BOCA RATON, Fla. – Broward County’s former chief medical examiner, Joshua Perper, who catapulted to fame after concluding Playboy Playmate Anna Nicole Smith died at the Hollywood (Fla.) Hard Rock Hotel and Casino from an accidental overdose in 2007, has passed away at the age of 88.
Perper, who lived in Boca Raton, conducted the examination and autopsy of the model and actress. He soon became a fixture at TV news conferences after getting caught in the middle of the courtroom drama over who would actually get Smith’s body as it sat in his morgue for weeks after her death. Smith’s mother, boyfriend, and father of her daughter, were all fighting over her final resting place.
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He served as Broward County’s chief medical examiner for 17 years.
Smith’s death wasn’t his first high-profile autopsy. On July 2, 1995, the sister of supermodel Niki Taylor, Krissy Taylor, died at the family’s Pembroke Pines home. She was 17. Perper determined her cause of death was an asthma attack, which subsequently brought on heart failure. He stuck by his findings despite the family hiring independent experts who concluded she had an undiagnosed, rare heart disease.
And he autopsied Baltimore Orioles pitcher Steve Bechler who died while in Fort Lauderdale in 2003 at spring training camp. It was Perper who said that it was a combination of heatstroke, but also stated that contributing to the 23-year-old’s sudden death was the over-the-counter weight loss drug Xenadrine RFA-1.
Born on Dec. 17, 1932, in Bucharest Romania, Perper was a forensic pathologist, doctor, lawyer, a published author of eight books and more than 500 medical articles and, a poet, according to his obituary. He died in hospice, the Sun Sentinel reported, from heart and lung problems.
He was married to wife Sheila Perper, who passed away in 2005, for 54 years and has three children, and seven grandchildren.
Funeral services are set for July 14 at 11:15 a.m. at the Gutterman Warheit Memorial Champel, 7240 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton.