Elvis Presley’s Death — What Really Killed the King?

Elvis Presley suddenly dropped in the bathroom of his Graceland mansion on the afternoon of August 16, 1977. He was rushed to Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis, Tennessee, pronounced dead, then shipped to the morgue and autopsied the same afternoon.

Three days later, the coroner issued Elvis’s death certificate stating the cause as “hypertensive cardiovascular disease with atherosclerotic heart disease” — an arrhythmia, or heart attack for short.

However, toxicology results soon identified several pharmaceutical drugs in Elvis’s system with codeine being ten times the therapeutic level. This started accusations of a cover-up and suggesting conspiracy theories of a sinister criminal act.

Pushing forty years after, modern medicine and forensics took a new look at the Presley case facts and indicated that something entirely different from a heart attack or a drug overdose really killed the King of Rock & Roll.

Hindsight being twenty-twenty, let’s first look at how death investigations should be conducted.

Coroners are the judge of death and it’s their responsibility to establish five main facts surrounding a death. (Coroners are not to assign blame.) In the Presley case, the facts determined at the time were:

Identity of DeceasedElvis Aaron Presley.
Time of DeathApproximately 2:00 p.m. on Tuesday, August 16, 1977.
Place of Death3754 Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee.
Cause of Death Heart attack.
Means of DeathChronic heart disease.

There’s a distinct difference between Cause of Death and Means of Death. Cause is the actual event. Means is the method in which death happened. Examples are cause being a ruptured aorta with means being a motor vehicle crash, or cause being massive cerebral interruption with means being gunshot wound to the head.

Once the facts are known, it’s the coroner’s duty to classify the Manner of Death. There —> Read More