Alternative Death Scenario: Unintentional Homicide

I’d like to remind everyone from the start that this is a hypothetical reconstruction of events that took place 56 years ago. It’s offered as a scenario, just one possible way to make sense of the documentary evidence that has been left to us. It’s important to remember that people are innocent until proven guilty. I don’t want anyone to go vigilante on the women in this scenario. It’s easy, and a bit cowardly to accuse people of crimes after they are dead and can’t defend themselves. I would rather do this while the person is still alive so they can speak in their own defense.

It’s probably pointless to say that this new evidence demands an investigation by the police. Given the failed attempts to open a “real” investigation in the past I know that’s not likely to happen. Those attempts in the past were never taken seriously because the people proposing them were mainly charlatans, fame seekers or they were just plain greedy and willing to lie to sell a story. I know you’ve heard it all before. Every few years now, for over half a century, new claims are offered up as groundbreaking discoveries. Can this one be any different? I believe it is. Evidence that Dr Greenson nor Dr Engelberg gave Marilyn a prescription for the chloral hydrate that killed Marilyn Monroe must be considered and explained.

So… lets resume the story that was laid out in Part I by going back to the time period of early June 1962. For everyone who can’t accept the premise offered in Last Love of a sexual relationship between Pat Kennedy and Marilyn Monroe, please feel free to assume that they were just close, intimate friends.

This scenario begins the weekend following Marilyn’s birthday on June 1, 1962. Marilyn is deeply upset. Henry Weinstein, the producer of Monroe’s last unfinished film, Something’s Got to Give got to know Marilyn very well in her last months. He is convinced that whatever happened that weekend was more important than the weekend she died. He’s quoted as saying, “Something happened that weekend and what it was nobody knows. I think the only one who really knew what happened is Pat Newcomb.” Maybe he was trying to tell us something.

Marilyn’s shrink was out of town and had been for weeks. Her internist Dr Engelberg, was also unavailable. Greenson had been Marilyn’s psychiatrist since she moved from New York back to California in mid-1960. He brought on Engelberg to be Marilyn’s primary physician shortly thereafter. Back in 1960, Greenson didn’t coordinate with Engelberg regarding prescriptions. Marilyn was taking large amounts of Nembutal when Greenson took over her care from her New York psychiatrist, Dr Kris. He continued prescribing huge amounts of the drug while she was filming The Misfits. This is confirmed by both her publicist Rupert Allan and her masseur Ralph Roberts. During a break in the filming Marilyn returned to LA and was hospitalized for exhaustion. In addition to the heat of the desert taking a toll on Marilyn, Greenson also had to confront the fact that the amount of Nembutal Marilyn was taking was getting out of hand. He began prescribing her milder sedatives and chloral hydrate for sleep. Engelberg gave her vitamin shots and injections of B12. Engelberg was apparently unaware that Greenson was experimenting with chloral hydrate, the old and infamous Mickey Finn, knockout drops.

After a brief period of rest, and with a new drug regimen, Marilyn returned to the Nevada desert to resume filming. In Ralph Roberts’ unpublished memoirs he tells of how he would pick up the chloral hydrate that Greenson had delivered. He also relates that Marilyn didn’t think highly of the drug and that she felt that in the prescribed amounts it wasn’t very effective. Apparently she changed her mind when later when she begin to experiment with larger amounts of the chloral hydrate in combination with Nembutal, a potentially lethal combination no doctor would knowingly endorse. After Greenson submitted to her demands for Nembutal he discontinued prescribing chloral hydrate.

Fast forward to spring 1962. Greenson is planning a five week vacation and transfers all responsibility for prescriptions to Engelberg. In addition to barbiturates, Engelberg is prescribing all kings of drugs for Marilyn, including pills for pain and sinus infections, as well as the injections, that now include God knows what. But if we take him at his word he was NOT prescribing chloral hydrate and he didn’t think any doctor in the U.S. would.

Let’s return to the weekend after Marilyn’s birthday. Marilyn is in a bad way. Friday evening, the night of her birthday, she had attended a charity event at Dodgers Stadium. It was a cool and damp evening, and being outside had caused her sinus infection to flare up. She was also despondent. The people she relied on for a support system were not there. Greenson, DiMaggio and Sinatra were all out of the country. DiMaggio had sent a telegram to acknowledge her birthday. Frank sent a gift basket. There’s no record that Pat Kennedy Lawford even contacted her. Seemingly desperate for Greenson’s return, she contacted his children and when they came over they found her in a bad way.

