Wednesday, August 25, 2010
Affidavit: Doctor wanted to hide suicide
ESPN.com news services
LAS VEGAS -- The doctor who found the body of 25-year-old professional golfer Erica Blasberg told Nevada investigators he hid a suicide note and pills because he wanted to spare her family embarrassment, according to a court document released Wednesday.
A Henderson police affidavit detailed the hours Blasberg and Dr. Thomas Hess spent together playing golf, watching TV in a casino sports book and in her home in the days before he found her dead May 9 with a plastic bag over her head.
Detectives investigating the golfer's death searched the doctor's Mercedes-Benz, which was parked in Blasberg's driveway, and found a suicide note and Xanax pills obtained in Mexico.
Authorities have declined to release the contents of the note.
Hess, 43, told investigators he called 911 and grabbed the note and pills off her bed stand and stuck them in his car so her parents wouldn't think she took pills and killed herself.
"I know doing that was -- was stupid, but I was trying to save some embarrassment for her," the doctor told investigators, according to the affidavit. Asked why he hid the items, Hess said, "I have no idea. I mean that -- that whole thing was a -- was a fuzz for me."
During the 911 call, the emergency operator told Hess, "Try not to touch anything."
He replied, "Yes ma'am."
Hess was arrested Tuesday on a misdemeanor obstruction of justice charge and was released a short time later after posting $637 in bail. Henderson assistant city attorney David Mincavage said the nonviolent misdemeanor charge carries a maximum $1,000 fine and six months in jail.
Authorities have not said whether Blasberg was being treated by Hess.
A Blasberg family attorney told ESPN he is in the process of determining the exact nature of the relationship between the golfer and Hess, but Blasberg's father, Mel Blasberg, told "Outside the Lines" that he believes Hess and his daughter were involved in an "intimate" relationship.
Hess was unavailable for comment Wednesday, according to a person who answered the phone at his medical office. Calls to Hess' lawyer, Charles Kelly, were not immediately returned.
The Clark County coroner's office ruled Tuesday that Blasberg's death was a suicide due to asphyxia and toxic levels of prescription medications for headaches, cough, pain and anxiety.
The drugs in Blasberg's system included butalbital, temazepam, alprazolam (Xanax), codeine, hydrocodone, and tramadol, according to the coroner, but Nevada law doesn't permit the release of details on the amounts of medication.
A 911 call from Hess that summoned police came from the house. Officers found Hess outside the home and Blasberg's body inside. Blasberg's agent has said her bags were packed for a tournament in Mobile, Ala., when she was found.
Hess, who has said he was a friend of Blasberg who "knew her from the golf club," told a death scene investigator he played golf with Blasberg on May 7, two days before she died, at the Southern Highlands Golf Club. They met afterward at the M Hotel and Casino to watch a game on TV and left in separate cars about 9 p.m.
The next evening, Hess talked to Blasberg by telephone and he said she sounded intoxicated. He drove to her Henderson home and found her drunk, the affidavit said. He emptied bottles of liquor, ordered her to take a shower upstairs and they both watched TV on a downstairs couch until he left at 9 p.m.
Hess said he called her several times the next day and got no answer, so he drove to her house and found her dead.
Blasberg grew up in Southern California, and was in her sixth season on the LPGA Tour.
Her best year on Tour was 2008, when she earned a career-best tie for eighth at the SBS Open in Hawaii and more than $113,000 in winnings, the LPGA said.
Blasberg played in one event this season, tying for 44th in the April 29-May 2 Tres Marias Championship in Morelia, Mexico.
Information from The Associated Press contributed to this story.