Prince’s body showed no signs of trauma; cause of death still unknown

Jason Sickles

A four-hour autopsy was performed on Prince on Friday, but authorities said they are no closer to determining how the iconic musician died.

“It was a meticulous exam,” said Martha Weaver, spokeswoman for the Midwest Medical Examiners Office.

Carver County Sheriff Jim Olson, whose officers responded to a 911 call at Prince’s Paisley Park estate Thursday morning, said the artist’s body showed no signs of trauma.

“There was no sign of violence,” Olson said at a Friday afternoon news conference.

Nor do investigators have “reason to believe it was suicide,” he said. “The rest of it is under investigation.”

Flowers lay on a T-shirt signed by fans of singer Prince at a makeshift memorial place created outside Apollo Theater in New York. (AP/Andres Kudacki)

Prince Rogers Nelson, 57, was last seen alive at his sprawling compound in Chanhassen, a suburb of Minneapolis, about 8 p.m. Wednesday, the sheriff said.

“He had been dropped off there at Paisley Park,” Olson said.

Staff members at the estate found the singer unconscious in an elevator on the property at about 9:43 a.m. Thursday. Olson said first responders tried to perform CPR on Prince, but could not revive him. Authorities pronounced him deceased 24 minutes later, but it is not yet known how long he might have been dead.

Even though the physical autopsy is finished, officials say it could take several days to weeks before Prince’s manner of death is confirmed and made public.

The longest delay will be for the results of toxicology testing.

“It will take days and weeks to complete those particular investigations,” Weaver said.

The sheriff declined to address speculation that Prince’s death was caused by a reported abuse of prescription pain pills.

“I’m not able to confirm that at this time at all,” Olson said. “There have been so many rumors out that I’ve read about. I don’t know if I can dispel all the rumors that are out there.”

A law enforcement officer and an employee are seen outside of Paisley Park, music superstar Prince's estate in Chanhassen, Minnesota. (Reuters/Craig Lassig)

Investigators said their probe would include conversations with the popular performer’s doctors and an examination of his medical and family history.

Prince was on tour in the U.S. this month and played a show in Atlanta the night of the April 14. The superstar was briefly hospitalized while on his way home after his plane made an emergency landing in Illinois because he was reportedly suffering from the flu.

“Between us and the medical examiner, we will be looking at all of that,” the sheriff said of the recent hospital visit. “This case is 29 hours old and continues to evolve for us.”

According to flight records, the jet Prince was believed to be using left Atlanta shortly before 1 a.m. EDT on April 15. The Dassault Falcon 900 was en route to Minneapolis–Saint Paul International Airport but diverted to Quad City International Airport in Moline, Ill., about 30 minutes before the scheduled landing. The aircraft, according to records, was in Illinois for nearly 10 hours before departing for Minneapolis again.

“Anything which could be relevant to the investigation will be taken into consideration,” Weaver said earlier in the day.

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Because of Prince’s relatively young age and the fact that no one witnessed his death, the sheriff said crime lab technicians combed the musician’s home. However, Olson declined to reveal what was seized or discuss its value to the investigation.

The first officers on the scene found Prince slumped in an elevator on the complex's first floor. He was dressed in pants and a shirt, but Olson said he did not know how long the singer had been wearing the clothes.

Given that Prince occasionally performed for others at his estate, the sheriff said, “It’s not unusual for us to receive calls at Paisley Park itself,” Olson said. “But there was nothing that I’m aware of that involved Prince directly at Paisley Park.”

“He’d been a longtime member of the community and really a good neighbor for everybody,” said the sheriff, whose department has jurisdiction over the town of 23,000.

Prince’s body was released to his family and retrieved from the coroner’s office Friday afternoon, Weaver said.

(This is story has been updated since it originally published.)

Jason Sickles is a national reporter for Yahoo News. Follow him on Twitter (@jasonsickles).