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Truth Deficit: Five Unanswered Questions About Prince's Death

Three weeks after Prince's death on April 21, we still don't know what killed him, except that prescription painkillers might have...

Three weeks after Prince's death on April 21, we still don't know what killed him, except that prescription painkillers might have played a role.

The Carver County Sheriff's Department has told USA TODAY that Prince's autopsy report would not be ready Friday, nor do they expect to release it next week.

The autopsy was carried out at the Midwest Medical Examiner's Office on Friday, April 22, with blood, urine and tissue samples being collected before his cremation that weekend.

We know the investigation is ongoing and agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency have joined it. We know that a last-minute effort to save Prince from a "grave medical emergency" failed.
So Many Unanswered Questions 

We know his estate is unsettled, the number of heirs is unclear and that it could take months — or years— to sort it out.

Besides the obvious questions, there are some mysteries about the circumstances of his sudden demise that especially nag.

He left no will? Really?
On April 26, Prince's younger sister filed documents in Carver County, Minn., probate court stating that he left no will. In lieu of an executor, his bank, Bremer Trust, has been appointed to serve as special administrator of the estate for six months or until another caretaker is named.

But many people, especially estate lawyers and those close to Prince, are still expressing disbelief that someone who went out of his way to exert maximum control over his musical legacy would neglect to draw up a will stating his wishes about what to do with his millions in the event of his death.

No way, many believe, especially as it's becoming clearer that the probate struggle over Prince's estate by his heirs and would-be heirs looks likely to be nasty, brutish and lengthy. (Genetic testing has already been authorized for Prince's blood for the purpose of sorting out paternity claims.)

Even though the court is proceeding on the premise that there is no estate plan, get ready for the spawning of "where's-the-will?" theories.

What was the "grave medical emergency"?

The lawyer for Prince's California opiate-addiction specialist, called in to treat Prince the day before his April 21 death, claimed a member of Prince's staff called Dr. Howard Kornfeld and declared Prince in the throes of a "grave medical emergency."

What does that mean? Kornfeld and his lawyer, William Mauzy, have declined to explain. The autopsy results are still pending. And the Carver County Sheriff's Office investigating the death isn't saying.

Why was Prince alone the night before his death?
For many fans, it's one of the most heart-rending aspects of Prince's tragedy: He was alone when he died.

A rich and famous superstar musician, a man beloved around the world, with many close friends and a full staff? If he was suffering from a "grave medical emergency," why was he left alone at all?

Investigators have said a Prince "acquaintance" dropped him off at Paisley Park the night before his death, following a visit to a pharmacy, according to a paparazzi picture published by TMZ. It was the last time Prince was seen alive; he wasn't found until the next morning.

Why did Prince consult a local doctor who specialised in family medicine and obstetrics?
Reaching out to opiate-addiction specialist Kornfeld makes sense. Reaching out to Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg, not so much.

Schulenberg, who turned up at Paisley Park bearing medical test results the morning Prince was found dead, told investigators he had treated Prince on April 7 and April 20 and prescribed him medications to be filled at Walgreen's.

What did he treat him for? Which medications did he prescribe? He didn't say and can't be reached to explain. But he was no expert on addiction to powerful painkillers, a possible cause of Prince's death now being explored by the sheriff's investigators and the DEA.

Instead, Schulenberg was an ordinary GP who described himself in a (now-removed) YouTube video in 2012 as a father of five and full-time family physician who mostly delivered babies.

How many doctors did Prince have immediately before his death?
In addition to Kornfeld and Schulenberg, two other unnamed doctors might have been involved with Prince. Kornfeld's lawyer said he had arranged for Prince to consult a local addiction specialist but the singer died before the appointment.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune, citing a source with knowledge of the investigation, reported that Prince had been receiving treatment for withdrawal symptoms from a doctor who previously worked with his longtime friend Kirk Johnson.

Were these the same doctors or different doctors? And with so many medical professionals attending to him, how could Prince end up dead?

This much is clear: Questions about his death and estate will persist for many more weeks, if not months or years. - The Associated Press

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