Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Coroner’s Verdict: Cocaine Killed Dead American Billionaire

Hans and Eva Rausing at a dinner hosted by Geordie Gregg editor of Tatler.

Hans and Eva Rausing at a dinner hosted by Geordie Gregg editor of Tatler.

The circumstances surrounding the death of Eva Rausing, whose husband Hans Rausing is a heir to a multi-billion dollar fortune, could not have been more bizarre. Not long after police arrested Hans Rausing for an unrelated offense, he confessed that he had lived in the same room as Eva Rausing’s corpse for several weeks in their London flat. Instead of reporting her death, Eva Rausing’s husband continued to binge on crack cocaine and other drugs while covering up her body with towels and clothes. He also sealed the cracks in the bedroom door with duct tape to hide the smell of her decomposing body from the domestic staff who worked in the house. After a London criminal court cleared Rausing of the responsibility of his wife’s death earlier this year, the official coroner’s report issued last week described how the effects of cocaine abuse further damaged her diseased heart, which resulted in her death.

While police originally suspected foul play, Rausing was given a 10-month suspended sentence for a “decent and lawful burial” after investigators were unable to determine whether he might have been responsible for his wife’s death. Alexander Cameron, the brother of UK Prime Minister David Cameron, served as his defense attorney.

During the inquest, Rausing testified that he was too grief-stricken to react to her death and said that she had gone on a trip to California whenever someone asked about her whereabouts.

Police initially arrested Rausing for possession of cocaine after he was pulled over in London for driving erratically. When they later searched the house, the couple’s Filipino employee tried to block the police from entering Eva Rausing’s room, shouting “out of bounds, out of bounds,” according to the Daily Mail.

Eva Rausing

Eva Rausing

Eva Rausing’s death is a tragic conclusion to Eva Rausing’s long history of addiction troubles that she shared with her husband. In 2008, the U.S.-born heiress was arrested with her husband for attempting to smuggle drugs into the U.S. Embassy in London. A search of their Chelsea house after the embassy bust revealed their personal stash of cocaine and heroin. The couple avoided a jail sentence by agreeing to enter a drug treatment program.

After their arrest, Eva Rausing showed signs that not only she was suffering from bouts with drug addiction, but that she feared for her life as well.

This week in an email published by the Daily Mail, written in January 2010 by Eva Rausing to her father-in-law, but never sent, the mother of four wrote that she expected to die soon: “I realize that I will die and there is a part of me that desperately does not want to die and wants to fight, fight, fight but I am sliding and I am desperately calling to you for help,” she wrote. “If nothing changes I will die, Hans. I just felt that I did not want to die without trying everything that I possibly could to reach you and to ask you to please help me. Your son feels very, very hopeless. Although I stick close to him, I am losing my grip because I am weakening.”

On her still active Myspace page, she wrote that her musical interests in Nirvana, Ziggy Stardust, and Radiohead were good for “gloomy moods.” “Could say I’ve been a wee bit down lately!” Rausing wrote.

Rausing also posted on her Myspace page about falling “back into the same hole as before and have been there for nearly seven years.” “I once read that I would have seven bad years (I don’t normally believe in hocus pocus horoscopes) but so far it has been right, and I’m hoping for seven good years starting 2007,” she wrote. “I’m still married, amazingly, to a very kind, patiend [sic] and loyal husband. I’m very lucky that he has stuck with me-many would have not.”

During the weeks and months leading up to Rausing’s death, friends and relatives were unable to establish contact with either Eva or Hans Rausing. Her sister reportedly visited the house in June, but was unable to find Rausing at home. Eva and Hans Rausing also looked disheveled in photos that London’s paparazzi press published earlier this year during the rare occasions when the couple left the house.

Despite Rausing’s personal problems, she continued to make generous donations to charitable foundations. In 2006, she wrote a $391,000 check to the Raisa Gorbachev Foundation. She also reportedly donated millions of dollars to drug rehabilitation clinics in the UK and in Barbados, although there is little evidence that she or her husband received treatment at the facilities that she helped to fund.

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