Julia Roberts’ half sister, Nancy Motes, has died of an apparent drug overdose at 37

I just went through the twitter account and Instagram for Nancy Motes, and got very sad. Nancy was Julia Roberts’ half-sister on her mother’s side. She loved Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead, her dog, Christmas and her fiance. Nancy died on Sunday of an apparent drug overdose. She was found in a bathtub with various drugs nearby. Here’s a little on her death and the current investigation into how she died:

Julia Roberts’ half-sister was found dead Sunday in a bathtub at a Los Angeles home where she had been pet-sitting, and authorities discovered evidence of drug use.

Nancy Motes, 37, long struggled with being overweight, and had a rocky relationship with her Academy Award-winning sister…

Authorities were called to the Los Angeles home about 2 p.m. Sunday after Motes’ body was found by her fiancé John Dilbeck, a film and TV locations manager whom she was due to marry in May, a law enforcement source told the Daily News. The source added that investigators suspect a drug overdose, but that testing is needed to determine a cause of death.

Motes worked as a dog walker, and had been pet-sitting for the tenant of the home where she was found dead, the law enforcement source said.

Craig Harvey, chief of coroner investigations for Los Angeles County, told The News that Motes “was found in a bathtub that contained water. There were prescription and nonprescription drugs found at the scene. The role the drugs may or may not have played is not yet known.”

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday, but Harvey noted that additional toxicology tests would likely be needed to determine a cause of death.

The law enforcement source told The News that Motes did not leave a suicide note. “There was no evidence of foul play, no note, nothing like that,” the source said. “It’s too soon to say that it was a suicide.”

Motes, a Georgia native, was the daughter of Roberts’ mother, Betty Lou, and stepfather, Michael Motes. “The family is both shocked and devastated,” the Roberts clan said in a statement.

[From The NY Daily News]

Last month Nancy made some tweets in which she was complaining about her relationship with Julia, saying that “My ‘sister’ said that with all her friends & fans she doesn’t need anymore love. Just so you all know ‘America’s Sweetheart’ is a BITCH!!” Nancy, or someone close to her, has since deleted those tweets, but I found them on The NY Daily News. Nancy gave an interview last August, during which she revealed that she had undergone gastric bypass surgery in June 2010, that she had been nearly 300 pounds prior to that, and that as a teen she felt ostracized by Julia for her weight.

So not only did Nancy die tragically, she died at a time when she was estranged from Julia, which is doubly sad. I don’t blame Julia for any of this. We don’t know the other side of the story. Family sh*t is complicated, and Nancy had given interviews in which she talked smack about Julia. We don’t know their history or what went on behind closed doors. We just know that a lady died well before her time, that it looks like an accident, and that she didn’t get along with her famous half-sister. Julia has since canceled a scheduled appearance on Jimmy Kimmel and did not attend the Oscar luncheon yesterday as planned. Our thoughts go out to Nancy’s family.

Nancy Motes with her fiance

The 20th Annual Screen Actors Guild Awards Arrivals in LA

You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

61 Responses to “Julia Roberts’ half sister, Nancy Motes, has died of an apparent drug overdose at 37”

Comments are Closed

We close comments on older posts to fight comment spam.

  1. truthful says:


    I’ve been waiting for CB to cover this, how sad.
    She’s had a rough go of it, from early years.

  2. Kiddo says:

    Sad, all around. I’m throwing no shade at anyone. Condolences to the family.

  3. Aims says:

    Well I think Julia is an ice queen. I doubt she’ll learn anything from this tragedy.

    • CaribbeanLaura says:

      I don’t think that it matters whether or not Julia will learn anything. I think what matters is that a woman has died in the prime of her life and that is always extremely sad. Condolences to her fiance and all her family and friends.

    • tifzlan says:

      That’s a little harsh, don’t you think? Maybe this will shock her into reconciling with her family. Sometimes, death has that effect and other times, the opposite.

