Anna Nicole Smith Suspected in Murder for Hire Plot

MIAMI -- The FBI investigated whether Anna Nicole Smithplotted to kill her tycoon husband's son as they battled for hisfather's fortune, but the former Playboy Playmate who died in 2007was never prosecuted, newly released files show.

FBI records, obtained exclusively by The AssociatedPress, say the agency investigated Smith in 2000 and 2001 in amurder-for-hire plot targeting E. Pierce Marshall, who was at thecenter of a long legal fight to keep the starlet from collecting his father's oil wealth, valued in thehundreds of millions.

The younger Marshall died three years ago ofnatural causes.

The documents released under the Freedom of Information Actdepict an investigation going on as the fight raged over J. HowardMarshall II's estate.

Vast sections of the 100 pages of releasedmaterials - a fraction of Smith's full FBI file - are whited out,and no evidence of her involvement in such a plot is detailed.

There is no indication how authorities became aware of anyalleged scheme, but agents interviewed Smith on July 3, 2000.

Toldwhy she was being questioned, "Smith began crying and denied evermaking such plans," a report said.

"Smith adamantly denied ever contemplating such a crime," anagent wrote, and prosecutors eventually agreed the case could notgo forward.

An April 26, 2001, letter to the FBI from Sally Meloch,an assistant U.S. attorney, said she reviewed the reports but"determined that there is insufficient evidence to establish thatthere was a murder-for-hire plot by Ms. Smith to kill PierceMarshall."

Reached at her Los Angeles office on Tuesday, Meloch didn'trecall the case, but said, "Any investigations that we didn'tproceed with, we couldn't comment on anyway."

An attorney for Smith's estate, Kent Richland, was surprised bythe allegations.

"I have not heard anything about that," he said.

An attorney for the Marshall estate, including for the youngerMarshall's widow, said he couldn't immediately comment.

Smith was 26 when she wed the 89-year-old Marshall, owner ofGreat Northern Oil Co., whose wealth was estimated by Forbes to be$550 million in 1992. They met while she was a topless dancer at aTexas strip club.

He died of natural causes in 1995, little more than a year afterthey wed. His son died in 2006 at age 67 of an infection and Smithdied of a drug overdose a year later at age 39 after collapsing inher South Florida hotel room.

The FBI files show a .357-caliber Smith and Wesson revolver wasconfiscated from Smith's home, along with a 3½-inch stainless steelknife and, for reasons that were not explained, a black and orangehat described as "Dr. Seuss." All three objects were returned toher about seven months later.

Agents reviewed tape recordings of phone calls involving Smithduring their investigation, though transcripts were not included inthe released materials. Among the things that were included wereagents' scribblings in spiral-bound notebooks, accounts of Smith'spast arrests for drunken driving and battery, and an interview ofthe younger Marshall.

In that June 27, 2000 interview, Marshall said Smith rarelyspent time with his father after their 1994 marriage and said hisfather complained that she asked for $50,000 to $60,000 twice aweek.

Smith's lawyer and companion Howard K. Stern and two doctors,Dr. Sandeep Kapoor and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich, are charged inCalifornia with helping the model obtain drugs that ultimatelykilled her. All have pleaded not guilty.

The dispute between Smith and the Marshall estate has bouncedaround courts for years.

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously in 2006 that Smith couldpursue her late husband's fortune, overturning an appellatedecision, which continues to be fought in California. The moneybecame a factor after Smith's death, too, with Stern, her mother,and another boyfriend all fighting over an estate that ultimatelywill go to her daughter, who is now 3.

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