Prince kept dozens of prescription painkillers stashed in various rooms in his house, it emerged on Monday, as police continue their investigation into how the singer obtained the powerful opioid fentanyl that killed him.
Some of the pills were disguised in over-the-counter bottles for aspirin or vitamins. Others were labelled with prescriptions made out in the name of his aide, Kirk Johnson.
The bottles were found in his bedroom, dressing room and laundry, after the singer was found dead in the lift of his Minnesota home, Paisley Park.
Coroners said that the cause of the 57-year-old’s death, on April 21 last year, was an overdose of fentanyl, which is often used to manufacture counterfeit pills sold on the black market as oxycodone and other pain relievers. Prince, a Jehovah’s Witness, was famously clean living but suffered from a long-term hip complaint.
On Monday warrants were released showing that, between the singer’s death in April and September 2016, investigators were looking into the extent to which Mr Johnson – an aide of the singer’s since the 80s – had helped him procure drugs.
Among the pills seized were 20 and a half white pills inside a bottle for over-the-counter anti-inflammatories; 64 and one-quarter pills in a Bayer-branded bottle; and another 15 in a second-floor dressing room.
Michael Schulenberg, the doctor who treated Prince for the hip pain in the weeks before his death, told investigators that he had prescribed the singer oxycodone on April 14, a week before the fatal overdose, “but put the prescription in Kirk Johnson’s name for Prince’s privacy.”
Mr Johnson, who had unrestricted access to Paisley Park, told the investigators that he had limited knowledge of Prince’s dependence on painkillers.
On the day before the singer’s death, Mr Johnson said he went to a local Walgreens pharmacy to pick up three prescriptions issued by Dr Schulenberg for drugs often used to treat anxiety; according to the court papers, he said it “was the first time he had ever done something like that for Prince.”
Investigators have said they are most concerned with who obtained the fentanyl, and have yet to charge anyone in Prince’s death.
They noted in court records that those who were present at the home that morning “provided inconsistent and, at times, contradictory statements.”
“The investigation remains active at this point,” said Jason Kamerud, chief deputy for the Carver County Sheriff’s Office.
“We’ve gained a lot of progress over the last year, but there still is some more work to be done.”