      • Sullivan says:

        It is very hard to have anything close to a healthy relationship with a sibling who’s a drug addict. It can get to the point where you have to remove yourself from that person’s life. It’s not an easy decision to make. If/when the drug addicted sibling dies as a result of the disease it’s terribly sad, but it isn’t a reason to regret the decision.

      • FLORC says:

        Doesn’t seem harsh to me. Seems like an opinion.

        And let’s not make this about Julia. The 2 sisters (as far as we know) were not speaking to eachother and likely not on good terms. Loss still hurts even if we don’t know or like the person.
        Her poor finace and family…

        The crabby pants in me thinks Julia might make this about her later on anyways…
        That’s when we can get mad at her.

      • tifzlan says:

        @FLORC That’s what i mean. Julia hasn’t said anything so far, so why are we dragging her into this? I don’t like her as much as you guys, but Julia isn’t to blame for this.

        @Sullivan I understand what you mean by that. Thank you.

      • Original N says:

        @Sullivan – from my personal experience, your analysis is very accurate. If you have also dealt with an addict sibling/loved one, my heart goes out to you. It is an extremely difficult situation to be in…

      • JojoAnn says:

        I’m sure Julia is abit of a diva but honestly her siblings are/were a mess. Eric was a heavy drug user and abusive too and Nancy was a user who seemed to make her money by variously leaching of her sis and selling smack down interviews. I would distance myself too from that lot. Sad news that Nancy never got the drugginh under control but even sadder that she never found herself and was still twitting about a sister who was happily living her own life . The tragedy here is that Nancy went to her grave bitter.

      • Katherine says:

        Are we forgetting that Julia herself was rumored to be so messed up using heroin during the making of Hook. The entire family has its issues with substance abuse and it may very well stem partially from their upbringing. I’m not discounting genetic predisposition either.

        If this involves illegal drugs I wonder if the police will do a full out investigation into how this happened as they did with the death of Phil Hoffman?

      • mayamae says:

        @Katherine, is that why Spielberg supposedly said he would never work with her again? I’ve always wondered about that.

        Regarding an investigation – My 23 year old cousin tried heroin for the first time last year and allowed herself to be shot up by habitual users. Her sister found her and the other two the next morning – only Abbey was dead. The police investigated in depth and even arrested the couple. They were in jail still last I heard. Abbey had struggled for years with Bipolar and had dabbled in other drugs, but I don’t think she would have tried heroin without the “expertise” of her new friends.

    • Liv says:

      I think Julia’s a bitch, but for some other reason. The fact that she canceled the Oscar luncheon speaks in her favor though, she obviously cared about her sister, at least slightly.

      • Tiffany says:

        Liv, I would think that the case but I believe she did it so she would not take a hit in the press. Its all about Julia and her image.

      • Liv says:

        I thought of that too, maybe you’re right and she doesn’t want to face backlash. But then she would probably just cancel the appearance on Kimmel and go to the luncheon. Who knows. I don’t think highly of her, but I’m willing to believe that she grieves in a way.

    • Lucinda says:

      I’ve thought for a long time that Julia but was a bitch, but on this one, I’ll give her a pass and my sympathy. Deal with addicts is ugly and painful and hard. I bought her sister’s stories but now believe there was probably a lot of manipulation going on there. Not because I believe Nancy to be a bad person but there is a pattern with addicts and non-addicts don’t generally OD in their bathroom. Sad all around.

      • mayamae says:

        I strongly dislike Julia, but I give her some slack here too. If Nancy had a long term drug history (which I don’t know), Julia has shown some restraint by not just dismissing her in the press by calling her a drug addict.

    • K-MAC says:

      Whether Julia Roberts is an ice queen or not has nothing to do with her half-sister being an addict, two completely different things and we know noting about their family history. Julia doesn’t need a “lesson” from this nor does anyone need to “reconcile.” Families are extremely difficult and now they have to death with this massive loss. The aftermath of this event will reveal itself in time. For now, they need time grieve.