While Greenson was away he had arranged for a colleague of his, a Dr Milton Wexler to be on-call in case Marilyn needed him. Greenson’s kids called Wexler and he came right over. Wexler was an analyst, not a medical doctor, and when he saw the array of prescriptions Marilyn had on hand, he scooped them all into his medical bag before he left. I would say that this was this single most important event that occurred in the summer of 1962. The repercussions of this action by Dr Wexler would lead to the circumstances that played a huge role in Marilyn’s death.

I imagine that no single action could freak out an addict more than to see their stash swept up and taken away from them. Is it harsh to call Monroe an addict? Many authors overstate or misunderstand the problem Monroe had with pills. Too often she is portrayed as some kind of party girl, stumbling through her last months, chasing handfuls of pills with copious amounts of booze. That image is harsh and unwarranted. Identifying her addiction as some kind of character flaw is wrong. This often leads fans to deny or downplay her problems with pills. But to deny that Marilyn had become dependent on sleep medication obscures reality and makes any kind of determination of what happened to her difficult.

When Monroe saw her sleep medication taken away, I think it’s perfectly understandable that she had a melt down. By evening on Saturday, Marilyn was not only dealing with an ear infection but she was without the meds that helped her sleep. Normally she would turn to Engelberg, but he too was unavailable. In his absence, he had arranged for a Dr Milton Uhley to be on-call. Uhley was summoned and he treated Marilyn from 1AM to 4AM Sunday morning. He gave her medication for the ear infection and some sedatives to help her through the night. But Sunday she was once again left without the medication she had come to rely on.

That’s when Pat Newcomb stepped in to help her “friend” out. According to Eunice Murray, “Pat Newcomb moved in for a couple of days to take over Marilyn’s care. Pat said she knew just what to do. Presumably, bringing her own sedatives along to let Marilyn use until her doctor returned. The door to her bedroom was closed for two days while Pat kept her sedated.”

Newcomb has been described by one biographer as the “ever-present” Pat Newcomb. Truer words were never spoken. Pat Newcomb traveled with Marilyn, went to the studio with Marilyn, shopped with Marilyn, dined with Marilyn, spent evenings and weekends with Marilyn and several people have commented how she isolated Monroe and served as a “buffer” between Marilyn and the outside world. With Greenson gone and Paula Strasberg’s influence dwindling, Pat had already moved in to fill the void. With DiMag and Sinatra gone, perhaps Newcomb was filling their void as well. Both Eunice Murray and Marilyn’s handyman testify to the fact that Newcomb moved into Marilyn’s bedroom that weekend. Murray even claims that Pat slept at the foot of her bed. A coworker of Newcomb’s has gone on record saying that rumors of a Newcomb/Monroe affair were circulating at this time and the source of the rumors came from Marilyn’s closest circle of friends. These are perhaps baseless rumors, but they do speak to the fact that Newcomb was a constant presence around Monroe and had infiltrated every part of Marilyn’s life.

We also learn from Murray that Pat was going around telling everyone that she was Marilyn’s best friend. Was she feeling a kind of rivalry with Marilyn’s true best female friend, Pat Kennedy Lawford? I think it’s fair to ask why had Newcomb inserted herself so prominently in Marilyn’s life? Did she feel it necessary to monitor Marilyn’s actions? Was she keeping an eye on Marilyn as some authors have suggested? Whatever the reason, it’s safe to say that Newcomb was closer to Marilyn than any other person and if anyone knows what Marilyn was up to that last summer it would be her.

It’s Monday morning, Marilyn has made it through the weekend. Monroe and Newcomb are still camped out in Marilyn’s bedroom. Murray, alarmed at this turn of events, contacts Greenson to inform him about what is going on and to urge his immediate return. It would take several days for him to get back to California and Marilyn is still without the medication she now so desperately needs. Monroe was due back at the studio that morning but as we have seen, Marilyn was holed up with Pat. We are told in some biographies that the reason Marilyn didn’t return to work that day was because she felt it was pointless, she knew she was going to be fired, so why bother. Could this be the legitimate reason? Would Fox waste time and money filming Marilyn’s scenes if they had already made up their minds to fire her? There’s something more going on here. Others say she didn’t go back because she was sick. Some biographers allude to her being seen by the studio doctor, Dr Lee Siegel, and that he confirmed Marilyn’s sinus infection and recommended that Marilyn stay home. Can this be true? Could Fox not only fire Monroe for this absence, but sue her as well? If their own doctor excused her absence, wouldn’t that negate any legitimate basis for a lawsuit?

