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IMAGE: Johnson gate
Nick Ut  /  AP
The front gate of Casey Johnson's Los Angeles' home bore the name "Grumblenot."
updated 1/6/2010 10:55:53 AM ET 2010-01-06T15:55:53

Casey Johnson, an heiress to the Johnson & Johnson fortune, lived the life of a Hollywood socialite — partying with Paris Hilton, posing for paparazzi, becoming engaged to bisexual reality TV star Tila Tequila and like her idol Marilyn Monroe, dying young.

An autopsy Tuesday found no evidence of trauma on the body of the 30-year-old Johnson and a determination of the cause of death was deferred pending toxicological tests and microscopic studies that could take eight weeks or more.

Johnson was diagnosed with diabetes as a child, but it was unclear if that had a role in her death.

Her body will be flown east for a private family funeral service this week.

Family spokesman Jesse Derris wouldn't provide details Wednesday about where Johnson's body would be taken.

"The family asks for a measure of privacy over the next several days as they mourn their loss. No other information will be released at this time," said a family statement released Tuesday.

Johnson's body was found Monday in the home where she lived behind big wooden gates bearing the name "Grumblenot" in a quiet neighborhood. There were no signs of foul play, police Officer Gregory Baek said.

But there were signs of trouble in tabloid tales of a life of privilege seemingly spinning out of control.

Johnson was facing criminal charges alleging she burglarized a friend's home, reportedly had her adopted daughter taken away by her mother, and once publicly accused her father's sister of stealing her boyfriend.

Johnson was the daughter of New York Jets owner Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson IV. He is also chairman of the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation and co-authored the book, "Managing Your Child's Diabetes."

Woody Johnson learned of his daughter's death a day after his team clinched an NFL playoff spot for the first time in three seasons.

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Jets head coach Rex Ryan opened his press conference Tuesday by offering condolences to the owner.

"It's obviously a tragedy for Mr. Johnson and his family," Ryan said.

Casey Johnson had no role in the health care products company that her great-great-grandfather founded in 1886, even though she and her two younger sisters were heirs to the fortune.

The family's involvement with the corporation ended decades ago.

‘Baby-oil heiress’ turned down ‘Simple Life’
Like her friend and former high school classmate Hilton, Johnson's exploits were detailed in tabloid reports of partying and sexual escapades. Johnson became a staple of the New York Post's Page Six, the gossip column where she was mockingly dubbed the "baby-oil heiress."

She was one of the subjects of the 2002 Manhattan documentary "It Girls," but screen fame eluded her.

Johnson told Vanity Fair in a 2006 interview that her decision to turn down Hilton's invitation to be her co-star on "The Simple Life" reality show was "the stupidest mistake of my life."

In a Twitter posting Tuesday, Hilton said she was devastated by the death of her friend.

Slideshow: Celebrity scandals of 2009 "In bed crying, looking at baby pictures of Casey, Nicky and I. I feel so upset. I feel like I've lost a sister. My heart is broken. Miss her," she wrote.

Johnson and Tila Tequila canoodled and announced they were engaged in a Web video last month. Tequila referred to Johnson as "my Wifey" in a Twitter posting after Johnson's death.

Johnson was recently arrested for investigation of stealing $22,000 in lingerie, mail, jewelry and other items from the Hollywood home of model friend Jasmine Lennard.

She pleaded not guilty last month to burglary and receiving stolen property, and had a preliminary hearing scheduled on Feb. 2, district attorney's spokeswoman Jane Robison said.

Johnson also was reportedly in a custody fight over her adopted daughter with her mother, Sale Johnson.

Casey Johnson adopted the child as a baby from Kazakhstan in 2007 and named her Ava-Monroe after her idol, Marilyn Monroe.

"I see a lot of similarities between us," Casey said about Monroe in the Vanity Fair interview. "Her life makes me sad. I don't think she was very happy.

"They thought she was some dumb blonde, and she wasn't. She was a smart, smart broad. And I think that sometimes people look at me and think, 'Oh, Casey Johnson, she's stupid, she's blonde, she's an heiress, blah, blah, blah.'"

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

Video: Autopsy inconclusive

  1. Closed captioning of: Autopsy inconclusive

    >>> with the lest o the untimely death of casey hnson, the 30-year-old heiress to the johnson & johnson fortune. was she living in squalor, surroued by rs during her final months? we're going to talk to addiction expert dr.rew pinsky in a moment, but first, here's nbc's miguellmague

    >> reporter: caseyohns was born wh money, but it was fame e sought. now some wonderf it waser hoywoolifeyle at contributed toer sden and surprising death at ju 30 yes old.

    >> now, what we're hearing is, n't be surprisedrom our urces if prescription drugs turn out to be facr in all of this. we're hearing fro sources very cle to casey that she took numerous prescriptions o numerous occasions.

    >> reporter: a source close to the jnsonells nbcews the family doesn't believe drugs were involvend point out cases lifelongtruggle with severeabes. friendsayhey've been tryin to contact jnson for day bere her body was found monday in her los angeles home, promptin speculati that she may have lapsed into a diabetic coma . with an autopsy just coleted, the coroners waiting for toxicology reports before declaring anfficial cause o death. * i a stuck on band-aid brand cause nd-aid'stuck o me *

    >> reporter: an irs to one of amera's largest fortunes, casey 's great-great grandfather created the johnson & johnson brd. the documenta " born rich " showsed the johnsonamil as having as much time as money on their hands.

