CHASKA, Minn. (KMSP) - Prosecutors in Minnesota will make an announcement Thursday on whether or not anyone will be criminally charged in the April 21, 2016 death of music icon Prince at his Paisley Park estate. Carver County Attorney Mark Metz has called an 11:30 a.m. CT news conference for Thursday, April 19.
Prince was found alone and unresponsive in an elevator at his Paisley Park estate on April 21, 2016. A 911 call placed at 9:43 a.m. that day informed the dispatcher, "Yes, it's Prince." Prince was pronounced dead at 10:07 a.m.
Public data released six weeks after his death showed he died of an accidental overdose of fentanyl, a synthetic opioid 50 times more powerful than heroin. A toxicology report recently obtained by the Associated Press revealed the 57-year-old had an “exceedingly high” concentration of fentanyl in his body when he died.
Last month, a Carver County judge ordered the partial release of documents in Prince’s death investigation to his siblings, specifically the documents related to his drug overdose in Moline, Illinois days before his fatal overdose at Paisley Park. The statute of limitations for filing a civil lawsuit in Illinois expires two years after a death, giving his heirs a deadline of April 21.
In October 2016, a court order extended the seal on the search warrants and accompanying documents involved in the Prince death investigation until April 17, 2017. On that date, those documents were unsealed and made public.
The search warrants and affidavits show which drugs were recovered from Paisley Park, which drugs Prince may have been using, where he got them from, and who he got them from. But the documents don’t reveal the big missing piece in the criminal investigation: Where did Prince get the fentanyl that killed him?
According to the search warrants, Carver County Sheriff’s investigators and the DEA searched Paisley Park and the mobile phone records of Prince’s associates, as well as email accounts used by Prince and his associates in an effort to find the source of the fentanyl.
PRINCE DIDN’T HAVE ANY PRESCRIPTIONS: According to the court documents, Prince didn’t have a prescription for any of the drugs found at Paisley Park. Investigators learned his longtime friend and business associate, Kirk Johnson, was known to have contacted Dr. Michael Todd Schulenberg to help Prince with treating his hip pain. Dr. Schulenberg met with Prince and prescribed him clonidine, hydroxyzine pamoate and diazepam, which were filled on April 20 at Walgreen’s on County Road 101 in Minnetonka.
DRUGS FOUND AT PAISLEY PARK: According to the search warrants, investigators recovered a wide range of drugs from Paisley Park – but most were mislabeled and none were prescribed to Prince. The following drugs were itemized in the court documents:
15 white capsules numbered 853 found in the second floor dressing room on the east side.
CVS Pharmacy bottle in the name of Kirk Johnson, labeled Vitamin D2, containing 7 green capsules with 194 imprint, 8 orange oval pills located in a “mirror room” inside a suitcase. Pill imprint 194 is associated with Vitamin D2 (ergocalciferol) .
Bayer bottle with 64 1/4 white pills with Watson 853. Watson 853 is an imprint on generic pills that contain acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitartrate.
CVS Pharmacy bottle in the name of Kirk Johnson containing ondasentron HCl, an anti-nausea medication typically prescribed to chemotherapy patients. The bottle contained 10 white pills with the inscription A-349 and one orange pill with the inscription No. 8. Pills with A-349 are associated with acetaminophen and oxycodone hydrochloride, and orange pills with No. 8 are ondasentron.
Aleve bottle with 20 1/2 white pills labeled Watson 853, an imprint on generic pills that contain acetaminophen and hydrocodone bitartrate.
Investigators also recovered a “Recovery Without Walls” pamphlet recovered the Purple Rain room. Recovery Without Walls is a California-based prescription drug and alcohol addiction program run by Dr. Howard Kornfeld.
TREATMENT PROGRAM: According to the court documents, Andrew Kornfeld was at Paisley Park when police arrived at the death scene. He had arrived in Minneapolis that morning to meet with Prince. His father, Dr. Howard Kornfeld, arranged for him to come in his place to meet with Prince “to discuss concerns, determine if Prince was a candidate for their program and determine if he was willing to participate in their program.”
Kornfeld told detectives that he had drugs in his backpack to help Prince, but would not have administered them without a doctor present. He said his father was unaware that he had brought the drugs.
KIRK JOHNSON'S PRESCRIPTION PICK-UPS: According to court documents, Kirk Johnson went to Walgreen’s and picked up Prince’s prescription medication, prescribed in his name. He told investigators this was the first time he had ever done something like that for Prince. During a search warrant executed at Paisley Park on April 21, the day Prince was found dead, a suitcase was found in Prince’s bedroom next to his bed. The suitcase contained prescription pill bottles in the name of Kirk Johnson, and a closer examination of those pill bottles revealed that not all the pills inside the containers were the pills listed on the prescription. The medications were prescribed by Dr. Schulenberg.
Johnson, however, denies any role in Prince's overdose death, with his attorney releasing a statement to Fox 9 saying, "After reviewing the search warrants and affidavits released today, we believe that it is clear that Kirk Johnson did not secure nor supply the drugs which caused Prince's death."
DOCTOR TRIED TO PROTECT PRINCE'S PRIVACY: Carver County investigators and the DEA learned that Prince had no prescriptions issued to him and that Kirk Johnson had only one, oxycodone, which was prescribed on April 14 by Dr. Schulenberg, the same doctor who was at the scene of Paisley Park the day Prince died. Dr. Schulenberg admitted in a statement to a detective that he had given Prince a prescription for oxycodone the same day as an emergency plane landing in Moline, Illinois, but put the prescription in Kirk Johnson’s name for Prince’s privacy.
He pushed back against those police reports Monday, with his attorney releasing the following statement:
There are no restrictions on Dr. Schulenberg’s medical license, and contrary to headlines and media reports published in the wake of today’s unsealing of search warrants relating to the investigation, Dr. Schulenberg never directly prescribed opioids to Prince, nor did he ever prescribe opioids to any other person with the intent that they would be given to Prince.
EMERGENCY LANDING: Investigators learned Prince had “passed out” during a flight from Atlanta to Minneapolis on Thursday April 15, 2016 into Friday, April 16, 2016 after a concert in Atlanta. Prince’s private jet made an emergency landing at the airport in Moline, Illinois. According to one of the witnesses interviewed, Prince admitted to taking one to two “pain pills”.
PRINCE DIDN’T OWN A CELL PHONE: One of Prince’s bodyguards told investigators that Prince had once owned a cell phone, but that after his cell phone was hacked into and a lot of his personal information was stolen, “Prince became leery of storing his information on the phone and stopped carrying a cell phone and began sending emails.”