Blonde Ambition

The Untold Story Behind Anna Nicole Smith's Death


By Rita Cosby

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She was famous for being famous-Americana at its Scarlet Letter-wearing best. A bodacious young girl from Texas, Anna remade herself into the centerfold of the world. She was a “dumb blonde,” a stripper, a Playboy Playmate, who boldly took her case against her billionaire husband’s family all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. Her tragic life and untimely death evoke an odd mix of fascination, shock, and dismay. And through it all, there still exists a voracious thirst to discover more about who she actually was…and how she really died.

In a book that is sure to surprise even the most avid pop culture junkies, Rita Cosby blows the lid off this astounding story. After an in-depth investigation, this is the definitive journalistic account of the Anna Nicole Smith saga-with unearthed secrets and explosive, never-before-told information.



Copyright © 2007 by Rita Cosby

All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the publisher.

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First eBook Edition: March 2010

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ISBN: 978-0-446-40626-0


Timing Is Everything

JUST AFTER 1 P.M. ON FEBRUARY 8, 2007, BRIGITTE NEVEN NOticed that Anna Nicole Smith's chest wasn't rising and falling like a normal sleeping person. Something wasn't right. In fact, something was terribly wrong, which Brigitte soon realized when she tried to shut Anna's agape jaw and it wouldn't close. It was stiff.

Brigitte Neven is, in fact, the woman who actually found Anna Nicole Smith's lifeless body. The story you might have heard was that she was discovered unconscious by her "private nurse." Brigitte is not a nurse. There was a nurse in the room, Tasma Brighthaupt, wife of Anna's bodyguard, Maurice "Big Moe" Brighthaupt, but "Tas" was at the foot of Anna's king size bed, intently working on her computer, unaware of the deadly silence lying in the bed behind her. This day, like many in the previous few months in the life of the woman who was famous for being famous, would be spent in bed.

Anna Nicole Smith had a routine: she would start her day with a shot around 9 a.m. of "longevity drugs"—a varying combination of vitamin B12, immunoglobulins, and human growth hormone. The combination of drugs is said to maintain energy, decrease body fat and improve mood and motivation. She'd then go back to bed and sleep into the afternoon, wake up, eat something, drink something, take something, watch a little TV, and sleep some more. Then, repeat. The last few years, and in particular the last few months since the death of her beloved son Daniel, her life was an endless cycle of depression and sadness, blurred and numbed by a dangerous combination of drugs and alcohol.

But this day was unlike the others. Something had happened. Something had pushed the voluptuous beauty over the edge. And now she was free-falling from the living to the dead.

Three days earlier, Monday, February 5

In advance of Anna and Howard's arrival in Florida, Moe received several packages in the mail addressed to Howard as he had on other occasions when Anna and Howard were expected. Private investigators hired by an interested party told me that Moe said he received the packages at his house, addressed from the husband of Anna's friend/psychiatrist Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, who was traveling with Anna from the Bahamas. Moe noted that labels on the boxes indicated they came from a pharmacy, and on Monday night, he gave the packages to Howard at the Hard Rock.

That morning, before their trip to Florida, Anna had started the day with a dance lesson in the Bahamas to prepare for an upcoming event and music video for TrimSpa, the diet supplement for which she was the paid spokesmodel. Anna called Mrs. Gerlene Gibson, the go-to woman in the Bahamas if you're a celebrity and have babysitting needs. She asked her to come to the house and take care of five-month-old Dannielynn for a few days. Gerlene Gibson is the mother of Shane Gibson, the Bahamian Minister of Immigration, who had helped Anna secure her permanent residency in the Bahamas.

After hugging Mrs. Gibson and kissing Dannielynn goodbye, Anna was driven to the airport and boarded an afternoon flight to Florida, along with Dr. Khristine Eroshevich and Howard K. Stern, her lawyer and the man publicly claiming to be the father of her newborn. According to statements taken by Broward County medical examiner, Dr. Joshua Perper, Anna was upbeat and feeling well, looking forward to shopping for a few days in Florida before picking up a newly purchased boat and returning to the Bahamas later in the week.

Anna began to complain about pain in her left buttock during the flight to Florida. The spot was tender from one of her daily injections. Since Anna's pain was in her left buttock and Anna was right-handed, it would be highly unlikely and extremely difficult for her to have given herself the shot. But later, when asked by Dr. Perper, neither Howard Stern nor Dr. Eroshevich would admit giving it to her. And Dr. Perper wouldn't ask twice.

