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Photos: Anna Nicole Smith

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  1. Texas teen

    Anna Nicole Smith's photo is seen in a 1985 Mexia (Texas) High School yearbook under the name Nikki Hart. School officials say Smith went by the name Nikki Hart during her brief tenure there. (Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  2. Short, tragic life

    The cover of the June 1993 Playmate of the Year issue of Playboy magazine featured Anna Nicole Smith. Smith, the pneumatic blonde whose life played out as an extraordinary tabloid tale -- jeans model, Playboy centerfold, widow of an octogenarian billionaire, reality-show subject, tragic mother -- died Thursday, Feb. 8, 2007, after collapsing at a Hollywood, Fla., hotel. She was 39. (Playboy) Back to slideshow navigation
  3. She had drive

    Smith holds a Texas license plate that reads "PMOY 93" (Playmate of the Year). (Time & Life Pictures) Back to slideshow navigation
  4. Happy husband

    Millionaire J. Howard Marshall II made headlines in 1994 when he married Smith. She was 26 and he was 89. He died Aug. 5, 1995, when he was 90. Smith and Marshall's son, E. Pierce Marshall, battled over Marshall's estate. The boy next to Marshall is Smith's late son, Daniel. (Sipa Press) Back to slideshow navigation
  5. Daniel's short life

    Smith and her son Daniel, 13, leave a federal courthouse in Los Angeles on Oct. 27, 1999. His body was found in the Bahamas on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2006. A coroner's report ruled the death was caused by an overdose of anti-depressants and methadone. (Nick Ut / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  6. Fighting for her share

    Smith listens in court in Houston with her attorneys Tom Cunningham and Howard Stern on Monday, Oct. 2, 2000. Sixteen jurors, four of them alternates, were seated to hear the lawsuit where Smith laid claim to a share of the oil fortune of her deceased husband, J. Howard Marshall II. Smith married the Texas oil tycoon in 1994 and he died the following year. Stern later reportedly married Smith and claimed to be the father of Dannielynn Hope Marshall Stern. (Steve Ueckert / Pool via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  7. Back to work

    Smith is surrounded by members of KISS at the conclusion of the Lane Bryant show featuring plus size fashions in New York on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2002. The legendary rock band gave a live performance throughout the runway show, which kicked off New York Fashion Week. (Robert Mecea / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  8. Activist

    In this handout image from PETA, Smith poses as Marliyn Monroe for a 2004 ad campaign titled, Gentlemen Prefer Fur Free Blondes. PETA's Michael McGraw said in reaction to Smith's death, "She was a great friend to animals and used every opportunity to speak out against senseless cruelty." (PETA via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  9. Hot pink

    Smith walks the runway at the Heatherette fashion show during Olympus Fashion Week in New York on Feb. 12, 2004. (Matthew Peyton / Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  10. Always outrageous

    Smith feigns a "wardrobe malfunction" before announcing Rikku in "Final Fantasy X-2" as the Hottest Character award winner during "G-Phoria -- The Award Show 4 Gamers" in Los Angeles on Aug. 1, 2004. (Jim Ruymen / Corbis) Back to slideshow navigation
  11. Strange behavior

    Smith waves during an appearance backstage during the Live 8 concert in Philadelphia on July 2, 2005. The production company behind the concerts claimed in a lawsuit against Trimspa Inc. that its reputation was damaged by Smith's attire and conduct. Smith, a spokesperson for Trimspa, was not named as a defendant in the lawsuit. (Coke Whitworth / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  12. Wowing the Supremes

    Smith and her lawyer Howard K. Stern leave the U.S. Supreme Court on Feb. 28, 2006. In a unanimous decision, the court ruled that Smith could continue her claim for part of her late husband's fortune. (Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  13. Home sweet home?

    Smith holds her daughter Dannielyn Hope and poses with Stern and "Entertainment Tonight" co-host Mark Steines at the couple's home in the Bahamas on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2006. Businessman and former boyfriend G. Ben Thompson threatened to evict Smith from her Bahamas home, claiming she wasn't making the mortgage payments. (Entertainment Tonight via AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  14. No sign of trouble

    Smith watched a boxing match from near ringside at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel and Casino in Hollywood, Fla., on Wednesday, Jan. 6, 2007. She died Feb. 8, 2007. (Hans Deryk / Reuters) Back to slideshow navigation
  15. A mother mourns

    Smith's mother, Virgie Arthur, center, and her husband James Arthur, left, embrace as the coffin of Anna Nicole leaves a Bahamas church on March 2, 2007, as the former Playboy model headed to her final resting three weeks after her death. A throng of Bahamians, tourists and media crushed behind police barriers as the pink-laced white coffin was carried into the Mount Horeb Baptist Cathedral in Nassau, Bahamas, for a funeral ceremony closed to all but 300 invited guests.The church was reportedly filled with pink roses, and sources close to the funeral said Smith's body was clad in a gown and tiara. (Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  16. Laid to rest

    Locals stand before the grave of Smith at the Lakeview Memorial Gardens in Nassau, Bahamas, on March 2, 2007. (Robert Sullivan / AFP - Getty Images) Back to slideshow navigation
  17. 'I told you so!'