      • Aims says:

        I in no way am blaming Julia for her sister’s addiction and mental health problems. I do feel that when her sister was alive, she could gad been kinder to her.

  4. Delorb says:

    Julia is such white trash, but in no way is this her fault.

  5. dizzylucy says:

    A very sad story. It seems like she struggled through a lot of her life, and there were/are so many difficulties in the family.

  6. Renee28 says:

    I don’t blame Julia. We don’t know why they were estranged. Being rich and famous doesn’t shield you from family drama.

    • Shantal says:

      I thought they were estranged because Julia refused to pay for her wedding to some guy who worked at Panda Express.

      • Lucky Charm says:

        That’s a bizarre reason to not speak to each other! I never heard about that. Frankly no one is obliigated to pay for someone else’s wedding. It’s nice if they have the money and offer to, but to expect your sibling or another relative to do so just because they are rich and famous is a little selfish & greedy on your own part.

  7. Dani says:

    I read on another site comments like how it’s Julia’s fault for her death and she’s the reason she overdosed etc. and I actually can’t believe people would say that. Nancy has a history of bashing Julia openly and throwing shade in subtle ways, whether it was in interviews or tweets. I don’t think Julia deserves any harsh treatment (and I’m in no way a Julia apologist – girl would benefit from being a bit nicer) and I think people need to let Nancy rest peacefully and remember her in better ways.

  8. lizzy says:

    It sounds like her and julia were never close.
    I have a estranged half sibling and I wouldn’t be that devastated.
    Julia probably really wanted to go to the oscar luncheon and couldn’t because a basic stranger to her died and she had to think of her PR.

    • FLORC says:

      While I pretty much agree, I have to ask… How many of us here and possibly you teared up when we read that PSH died? Or Corey M. Or Nelson M. We were not close with any of them and may have disliked them for whatever tiny reason (like they wore a bad outfit). You can still be sad if a stranger, your worst enemy, or someone closer dies.

      And Julia does know what to do for good pr, but I doubt that’s her whole reason for not going. Calling family she hasn’t spoken to in forever and making arrangements seems viable.

      • Latisse says:

        The problem is that PSH contributed something to society at large, so did Nelson Mandela, so did Corey Monteith. All this woman is known for is throwing public shade at a famous sibling who at one point had gotten her a job.

        Julia Roberts is nasty piece of work, but from reading this lady’s tweets leading up to her death on the NYDaily site, it seems like she had some issues too. Just because someone passes away does not automatically make them a martyr.

  9. Zigggy says:

    She “struggled with being overweight”? Kind of a weird thing to say after someone dies? Or, no?

    • BreeinSEA says:

      Yeah I find that sad that this is what she will be known for. At least to the general public.

    • Irishserra says:

      Not really. Her battle was a public one. Whenever I heard the name Nancy Motes I automatically thought about her struggles with her weight as well as her feud with her famous sister. I would never have known who she was otherwise.

    • Original N says:

      Addiction is addiction, whether it be to food, drugs, alcohol, exercise, etc., with regard to the fact that for an addict, the object of that addiction comes first. The author may have mentioned her weight loss to imply that Nancy transferred her food addiction to drugs or perhaps started using drugs to assist with weight loss. I do not know – just a theory…

  10. Delilah says:

    RIP Nancy Motes. I remember the story of estrangement somewhere last year – probably on CB. I had mixed feelings. On one hand I thought it was uncouth for Nancy to shade Julia especially since allegedly inspite of their complicated relationship, Julia helped her get work as a production assistant – or so I read. It can’t be easy to live in any one’s shadow, but I don’t think people with healthy self esteem ever do. I also remember a link about other celebs and their less hot siblings was featured in the same article to sorta drive the point home that Nancy is not a unique situation. I hope I didn’t hallucinate all of this. But, regardless those are the main points I recall. That, and the fact the Nancy claimed julia was cruel to her about her weight. I don’t recall a response from Julia. But it is sad Nancy has died in the prime of her life. She looks happy in her pictures with her fiancé. I hope he has the comfort he needs. My hearts goes out to all her loved ones. Hope she rests in eternal love and peace now.

