Police have confirmed that prescription medication was found in the apartment where Australian actor Heath Ledger's body was found today and said signs pointed to either an accidental overdose or suicide.
The 28-year-old actor, who rocketed to fame in his role as a gay cowboy in the Oscar-winning movie “Brokeback Mountain,” was found dead, naked in bed, in a New York residence in the posh district of Soho at 3:26 pm (2036 GMT) on Tuesday.
The cause of his death could not be confirmed. An autopsy is scheduled for Wednesday.
“There were prescription pills found around the body,” Lieutenant John Grimpel, of the New York Police Department, said.
“I believe they were sleeping pills.”
He confirmed the pills were in Ledger's name.
Police earlier said there was no obvious indication of suicide.
The actor's family has denied he killed himself, the TMZ.com website reported. The site also said he was sick with pneumonia when he died.
In an interview with the New York Times in November, Ledger said he had been taking Ambien sleeping pills.
Lt Grimpel said he had no evidence at this stage to support reports that Ledger had been suffering from pneumonia.
“I just heard about that now,” he said.
“I have no idea about pneumonia.”
Masseuse discovered Ledger
Lt Grimpel said it was believed the housekeeper had been in the apartment from at least midday. Police were alerted at about 3.30pm.
It was not until a masseuse arrived at the apartment to give Ledger a scheduled massage that it was discovered Ledger was unconscious.
“Apparently he had a massage appointment,” Lt Grimpel said.
“The housekeeper went to get him and that's when the housekeeper found him unconscious.
“When she went to wake him up for his appointment, he was unresponsive.”
Lt Grimpel said he was unsure whether the housekeeper resided at the three-bedroom loft apartment or only worked there during the day.
“I don't know if she lives there or stays there, but she was in there from at least noon onwards,” Lt Grimpel said.
When the police and ambulance officers arrived, Ledger could not be revived.
“The police department responded to his apartment at 3.30pm this afternoon,” Lt Grimpel said.
“They found a white male unconscious in his bedroom.
“He was pronounced DOA (dead on arrival) at the scene by EMS (ambulance officers) and he was removed to the Medical Examiners Office.
“The medical examiner will conduct an autopsy and will determine the cause of death. He'll probably do that sometime tomorrow.”
Ledger told the New York Times he was taking sleeping pills after completing I'm Not There, in which he played one of the many incarnations of singer Bob Dylan.
“Last week I probably slept an average of two hours a night,” Ledger told the NY Times.
“I couldn't stop thinking. My body was exhausted, and my mind was still going.”
He said he took two Ambien pills, which only worked for an hour, the paper said.