Thursday 21 June 2018

Police probe if foul play was involved in Prince's death

Prince fans embrace by a makeshift memorial outside Paisley Park, the home of the singer, in Chanhassen, Minnesota (AP)
Prince fans embrace by a makeshift memorial outside Paisley Park, the home of the singer, in Chanhassen, Minnesota (AP)
Prince who has died at the age of 57.

Police are investigating whether foul play was involved in Prince's death after authorities revealed there was "no reason to believe" he killed himself.

The music superstar died at his Paisley Park estate near Minneapolis on Thursday after he was found collapsed in a lift. He was 57.

Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson said there were "no obvious signs of trauma" on Prince's body and it was "still under investigation" whether foul play was involved.

Speaking at a press conference at Carver County Courthouse in Chaska, Minnesota, Sheriff Olson refused to comment on reports that Prince had been taking a powerful painkiller before his death.

He said Prince was last seen at 8pm the night before his death when he was dropped off at Paisley Park.

The singer had been alone at the estate and staff members had been unable to reach him, the official added.

A post-mortem examination took place on Friday, where information about Prince's "medical and social history" was gathered, the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office said.

His body has been released to his family but a cause of death may not be made public for weeks, officials said.

Celebrity news website TMZ reported that Prince had overdosed on a painkiller called Percocet when his private jet made an emergency landing in Atlanta, Georgia, on April 15, six days before his death.

The star was taking the drug for a hip problem after having corrective surgery around six years ago, TMZ said.

A spokeswoman for the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office said it would not release information from the post-mortem examination until "all results are obtained" and the findings of a toxicology scan "could likely take weeks".

Prince was found collapsed in a lift by staff members, Sheriff Olson said.

"There were no obvious signs of trauma on the body at all," he said.

"We have no reason to believe at this point that this was a suicide."

Asked whether there was any reason to believe foul play was involved, Sheriff Olson said: "We have no reason to believe at this time it was a suicide, the rest of it is under investigation."

There had been no previous calls to the county sheriff involving Prince at Paisley Park in the last year, he added.

Three of Prince's employees were at the scene when police arrived, Sheriff Olson said.

He said Prince was "a very private person" and it would not be unusual that he would be alone.

It was under investigation whether criminal charges would be brought, the sheriff added.

He said: "A sign of trauma would some sign of violence or something violent had happened, there was no sign of that at all.

"We're going to leave no stone unturned with this and make sure the public know what happened."

A day after Prince was rushed to hospital on April 15, he hosted a dance party at Paisley Park, where fans said he "seemed happy" and appeared to look healthy.

Gretchen Richardson, 27, told the Press Association: "It was just a short appearance. He just said, 'Save your prayers for a couple of days. I'm OK. I'm here, thank you. I appreciate it'."

Jeremiah Freed, who also attended the event, said that Prince told the crowd: "Just wait a few days before saying your prayers."

Tributes have flooded in for the singer, whose full name was Prince Rogers Nelson.

US president Barack Obama described Prince as a "creative icon" and revealed he played two of his songs - Purple Rain and Delirious - to "get warmed up" before meeting Prime Minister David Cameron in London.

Madonna said Prince was a "true visionary" while Sir Elton John shared a picture of Prince on his Instagram page, writing: "The greatest performer I have ever seen."

Sales of Prince's music soared after news broke of the pop star's death and fans continued to leave floral tributes at Paisley Park many hours after it was announced.

Thousands of Prince fans also gathered at the club in Minneapolis where he filmed Purple Rain as the venue hosted a free all-night dance party in his honour. Two more similar events are planned at the venue over the weekend.

Press Association

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