  11. Sixer says:

    I was just thinking, for all the stuff said about out of control celebs such as Baby Bieber and Mardy Cyrus and for all the general impression of the hedonism of drugs, most addicts die alone and in degrading solitude too, in a bathroom or a toilet, in their underwear, far from any party or “good time”.

    It’s just awfully, awfully sad. It makes me feel all small inside.

  12. Latisse says:

    Do you know what? I’m the first person to say that Julia Roberts is a massive C U Next Tuesday. But for this, she is blameless. I remember a couple months back Nancy gave an interview about how Julia bullied her about her weight etc. which is wrong, but as an addendum to the story it was briefly added that Julia had gotten her a job as a production assistant on Glee.

    Now, Julia did not have to do that. Not at all. But the fact that she did and Nancy was STILL talking smack made me wonder: what exactly was it that Nancy wanted from Julia Roberts? And why did she feel entitled to get anything other than a job that most people would be very happy to have?

    It is a very sad sad thing what has happened but I think it would be totally unfair to blame any part of it on Julia.

  13. T.Fanty says:

    I can imagine that it’s hard for anyone to be the sister of Julia Roberts. Especially if she is also an actress. Whether Julia is as vile as everyone says, is irrelevant – that’s one hell of a shadow to live under.

    • Cel says:

      I understand what you’re saying, but she didn’t have to point out that Julia was her sister. They don’t look alike or share the same surname. It would have come out at some stage, but that could have been after Nancy had proven herself. What I have previously read about Nancy, she seemed to expect Julia to boost/start her career by getting her parts, instead of getting there on her own merit.

  14. Suze says:

    I’m so sorry for her family and for the pain she obviously suffered. It is a sad story, no matter how you look at it.

  15. Tulip Garden says:

    Just wanted to say that whoever posted this article was very respectful of Nancy, Julia and the extended family. That was appropriate, refreshing, and just genuinely nice.

  16. JenniferJustice says:

    It’s really not cool to throw any shade Julia’s way. We don’t know what their relationship was other than personal and a family one. It doesn’t matter if they were estranged either. Death still affects the family and not only every individual in it, but possibly worse for those who hadn’t mended differences with her. My old boyfriend died last month. He was a total jerk to me and I’m forever grateful I got away when I did and I haven’t seen him since – 20 years. But finding out he died brought back alot of memories, anger, but mostly sadness for a life wasted and lost and so unneccessary. I can’t judge anybody on the death of a family member or anybody they grew up with or had a close relationship with even if only for a little while. Death is final and it hurts.

  17. original kay says:

    My mother is a prescription drug addict, and she abuses in cycles. after 5 years I know the signs and know when I have to step back. she comes around and I can be with her.
    but in her drug times, there is nothing I can do. I have tried, been used and abused and I can’t help her anymore.
    I can have a relationship with her when she cycles out, but not during. It’s just a fact of life now.

    So I give Julia a huge pass for not being close to her half sister. God only knows what happened between the 2 of them.

    Also, one person’s bullying (about weight) is not necessarily actual bullying. This may make me very unpopular, but I feel this woman, Nancy, was looking for a free ride and Julia said no. More power to Julia, imo.

    • Tig says:

      You have my sympathy- and folks that have never had to deal with a loved one’s addiction or mental illness have no concept over how exhausting and soul-sapping it can be. This reality is why I am willing to give Julia R the benefit of the doubt here.

      • original kay says:

        thank you 🙂

        the worst part is the judging by family that don’t know. they don’t know about he overdosing and being at the hospital (and they sent her home). they don’t know the fear of finding her dead.
        so they tellme I over react **sigh**

  18. Christin says:

    This is sad in so many ways. Family relationships can be very complicated. Obviously there may have been more layers to this situation than first realized.