    Larry Birkhead rejoices after hearing in a Bahamian court on April 10, 2007, that he has been proven to be the legal father of Smith's baby, Dannielynn. Birkhead later hugged Howard K. Stern, who had been acting as the baby's father. (Christine Aylen / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
  18. Derby day with daughter

    Birkhead and Dannielynn feed a pony at the Kentucky Derby Museum in Louisville, Ky., on Wednesday, April 28. 2010. Birkhead, a Louisville native, first met Anna Nicole at a 2004 party around the famous horse race. (Charlie Riedel / AP) Back to slideshow navigation
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updated 10/7/2009 2:12:19 PM ET 2009-10-07T18:12:19

The FBI investigated whether Anna Nicole Smith was part of a plot to kill her tycoon husband’s son, whom she was battling for his late dad’s fortune, but prosecutors ultimately decided there wasn’t enough evidence to charge the Playboy Playmate who died in 2007 from a drug overdose, newly released files show.

Smith’s FBI records, obtained exclusively by The Associated Press, say the agency investigated Smith in 2000 and 2001 in a murder-for-hire plot targeting E. Pierce Marshall, who was at the center of a long legal fight to keep the starlet, model and stripper from collecting his father’s oil wealth, valued in the hundreds of millions. The younger Marshall died three years ago of natural causes.

The documents released under the Freedom of Information Act depict an investigation going on as the fight raged over J. Howard Marshall II’s estate. Vast sections of the 100 pages of released materials — a fraction of Smith’s full FBI file — are whited out, and no evidence of her involvement in such a plot is detailed.

There is no indication how authorities became aware of the alleged scheme, but agents interviewed Smith on July 3, 2000. When told why she was being questioned, “Smith began crying and denied ever making such plans,” a report said.

Smith told agents that killing Pierce Marshall would not have made sense because her ex-husband’s money would still be tied up in a trust, and because she believed the court battle over the fortune was nearly over, the report states. She told agents she believed the story about the plot was made up by a former lover angry that she broke off their relationship, according to the files.

“Smith adamantly denied ever contemplating such a crime,” an agent wrote, and prosecutors eventually agreed the case could not go forward. An April 26, 2001, letter to the FBI from Sally Meloch, an assistant U.S. attorney, said she reviewed the reports but “determined that there is insufficient evidence to establish that there was a murder-for-hire plot by Ms. Smith to kill Pierce Marshall.”

Met her husband in topless bar
Reached at her Los Angeles office on Tuesday, Meloch didn’t recall the case, but said, “Any investigations that we didn’t proceed with, we couldn’t comment on anyway.”

Ron Rale, Smith’s personal attorney during her life and the executor of her estate, said whatever allegations were made were absolutely false: “Unequivocally, there was never a murder-for-hire plot that Anna was involved in. Absolutely false. Never happened. End of story.”

An attorney for the Marshall estate, including for the younger Marshall’s widow, said he couldn’t comment. A spokesman for the family, David Margulies, said the family was aware of the FBI investigation but didn’t wish to comment further.

But Rusty Hardin, a Houston attorney and longtime Marshall family friend, laughed upon hearing of the alleged plot.

Slideshow: Celebrity Sightings “I don’t think I ever saw any credible evidence,” he said. “I do not remember ever being concerned about whether she was trying to have him killed.”

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Smith was 26 when she wed the 89-year-old Marshall, owner of Great Northern Oil Co., whose wealth was estimated by Forbes to be $550 million in 1992. They met while she was a topless dancer at a Texas strip club.

He died of natural causes in 1995, little more than a year after they wed. His son died in 2006 at age 67 of an infection and Smith died a year later at age 39 after collapsing in her South Florida hotel room.

The FBI files show a .357 Smith and Wesson revolver was confiscated from Smith’s home, along with a 3½-inch stainless-steel knife and, for reasons that were not explained, a black and orange hat described as “Dr. Seuss.” All three objects were returned to her about seven months later.

Tape recordings
The FBI reviewed tape recordings of phone calls involving Smith during their investigation, though transcripts were not included in the released materials. Among the things that were included were agents’ scribblings in spiral-bound notebooks, accounts of Smith’s past arrests for drunken driving and battery, and an interview of the younger Marshall.

In that June 27, 2000 interview, Marshall said Smith rarely spent time with his father after their 1994 marriage and said his father complained that she asked for $50,000 to $60,000 twice a week.

Smith’s lawyer and companion Howard K. Stern and two doctors, Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, are charged in California with helping the model obtain drugs that ultimately killed her. All have pleaded not guilty.

The dispute between Smith and the Marshall estate has bounced around courts for years.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2006 that Smith could pursue her late husband’s fortune, overturning an appellate decision, which continues to be fought in California. The money became a factor after Smith’s death, too, with Stern, her mother, and another boyfriend all fighting over an estate that ultimately will go to her daughter, who is now 3.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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