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Doctor, 44, Found Dead at Home of Producer : Probe: Body discovered in pool house of Don Simpson. There are no signs of trauma, officials say.

TIMES STAFF WRITERS

A Pacific Palisades physician has been found dead in the pool house at the Bel-Air home of Don Simpson, one of Hollywood’s most prominent action film producers.

Stephen W. Ammerman, 44, whom police described as Simpson’s “doctor and friend,” was found naked in a shower.

There were no signs of trauma on the body, coroner’s office spokesman Scott Carrier said.

“It’s being investigated as a natural--question mark--accidental--question mark--death,” Carrier said. “A doctor doesn’t up and die for no apparent reason.”

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Carrier said an autopsy and wide-ranging tests for drugs and alcohol will be performed, probably today.

LAPD homicide Detective Brad Roberts on Tuesday night declined to detail the probe’s direction, but added, “Usually when a guy is 44 and appears healthy, the most likely scenario is a drug overdose.”

Simpson and his partner, Jerry Bruckheimer, rank among Hollywood’s top producers, with three hit movies this year alone--"Bad Boys,” “Crimson Tide” and the just released “Dangerous Minds,” which was the top box office earner this last weekend.

Simpson declined to comment Wednesday.

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“Mr. Simpson is too upset to talk with the press at this point,” said his attorney, Robert Chapman.

The attorney called Ammerman “an acquaintance” of Simpson’s who had spent at least part of Monday with the producer.

“As I understand, he came by for a visit,” said Chapman. “I was told at some time during the day on Monday, he and Mr. Simpson had gone jogging together. I believe that was in the afternoon.”

Later, Chapman said, Ammerman asked if he could spend the night in Simpson’s pool house. On Tuesday morning, one of Simpson’s assistants found Ammerman dead there.

“Someone told Mr. Simpson,” Chapman said. “The police were called as soon as it was discovered.”

Roberts said police were summoned at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday.

Simpson also immediately called his attorney, Chapman, and the private investigator Anthony Pellicano, who has done work for Simpson in the past, Chapman said.

When Chapman arrived at the house, Pellicano and two uniformed LAPD officers were there.

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“Finding a dead body on one’s property is not a common thing,” Chapman said, “so I suspect one would call just about all of one’s representatives.”

Ammerman was a native of Idaho who graduated from the University of Oregon. He was divorced and had one son in his early 20s.

Sources said Ammerman met Simpson at a private gym in Santa Monica more than five years ago and had been visiting with him at his home on Stone Canyon Road on a daily basis since July. Sources said Ammerman started writing screenplays two years ago and began talking with Simpson in July about helping him shop his scripts in Hollywood.

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Times staff writers John M. Glionna and Virginia Ellis contributed to this report.


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