What is clear is that Marilyn didn’t return to work and she was fired because of it. I think it’s likely she was sick and had a legitimate reason to not work, however I think something else is going on. Marilyn was without her needed medication, and procuring that medication was her primary concern. I believe that Pat Newcomb, concocted a little scheme to assure Marilyn was never put into a situation were she was without drugs and powerless to do anything about it. Did Newcomb pose as Engelberg’s nurse and phone in the prescriptions to the pharmacy?

Fortunately, for people like to me who want to leave no stone unturned in the quest to know what really happened to Marilyn, her fans place considerable value on everything connected to Monroe. That includes the prescriptions and pill bottles she left behind. These occasionally are photographed as they come to auction. As we have seen earlier, an examination of the photos of Marilyn’s 1962 prescriptions signed by Dr Engelberg yields an alarming result. Many of the signatures don’t match! Starting in this first week of June in 1962, there are a series of prescriptions that look nothing like the prescriptions that include Engelberg’s letterhead. Included in this series of bogus looking prescriptions is one for chloral hydrate, the very drug that when combined with Nembutal, resulted in Monroe’s death. When you look at the handwriting on these prescriptions it is an almost perfect match to another receipt from the pharmacy it was picked up from. This leads to the question of who called it in to this pharmacy?

This is evidence that should reopen the Marilyn’s case. It’s evidence that demands explanation. This is all the more true because Dr Engelberg always maintained that he didn’t prescribe Marilyn the chloral hydrate and also didn’t think any doctor in the US did. He maintained that she must have got the drugs in Mexico., but we know that is not correct.

Someone besides Engelberg phoning the prescription into the pharmacy is a logical solution to the question of how Marilyn got the choral hydrate that killed her. But this solution brings up another vital question. Did anyone help her in this scheme to circumvent doctors and procure drugs illegally? I believe the answer to that question is yes, and the person most likely to have helped Marilyn is the “ever-present” Pat Newcomb.

We know that Murray suspected Newcomb of supplying Monroe with sedatives. Rupert Allan, Marilyn’s previous publicist, has gone on record stating he didn’t recommend Newcomb because he thought she was a “pill pusher.” Greenson, in correspondence with Dr Kris, bemoans the fact that Marilyn has easy access to drugs. One of the reasons Greenson arranged the employment of Eunice Murray was to keep an eye on things, and we know from Newcomb’s own testimony that she thought of Murray as a spy. Milton Rudin, Marilyn’s lawyer and Greenson’s brother-in-law, said Greenson couldn’t keep Newcomb and Monroe from exchanging pills.

Did Newcomb also hold the drugs for Marilyn, (away from Murray’s prying eyes) and only dole them out to Marilyn as needed? Is there any precedent in Marilyn’s life on which to base such a supposition? Yes, there is. Amy Greene, the wife of Marilyn’s partner in Marilyn Monroe Productions, tells us that in the mid-fifties, when she was Marilyn’s closest female friend, Marilyn asked her to hold her medication and only give her access to what she really needed. Monroe even asked her not to give in when she would demand more. When Monroe was married to Miller he was available to monitor her intake and would lament that there was always another doctor available to help her into oblivion. Marilyn’s half sister has told of a visit to New York where the doctor would come by each evening with that night’s supply of meds. In the past there was frequently someone to oversee her daily supply of sleeping aids. It’s a reasonable assumption, especially given the many close calls Monroe experienced in her final years, that she would ask Newcomb to help her as well. As for Newcomb, if she was half the friend she always portrays herself to be, and if she had even a modicum of concern for her friend, it seems she would want to take precautions so Marilyn didn’t accidental overdose.

With all this in mind, a clearer picture of exactly what happened the night Marilyn died begins to emerge. I’m going to go out of my way in this book to provide a theory that gives Ms Newcomb the benefit of the doubt and present a scenario that’s an accident. I suggest that Newcomb, like Greenson, did not know about the Nembutal prescription that Engelberg gave Marilyn on Friday, August 3. Did Newcomb leave a massive dose of chloral hydrate not knowing about the 25 Nembutal? Was her intention just to assure Marilyn was asleep so she could come back and retrieve what RFK had been looking for earlier? Did that plan go terribly wrong? Maybe that’s why one of the first things she cried out to Murray when she arrived at Fifth Helena to find Marilyn dead was, “This would have never happened if I was here.”