•   •   •

During the limousine ride from the Miami International Airport, Anna complained of feeling cold and of increasing buttock pain. By the time they arrived at the Hard Rock Hotel, Anna was woozy.

She had been to the Hard Rock the month before, in January 2007, when she made her first high profile public appearance since her son's death. Anna had put on her celebrity face, shaded seductively in over-sized, high-glam sunglasses, and joined the star-studded crowd for a Don King produced boxing match, televised live on Showtime. Seated near ringside at the Hard Rock, with other notables such as wrestling star Hulk Hogan, actor Mickey Rourke, and hoops legend Shaquille O'Neal, Anna took in the fight while companion Howard K. Stern snapped shots on his ever-present digital camera. Besides new blonde extensions, zinged with pink highlights, Anna wore a slinky beaded black top, which showcased her voluptuous figure and shoulder tattoo.

Since shooting a commercial at the Hard Rock Hotel for the TrimSpa Million Dollar Makeover Challenge, Anna was a celebrity "regular" at the hotel, which meant her $1600 a night suite was often compliments of the house. In the commercial, she had jiggled left and right in front of the Hard Rock sign while cooing such lines as "Want to step into my reality?" and "Like my body?" Ending, of course, with her unforgettable hustle "TrimSpa, baby!"

While everyone might not be an Anna Nicole fan, one thing everyone agreed upon was that Anna Nicole Smith knew how to get noticed.

But what hotel guests noticed on that clear Monday night in February, as she arrived with Howard and Dr. Khris, was that she couldn't even get her foot out of the limo. She got stuck, and Howard had to physically help her out and then assist her upstairs. "She's been at the hotel a number of times," a hotel employee told me, "but this time was different. She was spacey, unusually weird."

She and Howard checked in at 8:10 p.m. under "Fred and Wilma Flintstone," their usual not-so-discrete codeword for "I'm-a-celebrity." Hotel employees said Howard kept her from talking to people and told everyone she had the flu. They went up to room 607, accompanied by Dr. Khris, and another male. Anna's "Florida person," bodyguard "Big Moe" Brighthaupt, joined them later. He brought with him the packages he received from his house, which, according to statements he provided to private investigators, he soon learned contained prescriptions that Howard K. Stern was expecting for their stay in Florida.

Room 607, known as a "Fillmore Suite," is the second door on the left off the elevators, right past the display of Tori Amos memorabilia in the hotel's south tower. Room 607 has one bedroom, a living room area, and one and a half baths. In total, 750 square feet. They also had the room next door, room 609, connected to 607 by a door that locks on both sides. Room 609 is a "deluxe room" with two beds.

Hotel workers say Anna and Howard often partied in their room during prior visits with what they believe was cocaine and that both were often heard sniffling and cleaning up "stuff" around the room when hotel staff came in, while others saw white powder on the counters. But this week was different. After check-in, room 607 went into lockdown. Bellhops, housekeeping, and room service were all met at the door. Hotel employees were not allowed into the room. Period. Once Anna was carried over the threshold of room 607 that Monday night, she wasn't seen again in public until she was wheeled out on a gurney.

•   •   •

When Anna got into the room, she was very sick and shivering uncontrollably. Dr. Khris called the hotel staff and asked them to order a prescription for ten 75 mg capsules of Tamiflu (an antiviral agent) and Ciprofloxacin (a potent antibiotic, prescribed as an antidote during the anthrax scare shortly after 9/11). Although Dr. Khris told hotel employees that she had been Anna's "personal nurse" for years, she said that she wasn't able to prescribe in the United States. At first, she requested that the hotel's doctor write the prescription that she felt Anna needed—a strange request given the fact that she had been prescribing medications to Anna for years from various American pharmacies. Eventually, both prescriptions were called in to the local Walgreens Pharmacy using Dr. Khris' name as the doctor, but the medications weren't listed under the name Anna Nicole Smith. Instead, the medications were prescribed for "Alex Katz," a non-hotel guest.

Alex Katz, a 60-year-old south Floridian businessman, whom I later learned to be a friend of Dr. Khris's, was with them that night and actually picked up at least one prescription, while a hotel concierge picked up a thermometer. Normally, the concierge can pick up prescriptions, but in this case, Anna's party insisted on getting the prescription themselves. When I contacted Alex Katz, he confirmed his friendship with Dr. Khris, but quickly told me, "I don't want to talk about that night" and hung up. A source close to the investigation says Katz later refused to talk to Seminole Police and "lawyered up and shut up quickly."

