person to see him alive was his girlfriend. At 9:30AM, he got out of bed and went to the bathroom to read. His body was found in the bathroom a few hours later. Paramedics were already there when David arrived. He was certain that Elvis had committed suicide. He found that Elvis had taken all three of his attacks at once. He believes that Elvis did this to end his life.
The official autopsy determined that Elvis died of an irregular heartbeat due to severe cardiovascular disease. Clinical toxicologist Dr. Kevin Merigian stated that there was no evidence that he died of a drug overdose. However, David is certain that the drugs were responsible for Elvis's death.
His friend Red West believes that Elvis would not kill himself purposely because of his religion. His father Vernon had a private autopsy done on Elvis. The results will not be released until 2027. His fans and others still wonder if his death was merely an accident or suicide.
Extra Notes: This case first aired on the November 13, 1997 episode. Elvis Presley was also featured prominently as a part of the twinless twin segment that aired on February 16, 1996.
- Elvis Presley on Unsolved.com
- Elvis Presley on Wikipedia
- Elvis Presley was my brother
- Elvis Presley’s Stepbrother Claims His Death was No Accident