    Some reports within the last year or so claimed Nancy was their mother’s caregiver. I’m sure she is devastated.

    • mayamae says:

      I read an unauthorized biography on Julia Roberts a long time ago. The author was pretty rough on Julia and her mother. Basically, the story was the mother used and discarded Julia’s father and then moved on to the next guy. Supposedly, a lot of the discord in the family was differing opinions on the mom’s behavior – Eric disapproved, and Julia didn’t have a problem with it. Additionally, the author all but called the new husband (Nancy’s father) a child molester and cast shade on their mom for exposing her children to this man. If even part of this is true, what a turbulent atmosphere for all three of them to grow up in. It left me with a bad taste in my mouth for the mother, and maybe a little understanding about Julia’s relationships with the men in her life.

  19. nicegirl says:

    My heart goes out to her fiance, family and friends.

  20. Ruth Leslie says:

    Julia Roberts is beautiful but ruthless. She stole her husband from another woman who was married to him at the time. It appears she refused to help her half sibling find success in Hollywood. I bet Julia’s rejection played a part in the drug overdose of her half sister. Sad story.

  21. Charlene Miller says:

    Julia is known for taking what she. Wants. Ie her current husband. She looks like a bitch to me i dont feel sorry. For julia. But i do for nancy. To much that are given much is expected. We.Only hear. About. What julia has or wants never any Good. She does i believe she is selfish. Never works for charity anywhere. Only.
    Mememe. I never liked or ttrusted her

  22. Christin says:

    A rep from the coroner’s office says that the cause of death is currently inconclusive. He went on to say that given her medical history, it could be some other type of issue. Nothing is official until toxicology test results are completed, which may take up to eight weeks. There seems to be no confirmation that any drugs found were hers. She was reportedly not at her own home.

    So with all these unknowns, the family statement quoted by seceral sources included a reference to an apparent overdose, which I personally find unusual. Why would a family wish to include the suspected manner of death before an autopsy is conducted? Even though the official cause may bear out that assumption, I think it is odd to do that.

    • Christin says:

      Edit: ‘several’ sources

    • lunchcoma says:

      Honestly, I don’t think it’s as suspicious as it sounds. People who die by suicide and their families are still stigmatized, and older relatives in particular may have religious beliefs surrounding it. Disclosing an accidental drug overdose is often done out of a desire to emphasize the accidental part of the phrase rather than the method of death.

      (Just to be clear: I think that it’s unfortunate families feel this urge. I’m just recognizing that the behavior exists.)

      • Christin says:

        That is certainly a plausible theory. I just don’t recall that being typical of a (famous) family press release. I do wonder what (if anything) Nancy meant in one of her tweets. It sounded as though she might be ready to spill something once again. Or it just could have been ramblings for attention.

        Having lost a relative due to addiction (which was the contributing cause), I have a lot of mixed reactions. The family can end up being victimized in a way when the addict will blame anyone but themselves. Then I read a couple of articles again and realized it is still unclear whether she was really an addict. This may not have been a long-term issue.

  23. Jessica says:

    “had been pet-sitting for the tenant of the home where she was found dead”

    So she was doing drugs and died in SOMEONE ELSE’S bathtub?!? If someone did drugs and then overdosed in MY house I’d be PISSED.

    • Anon2 says:

      Me too. I’d call that damn selfish and I’d also say that this gal called everyone out BUT herself. It is easy to throw shade and cast blame on anyone, blame them for your unhappiness. What did you do to make yourself better and happy? A lot of us have been through bad times, horrible childhoods and at some point, one realizes—it is our problem to fix. Why would Julia want to help this woman? Look how she speaks of her on twitter and to name her when she knew it would go public, kill herself in someone’s else home…where they will always know that. Selfish.

    • Nina W says:

      We don’t know the cause of death yet. Also I have heard of many people dying after dramatic weight loss and I would consider that a possibility as well. If she had a drug problem an overdose would seem likely.