That night was apparently messy. According to Anna's bodyguard Moe's early interviews with news media, he said that he took Anna's temperature and when it registered a startling 105 degrees, he told her she needed to go to the hospital. Moe, a trained paramedic, threatened Anna that he was going to call an ambulance. He said in a February 26, 2007, interview broadcast on Greta Van Susteren's Fox News television show that he told Anna that her decision not to go to the hospital was unacceptable. "You can get upset with me and we don't talk for a week if you want. That's fine," he told the shivering beauty. "But my goal is to make sure you're healthy."

Moe has said privately that surprisingly no one else was really pushing Anna to go to the hospital, especially Dr. Khris. "It wasn't like she was discouraging her," he noted, "but she was definitely not encouraging her." Moe thought this was highly unusual for someone with a medical background, even though she, like him, wasn't there for the paycheck. He made note that neither he nor Dr. Khris was serving in a paid capacity.

Apparently, none of them wanted to argue with Anna to make her go to the hospital, not her medically trained friends or her live-in lawyer Howard K. Stern. Howard said in a statement his attorneys released shortly after Anna's death that he thought Anna would be alive today if she hadn't refused medical help. He said that he had urged Anna to check into a hospital after her spike in temperature, but that she refused because "she did not want the media frenzy that follows her."

So, Anna didn't go to the hospital; instead, Moe claims he picked her up and put her naked body into the deep whirlpool tub of the master-bathroom. It was filled with ice cubes and cold water. Anna's fever broke, dropping a dramatic eight degrees. The medical examiner questioned Dr. Khris, but didn't ask who specifically gave her the medications, or why Anna was given two tablespoons of chloral hydrate, a potent 19th century sleep aid, even though the recommended dosage is two teaspoons. Interestingly, chloral hydrate was a contributing factor to both Anna's demise as well as the death of her idol, Marilyn Monroe.

Anna Nicole Smith fell asleep on the first night of her last week alive around 10 p.m.

Tuesday, February 6

Anna Nicole awoke the following morning with a temperature of 100 degrees and was vomiting and had diarrhea. The medical examiner's office would later report that throughout the day on Tuesday she did not urinate and had a "pungent" odor. She did, however, feel good enough to watch television, an encouraging sign to Howard, Dr. Khris, and Moe. In the afternoon, under the supervision of Dr. Khris, she took a bath and drank various fluids including Fiji water, chamomile tea, and Pedialyte, a formula typically used for infants to prevent dehydration. The medical examiner's report also says she "was given" chloral hydrate and slept for two hours. When she awoke, she watched television until 11 p.m. at which time "she took" another unusually large dose of chloral hydrate and went to sleep. There is no explanation in the report as to why Anna was first routinely "given" the chloral hydrate and then suddenly "took" it herself as the week went on.

Wednesday, February 7

Howard, Khris, and Moe report that Anna was awake in bed watching television around 11 a.m. For lunch, she was feeling good enough to eat an egg white and spinach omelet, but by afternoon, she had taken a turn for the worse. According to statements given by Howard and Dr. Khris to the medical examiner, Anna was found that afternoon sitting in the dry bathtub, naked and confused. She then took a bath and, feeling slightly better, ordered two crab cakes and shrimp for dinner from room service who left the food on a cart by the door to the suite.

In the evening, Anna became very upset when Dr. Khristine had to leave for California. Anna began complaining about not feeling well. She begged Dr. Khris not to go, but Dr. Khris said she had to get back to her private practice in Los Angeles. Dr. Khris, Anna's psychiatrist, was also Anna's next-door neighbor. Anna told one of her good friends, Jackie Hatten, that she loved having a psychiatrist that she could talk to every day, "just like Marilyn Monroe did."

After Dr. Khris left, Moe stayed the night in room 609, the other bedroom of the suite. "It was an open room, and I knew she wasn't feeling well," Moe said in the Fox News interview. "And Howard just asked me, 'Hey, can you just stay over?' I said, 'Oh, no problem.'"

According to a source close to the investigation, there was one problem for Moe when police later looked at the Hard Rock Hotel's surveillance tapes. What the public doesn't know is that there was someone else in the suite the night before Anna died. That night, Moe was seen walking into the suite with a mysterious woman. A woman that wasn't his wife.

Thursday, February 8

Whether because of the insanity of the day—or the confusion of trying to keep a story straight—the times that certain things occurred on the day Anna died get blurry among all those involved. But there are two specific times that can't be denied. The first call for help came from room 607 at 1:38 p.m., and Anna Nicole Smith was pronounced dead at Memorial Regional Hospital at 2:49 p.m. It's what occurred before, during, and after that is troubling.

