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Philip Seymour Hoffman died of accidental drug overdose, coroner rules


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LAST UPDATED: 01:22 p.m. HST, Feb 28, 2014


NEW YORK » A toxic mix of heroin and other drugs killed Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, New York City officials said Friday.

A spokeswoman for the New York City medical examiner said Hoffman died from a mix of heroin, cocaine, amphetamines and benzodiazepines, which are drugs such as Xanax and Valium that are widely prescribed for anxiety, trouble sleeping and other problems. His death was ruled an accident.

Law enforcement officials have said Hoffman was found Feb. 2 with a needle in his arm, and tests found heroin in samples from at least 50 packets in his Manhattan apartment. Authorities also found unused syringes, a charred spoon and various prescription medications, including a drug used to treat heroin addiction, a blood-pressure medication and a muscle relaxant.

Police had been investigating his death as a suspected drug overdose.

Hoffman, 46, who won an Oscar for "Capote" and starred in numerous other movies as well as New York stage productions, had been frank about struggling with substance abuse. He told CBS' "60 Minutes" in 2006 that had he used "anything I could get my hands on" before getting clean at age 22. But in interviews last year, he said he'd relapsed, had developed a heroin problem and had gone to rehab for a time.

Investigators have been probing how Hoffman may have obtained the heroin. Tests of the heroin in his apartment have found that it was not cut with a dangerous additive such as fentanyl, a synthetic form of morphine used to intensify the high that has been linked to deaths in other states.

A musician, veteran jazz player Robert Vineberg, has been charged with keeping a heroin stash in a lower Manhattan apartment amid the investigation into Hoffman's death. Vineberg, who has said he was a friend of the Tony Award-nominated Hoffman, hasn't been charged in Hoffman's death and has said he didn't sell him the heroin found in his apartment.

As police followed a tip after Hoffman's death, they said they found about 300 small bags of heroin, worth about $10 apiece on the street, and $1,300 in cash in Vineberg's apartment and music studio.






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