A top forensic pathologist fears Prince may have been duped into taking a familiar painkiller laced with Fentanyl in the hours before his death last year (Apr16).
Dr. Michael Hunter studied the music icon's health records for a new U.S. TV documentary in the Autopsy series and his extensive research has led him to believe the tragic star reached for his Percocet pills to help him cope with the pain of a drug withdrawal, not realising he was taking something much stronger.
Prince was found slumped in the elevator at his Paisley Park compound in Minnesota on 21 April, 2016 and a local coroner later ruled he had suffered a Fentanyl overdose.
Dr. Hunter claims symptoms Prince's personal chef noticed in the days before his death suggest the Purple Rain star may have been suffering from drug withdrawal for a week before his death.
"The fever, nausea and cramps that he was experiencing, according to the chef, may have caused him to relapse and reach for what he thought was a familiar painkiller," the medic says in the revealing new documentary.
"I think that Prince probably didn't know that the pills he took that night (20Apr16) had Fentanyl in them. I believe Prince died from a tragic accident bordering on homicide."
The pathologist is convinced the music icon obtained his painkillers illegally as there were no records of an official prescription for the pills, which were found littered around his Paisley Park home.
Dr. Hunter also agrees with accounts of the music legend's alleged cocaine addiction, even though there are no medical notes documenting his use of the drug.
He claims the clue to the extent of the singer's drug problems lie in the medical report of his mid-air emergency a week before his death, when the pilot of a plane carrying the star home after a gig was forced to land in Moline, Illinois, when his famous passenger lost consciousness mid-flight.
Dehydration was listed as the reason behind the health scare, but Dr. Hunter notes paramedics on the scene gave Prince what's known as "a safe shot" to kick him back into life.
"In almost all cases the safe shot is given to someone who is thought to be having a drug overdose," he says.
His cocaine use fears echo those of Prince biographer Mick Wall and Michael Padden, the attorney for the star's step-sister, Lorna Nelson, who both feature in the new Autopsy documentary.
Padden claims his client feared her brother's cocaine use was so significant that she worried he would suffer a heart attack.
"Cocaine gave him energy to the point that he would have trouble falling asleep for days, and the reason that he took the Percocet was to come down from the euphoric high of the cocaine," the attorney explains.