Big Moe has said that when he arrived back at the hotel the night before—sometime between eight and ten o'clock—Anna was on the couch in the living room of the suite watching television and Howard was in the master bedroom. According to Moe, Anna was no longer on the couch at 4 a.m. According to the Broward County Medical Examiner's report, it is believed Anna Nicole took chloral hydrate before falling asleep the night before. Howard told investigators he slept in bed with her and when she awoke around 9 a.m. he said she did not complain of pain, but felt very weak and asked him to help her get to the bathroom and back to bed.

Howard K. Stern also made a point to tell Seminole Police that he did not give Anna any medication that day and he told them that he "did not see her take medication, but believed she was taking her medication." Moe said he came into the room that morning sometime around 9 a.m. to tell Howard he was going to go have breakfast with his wife, Tas, and would be back shortly. Moe told the police that he "thought" he saw Anna moving in bed that morning, but later, when he discussed the morning with others, he said that Anna received medicine from Howard around 9 a.m. "like she always did."

But Moe says something was peculiar that morning. Howard's behavior.

At 10:45 a.m., Moe and Tas were waiting for the breakfast they ordered at the hotel restaurant when Moe's phone rang. It was Howard asking if Moe would mind going to the airport to pick up King Eric when he arrived. Seventy-three-year-old King Eric Gibson, the former husband of Mrs. Gerlene Gibson and father to Shane Gibson, is the Bahamian boat captain who was going to pilot Anna's new boat back to the Bahamas. Moe said he and Tas would go pick them up.

According to Tas's subsequent statements to private investigators, Howard called again a few minutes later to say it was time to go pick up King Eric and his party. "Howard wanted to stay with Anna because she was so sick," Tas said. Since she and Moe had planned to do some errands, Tas wondered aloud who was going to go to the boat.

"No way Howard is going to leave Anna," Moe said to Tas over breakfast. "No way he'll go to the boat." They decided King Eric and his boat hand could go alone then and they could still get to their errands as planned.

After picking up King Eric, his sixty-three-year-old common-law wife, Brigitte Neven, and King Eric's first mate at the airport, Moe and Tas brought them back to the Hard Rock a little before noon. They were waiting at the elevator bank to go up to the room when Howard came out of the elevator they were about to get into. Tas says he was "fidgety, strange acting" and that "he seemed surprised when he saw us."

"What's up?" Moe asked.

"I just came down to use my cell phone," Howard said.

"Why?" Moe asked. "It works just fine in the room."

Howard stuttered. "Ah, ah."

According to Tas, "He didn't say anything, and then just went upstairs in the elevator with all of us." When she thinks back on the day, she said, "I still cannot get over his behavior at that moment."

The entire group walked into Room 609 and Tas says Howard was "talking in a normal, in a loud voice, which in hindsight seems strange given that Anna was supposed to be sleeping. He wasn't whispering." He shouted out to Anna, saying, "Anna we have guests." Also, Howard did something that in retrospect seems "calculated," Tas says. "He stood in front of the living room area in between the two rooms, with his back to the master bedroom. So we could barely look into 607." Tas also recalled it was "like he was intentionally blocking our view of Anna inside the next room."

They were only in the room for a few minutes when Howard announced the boat appointment was at noon. "Noon?" King Eric asked. "It's twelve o'clock now."

"Oh," Howard said. "Then, we have to go."

Moe was surprised Howard said he was going to leave and asked, "Who's going to look after Anna?"

"Brigitte will look after Anna," Howard said.

Moe didn't like the idea of Brigitte staying alone with Anna when she was so sick, so he asked Tas to stay too. "Just stay for a little while, baby," he said. "Do you mind?"

Tas shrugged her shoulders and said, "Okay." Moe then told her she could take his computer and check her e-mails. Tas told private investigators that she was surprised about staying "since the plan was for me to do errands, not to baby-sit Anna."

Moe told the private investigators he thought it was strange that "at first Howard didn't want to leave her, but it was okay to leave her later?" Numerous people who are familiar with the relationships told me that both Howard and Moe leaving Anna while she was so sick was highly unusual. Typically, one or both would stay by her side. But the men all left the suite, leaving three women behind—the bodyguard's wife, the boat captain's companion, and Anna Nicole Smith, the world famous beauty, in bed and in trouble.

The strange thing about Howard's noon appointment was that it wasn't at noon at all. "Howard had a one o'clock appointment with me," the boat handyman told me. "Definitely one o'clock."