There has always been a question as to whether Marilyn had 50 Nembutal capsules on hand the night she died or 25. The empty pill bottle on the nightstand at the side of her bed was for 25. It was Engelberg’s August 3, prescription. But it’s claimed she had received another prescription earlier in the week that was also for a quantity of 25. This has lead to a lot of confusion and that confusion has resulted in a vast and persistent over-estimation of the amount of Nembutal she consumed that evening. When estimates of the amount of Nembutal Marilyn had taken that night were made public the early reported amounts (based on newspaper articles) were between the mid-twenties and 47 pills. By far, the 47 number was the most published, and because it was in the headlines, came to be accepted. Was this a chemical analysis based on the amount found in Marilyn’s system or a guess based on how many she pills she had on hand? There’s reason to believe is was an estimation based on some faulty reasoning, all due to the confusion over this 25 vs 50 issue of the Nembutals. It seems the 50 number was the combination of the two prescriptions of 25 capsules. But one of those was earlier in the week. There is one account in the press that stated Monroe had the Nembutal prescription for three days. The dosage she was instructed to take was one per day. I think this could explain the faulty logic that was used to come up with the number 47. I believe they reasoned: she had a total quantity of 50 within the three days prior to her death. She took one per day. The bottle was found empty, therefore she took 47 on Saturday night. But that’s not the way it happened.

Over the years the suggested amount of pills Marilyn took on August 4, 1962 has steadily increased, all on the guess of some “expert.” It grew to an inflated amount of 60 something, and most recently, when a well known actor from the Law and Order TV series jumped into the fray with his book, the number of pills thought responsible for the Nembutal in Marilyn’s system had ballooned into the nineties. Some recent online estimates come in at over 1oo! This was all done to “prove” Marilyn didn’t die of an oral overdose of drugs, they reason the Nembutal had to be administered by another means, and that points to murder. The exact amount of Nembutal Marilyn took is crucial to understanding how she died. Fortunately, we now have estimates based on science to rely on. Dr Cyril Wecht is perhaps the most well known and respected forensic pathologist in America. He has consulted on many high-profile cases. In his book, Tales from the Morgue, he estimates Monroe took 5 chloral hydrates and between 12 and 24 Nembutals. He does say it was likely closer to 24, but even his upper range is lower than almost all previously published estimates.

So with that information established, let’s proceed.

It’s now mid-June. Marilyn has been fired. Greenson is back and recognizes the need to get Marilyn’s drug consumption under control. He coordinates with Engelberg over Marilyn’s drug regimen. Greenson gives his recommendations and wants to be notified whenever Engelberg prescribes Marilyn Nembutal, but basically he washes his hands of all responsibility and transfers all drug related duties to Engelberg. Both doctors know Marilyn is very adept at doctor shopping and can find a supply of pills in many places. So as Greenson’s wife explained they decided not to say no to her demands, as long as the goal of getting her to reduce her intake was still in effect.

In this scenario (which I will remind the reader is based on conjecture and supposition) neither Greenson or Engelberg are aware that Marilyn is not only self-medicating but, with help from Pat Newcomb, she’s self-prescribing. Also, neither Greenson or Engelberg have any idea she is still using chloral hydrate.

Fast forward to the week before Marilyn’s death. By mid-week, Marilyn has got the first prescription of Nembutal (25) and the first chloral hydrate prescription (50). Both of which Newcomb is aware of, holding for Marilyn, and doling out as needed. By Friday, Marilyn has the second chloral hydrate prescription, (in this hypothetical reconstruction Newcomb knows of this prescription) but on that day Monroe gets the second Nembutal (25) prescription from Engelberg, which she doesn’t disclose to Newcomb. Marilyn is probably stockpiling. She knows she is going to New York the next week and she probably uses this reasoning to get Engelberg to write the second prescription. Engelberg either forgets to inform Greenson or reasons the information can wait until the next week, when Marilyn had probably promised Engelberg she would be taking the pills.

