Friends say they saw Heath Ledger’s death coming (Update)

Actor Heath Ledger was found dead in his SoHo apartment at 3:26 this afternoon. Heath was 28. His housekeeper let a masseuse into the apartment for an appointment. When Heath didn’t answer a knock at the door, both women entered and found his body. They tried to wake him, then called 911. A bottle of pills was found near his body. Police say no foul play was involved. There is some speculation that the overdose was intentional.

Heath Ledger was found dead at his Manhattan residence, a police spokesman confirms to the Associated Press. He was 28. Police say the death may be drug-related. The NYPD spokesman tells AP that Ledger had a massage appointment at his Soho apartment. When the housekeeper went to alert Ledger the masseuse was there, she found him at around 3:26 p.m.

He did not respond when they shook him, and the housekeeper called 911, The New York Times reports. He was pronounced dead at 3:45 p.m. Authorities later said they did not suspect foul play but that pills were found near the body.

[From People]

An NYPD rep has said that the apartment Heath was renting is actually owned by Mary-Kate Olsen, and that Heath was subletting it from her. However Mary-Kate’s rep has said that the apartment isn’t hers, and she’s never lived in the building. It’s certainly not the most important detail of the story, but it is an unconfirmed point.

Heath broke up with actress Michelle Williams in September. They have a 2-year-old daughter named Matilda. Heath and Michelle were very private, and managed to keep a pretty low profile living in the Park Slope area of Brooklyn. Heath had several run-ins with the Australian paparazzi, which really upset him, and reportedly contributed to his decision to move to the U.S. Because he and Michelle were notoriously media shy, no one really knew why the pair broke up. But it appears that Heath has had a history of addiction, and was really struggling in his battle against it. One of Heath’s friends has noted that things had been really tough with his sobriety over the last year, enough so that many of his friends feared he would die.

News of Heath Ledger’s death has shaken friends of the actor. “This is terrible and I’m in shock,” a close friend of Ledger’s tells “But to tell you the truth… we saw it coming. Heath has gone though a rough road of trying to get sober,” the source tells Us.

“Things were very dark,” the source says. “His one joy was Matilda.” Matilda is his 2-year-old daughter with ex-wife Michelle Williams. They split in September. “Everything else was misery for him,” adds the source. “Unfortunately he was too late in getting help.”

[From Us Weekly]

The New York Times has a police source that says most signs point to a suicide. Police spokeswoman Barbara Chen said the medicine found near Ledger’s body appeared to be over-the-counter sleeping pills. Courtney Hazlett, who writes MSNBC’s “The Scoop, said, “In a lot of ways, this reminds me — we’ve almost had a dress rehearsal for this with Owen Wilson.” I hate to speculate, but given what’s been reported, it seems likely that Ledger killed himself. Though a lot of people assumed Anna Nicole Smith had killed herself, and it ended up being ruled accidental. Ledger’s autopsy is scheduled for tomorrow. We’ll update you as further information comes available.

Update: It’s now being reported that there were two bottles of medication found near Ledger’s body: one an over the counter sleeping aid, and the other a prescription. Due to HIPAA laws, no information has been released about the prescription or what Ledger may have been taking it for. A commentator on Headline News (whose name I didn’t catch) said that he’d interviewed Heath Ledger several times over the years, including “recently.” He said that while Heath had always been a bit of a “social misfit,” he seemed especially out of it the last time the two spoke. He also described Heath’s behavior as nervous and jumpy. He said that he believed it’s possible that Heath accidentally overdosed. He noted that Heath had been very “honest with the press” recently in discussing his battle with insomnia, and that he’d taken Ambien and other sleep aids. The commentator pointed out that – considering one of the pills was an OTC sleep aid – it is possible that Heath accidentally overdosed. He also said that, as an actor, he would have at least expected Heath to “stage” his death, instead of being found naked with pills everywhere. This is just one person’s speculation, but he does make a valid point.

Picture note by Jaybird: Here’s Heath Ledger sporting a beard, on the set of his new film ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus’ in London on Friday. Images thanks to PR Photos.

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