    >> so, i want to ask him wt he thinks ihould do with mylife.

    >> reporter: private and reserved bunch, the johon family ne was dragged into t tabloids after casey accused her auntf stealing her boyfriend in "vity fair" article. it was the startf some lacious scanls. after declaring she w a lesbian, johnson had a viole fight with then girriend and yahoo! heiress courtney semel, in which johnson 's hair was repoedly lit on fire. johnson also facedrimina chges after being crg wh burglarizing anex-girlfrid's home. it was video like this from radanline.com that concern johnson 's parents, iluding her father, thewnerf the new york jets he reputation as a notorious party rlay heed to h mother's decision to take custodyf the girl johnson adopd 2007 ,eepeng a faly rt that was never renciled.

    >> her family was so conceed, in fact, they cut off her fortune, they said enoh is enough, they wer hoping that they could strangle the money, get the money ay from her maybe it would lead to, y know, an endo this lifeyle.

    >> reporter: even ihe didn't have money, johnson still had famous friends. she turd down an invitation to co-star in paris hilt's reality show simpllife."

    >> this fun. *

    >> reporter: later calling the decision the biggest miak of her life. afte reportedly pitchinger own reality show --

    >> 17 karats, by, woo!

    >> reporter: -- jnson became engaged to tilteil another realy show star. bu even that say hollywood insiders, appeared to be a grab for fame. now, in a twist of irony, casey johnn may nowe more famou in death tn in fe. for "today," miguel almaer, nbc news, hollywood .

    >> dr. dre nsky counsels stars on how to deal wh their addictions on his show "celebrity rehabith dr. drew goodorning to yo

    >> good morning, meredith.

    >> y hr thi sto about casey johnson . here w a young woman born with a silver spo in her mouth. she ha accs to whatever she nted.

    >> yes.

    >> nd yet, at the end of her life, friends describe her as a ain wreck, in and out of rehab, addicted to dru and alcohol, according to her fries, a party girl , dies alone in wt the ew york post" is reporting today was a nted house with no heat, electricity, water, with rats --

    >> oh, my goodness

    >> -- the pool. how do something like th happen?

    >> llit's very, very,ery sad. the press iseplete wit stories of celrities today dying with alth-related iless. not nary a d goes bye're not hearing out these things in these casesith diabetes you haveedical problems and psychiatric problems comned to create a deay mbination.

    >> her family saidhat depression often comes with diabetes. andagain,e're speculating on a lot of this.

    >> right, all speculation. the's been an topsy. we really d'tnow anything yet. it hearsay, but the reality is that juvenile onset diabetics that have lilong diates often hav high incidence of depression h friends sayowards the en of r life, she had been self-medicating, things were not going well with her. she was ghting with friends, estranged from family. her daughterad bn taken from r by her mom. are you surprisedy things like this?

    >> selfedicating for meas little meaning. yes, there is a reason you start self-medicating, takin things to makyourself start feeling better, but usually a secd nditn is triggered, and that's diction. d once you have tt conditio it doesn't matter what you were taking the dru forn t fir place, y now have a secondlife-thrtening oblem. in t case of casey , iuess she d an insulin pump of some type --

    >> exactly.

    >> nd if you're alted, not ing appropriate dgment, your cognitiois off andou can't follow the careful, structured gimen of diabetes, you cld easily lose control of how to monitoyour blood gar,nd certainly, mi-altering substances can contribute to that bei a fatal problem.

    >> and there were rorts that had e been foundarlier -- and she may have beenead up to aeek --

    >> wo

    >> or justhort of a week. isn tha something?

    >> that maybe s could have been lped.

    >> solutely. these are relatively common conditions i diabetics, high or low bloodugarpisodes. there are bttle dietics, as casey is scribed, in and o of the hospital with these problems.

    >> let's talk about the lifestyle she supposedlyled. as i saidbefore, she was a party rl, very interted in fame a becoming a big name in hollywood , like that of her close fries. she was very close to the hiltons. why do you tnk that was so important for her? i'm sure you'veeen tha with other celeities.

    >> well, boy, meredith, i wrote a ok on this topic. you know, why has fame becomen autonomous motivator for young people toy? and i think fundantally -- thiss big topic, but fundamentally, iis an attempt fill emptiness. eneople come fromhildhos that haven't been fulfilling, when they have a l of chaos in their lives, when the's a lot of addiction, fam becomes a w to solve tt problem, and t ke themsves feel better, to sort of sol -- call it a narcsism, where they need to fill the void, t emptiness. and unfortunately, as you see with celrities every day w are suffering a continug to have severe mentalealth nsequences, it really doesn't solve any problems.

    >> do you think it will send a message tother celebrities out there? i mean, a lot of condonces nt outer way immediately from somef theth celebrits t inhollywood.

    >> ye. you know, will it change celeities? no, because celebrities tend to have a lot more mental health libt than the average population. the real question i have to ask is when are w going to have had engh ofhis as viewers a consumer of media, we really chew this stuff up, an we've got toegin to think about th fact that these are serious medical problems that are taking lives in the media rou tleevenl now, and we've goto stand up and sort of recognize what ts isnd not sit in sort of disdain and envy and cw th materialp the way we tend to.

    >> dr. drew pinsky , thank you a always.


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