Using some of the story lines established in Part I and by adding some new ones, we can finally make sense of what happens during Marilyn’s last 24 hours. Friday afternoon, before Pat even leaves the office, she has arranged with Marilyn to spend the weekend with her. By this point that was nothing unusual, but on this particular weekend it is imperative that she not only keep an eye on Marilyn, but do her best to talk Marilyn out of her continued attempts to speak with RFK. I believe she also felt it her “mission” to get Marilyn to give the photo that was taken at Cal-Neva back to Peter Lawford so it could be destroyed or delivered to the Kennedys. Rumors of this photo had reached the journalist Dorothy Kilgallen. It’s likely Kilgallen had only heard about the photo, as the only ones to see it at this point are Sinatra, Marilyn, Newcomb, Woodfield [the photographer who developed the photo], and Lawford. In this reconstruction Sinatra had given it to Lawford to show Marilyn as a wake up call, not to give it to her. She had snatched it out of his hands and refused to give it back. All this conjecture is based on the premise in Part I that contrary to what Woodfield had always stated, there was at least one photo that escaped destruction. It’s also possible all the photos were destroyed and that Marilyn had only heard about the photo but is using this information as a ruse to demand RFK come and speak with her. I maintain in all these scenarios that the fact that Marilyn wanted to speak with Bobby has nothing to do with an affair. This non-existent “affair” has always been the major smokescreen obscuring the real picture of what’s going on between the two of them.

Knowing how upset Marilyn was getting, Newcomb was probably giving Marilyn pills on an hour by hour basis, and had been for the past few days. This could explain the tremendous build up of Nembutal in Monroe’s liver. Marilyn gets angry with Pat the next morning (Saturday) because she probably felt Newcomb hadn’t given her enough meds to sleep through the night (on Friday night Marilyn had to dip into to the secret supply of Nembutal). Greenson arrives in the late afternoon to find Marilyn depressed and angry. He notices upon arrival that Marilyn is showing the effects of being sedated. Is he aware of the Nembutal she was given earlier in the week? If so, then he knows she should have at least a few left so he is reluctant to give her anymore. After a period of observation and consultation he reluctantly gives her a dose of liquid Nembutal that he had brought to calm her down. This could explain the confusion later in the evening when Joe Naar is called and asked to go check on Marilyn. Then a few minutes later he receives another call telling him not to bother because she was probably sleeping, he is told that Greenson had seen her and given her some medication.

Marilyn relies heavily on Greenson for advice and she has told him about Cal-Neva and the photo. He advises her to give the photo to Lawford and let RFK handle things. (This is why in his statements to police he says he advised Marilyn to take a drive to the beach, in other words, to Lawford’s house.)

Greenson takes some breaks during the hours he is with Marilyn. During one of those breaks he confers with Murray about spending the night. Newcomb uses that opportunity to slip into see Marilyn. Knowing Marilyn will be anxious about how she will sleep that night, Newcomb (hypothetically) promises Marilyn she will leave her some chloral hydrate so she can fall asleep that evening. In order to hide it from the snooping eyes of Mrs Murray, Newcomb conspires with Marilyn to dissolve the choral hydrate in a can of coke and leave it in the guest bedroom.

Once Greenson leaves, (Newcomb at this point is gone) Marilyn decides to call it a night. It’s been a terrible day and now all she wants to do is sleep. She takes a handful of Nembutal that she has told no one about, and goes to her room to lie down. She gets groggy and starts to fall asleep. She doesn’t hear the phone ring when Joe Jr calls, but Mrs Murray rouses her and she grabs one of the Cokes that Mrs Murray had bought earlier, then talks to young DiMaggio. Marilyn is an actress, she is more than capable of putting on a happy face. Marilyn is genuinely excited by the news that Joe’s son is not getting married. Between that and the sugar and caffeine rush from the Coke she is now wide awake again. After calling Greenson she decides to go outside and play with Maf. As the momentarily elation wears off she becomes more and more despondent. She begins to think of the days events. She just wants the day to end and to get some sleep. She returns to the guest bathroom, picking up the secret Nembutal stash and the drug cocktail that Newcomb had left behind. She downs the remaining Nembutal with the Coke laced with chloral hydrate. She retires to her room, telling Mrs Murray on the way that she has decided not to take a ride to the beach.

Was it an accident? Did Marilyn just want to assure that she would fall asleep? I still believe an accident is unlikely and even if it was a deliberate suicide, anyone who helped her in procuring the drugs that killed her would and should be charged with a crime. In this theory the persons intentions were not to kill Marilyn. To turn this into a cold-blooded, premeditated murder, only a few minor adjustments to this scenario are required.