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Former Broward County ME who gained fame for Anna Nicole Smith autopsy dies at 88

Former Broward medical examiner known for Anna Nicole Smith autopsy dies
Former Broward medical examiner known for Anna Nicole Smith autopsy dies

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.

The Florida Files Podcast: The Death Of Anna Nicole Smith

"We found no evidence of foul play," Seminole Police Chief Charlie Tiger tells the press. Find out more about Anna Nicole Smith: 12 Years After Her Death in South Florida on the Florida Files Podcast. Subscribe Now! https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-florida-files/id1408109165?mt=2

Posted by The Florida Files Local 10 on Monday, April 15, 2019

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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.

About the Author:

Michelle F. Solomon is the podcast producer/reporter/host of Local 10's original, true crime podcast The Florida Files and a digital journalist for Local 10.com.