According to Mark Dekema, the yacht broker from "Reel Deal Yachts" who had sold Anna the boat in January for a little less than the advertised price of $129,000, Howard called several times during the week to reschedule the appointment. The Thursday appointment to inspect the boat had been originally scheduled for Tuesday but Howard had called on Monday to say that he needed to postpone a day because both he and Anna had "the stomach flu." Tuesday, he postponed again, but said, "Let's definitely make it Thursday." There were approximately five or six calls between the two men on Thursday, but Dekema said the time was always set for one o'clock. "Howard seemed normal," Dekema said. "Like an excited boat buyer."

•   •   •

Back at the Hard Rock, Tasma Brighthaupt and Brigitte Neven were getting acquainted in the luxury suite. Brigitte began thumbing through the promotional materials in the room. What she really wanted to do was go down where the hotel was gearing up for its annual Seminole Tribal Fair Powwow in which Native Americans stroll the halls in brightly colored attire, and hotel guests and busloads of schoolchildren learn about Native American culture and food. Brigitte was hungry. She hadn't eaten since early that morning before they left the Bahamas. But soon the two women realized they couldn't leave the room. Neither Brigitte nor Tas were left with a room key, and they needed a key to get past security at the elevators. So, if they went downstairs, they couldn't get back up. They were stuck in the suite.

The two women made small talk. Tas is Bahamian and grew up in Nassau. Brigitte, who has spent her adult life in the Bahamas, grew up in Germany. Tas is a trained nurse, having gotten her license a little more than a year before, in December 2005. Brigitte said she loved the Bahamas, its people, the weather, and the food . . . Food. Brigitte was really hungry, so she pulled out the room service menu and ordered up some food. Tas began working on her computer. A little while later, as Brigitte read a book, Tas said she was having problems with her computer, so she went into the bedroom where Anna slept, to the foot of the king size bed and used the computer on a table there.

•   •   •

Anna's new boat, a 39-foot 1995 Carver, had been paid for by wire transfer on January 19, and she had already christened it The Cracker, a name she used to call herself and her son, a tongue-in-cheek term for a white person living in a black community. The boat was ready and waiting at the Royal Palm Yacht Basin in Dania, Florida, directly south of the Ft. Lauderdale Airport, six miles east of the Hard Rock Hotel.

Though Anna had wanted to make the entire interior pink, her favorite color, boat broker Mark Dekema says he talked Howard out of this, giving them estimates of the retrofitting changes they wanted of between $16,000 and $22,000. All of which Howard said was too high. Instead, they settled on adding two big screen TV's, including a 36″ flat screen in the master salon.

Howard wasn't late for a noon appointment; he was early for a one o'clock appointment. When the handyman got to the boat basin promptly at 1 p.m., Howard and King Eric were waiting for him. The handyman, who had done the minor repairs and upgrades and had also managed the boat for the previous owner, greeted them and took them to the boat. The boat was scheduled to be put in the water later that day and was already in the lift, a crane-like mechanism that lowers boats into the water. The men climbed aboard and began looking around, and the handyman pointed out things about the boat as they went. The boat has two private staterooms, comfortable seating for six, and a wet bar with an icemaker, ideal for entertaining.

The handyman said he spoke about the boat for ten or so minutes, during which time Howard seemed very detached, only giving one-word answers and comments. "He was cold," the handyman told me. "He showed no emotion at all." The handyman told me he was surprised that Howard himself even came for the appointment, noting that the things to check could have been easily done by his captain, King Eric.

Right about 1:15 p.m. Howard was on his cell phone with Mark Dekema, the boat salesman; Dekema wanted to make sure everything was okay.

•   •   •

Things weren't okay back at the Hard Rock, even though, according to Tas, only five minutes prior she told Moe that they were. Shortly after 1:00 p.m., Moe had called his wife from his cell phone to talk about his errands and check on how Anna was doing. He originally told the media it was about fifteen minutes after he left the Hard Rock for a "twenty minute errand," but it had been, as we now know, at least an hour after all the men left the suite.

"How's she doing?" Moe asked.


On Sale
Sep 4, 2007
Page Count
256 pages

Rita Cosby

About the Author

An Emmy-award winning journalist, Rita Cosby hosted the top-rated show on MSNBC, Rita Cosby: Live & Direct. She also hosted Fox News Channel’s highly rated programs, Fox News Live with Rita Cosby and The Big Story Weekend Edition with Rita Cosby. She has been a featured guest on hundreds of television and radio shows worldwide and earned her two bachelors’ degrees from the University of South Carolina.

Learn more about this author