Robin Williams’ death leaves friends, fans with questions
An iconic Bay Area tunnel, commonly known as the Waldo Tunnel or Rainbow Tunnel, will be named after the late actor Robin Williams.(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
As the investigation into Robin Williams’ death continues, friends and fans are still trying to process why he took his own life.
Preliminary results of the forensic exam indicate the cause of death was “asphyxia due to hanging,” said Lt. Keith Boyd, assistant deputy chief coroner for the Marin County Sheriff’s Office, on Tuesday. A time of death has yet to be established.
Toxicology tests, which are expected to take two to six weeks, will reveal whether Williams had any alcohol or drugs in his system.
Boyd said Williams had been receiving “treatment for depression” but declined to offer more details.
Friends told The Times that Williams seemed to be pulling away recently.
“He started to disconnect,” comedian Rick Overton, a friend of Williams’ since the 1970s, said Tuesday. “He wasn’t returning calls as much. He would send texts and things like that, but they would get shorter and shorter.”
In a Times review of Williams’ last few months, friends said he wrestled with the cancellation of his CBS series “The Crazy Ones” and fought to maintain his sobriety.
Neighbors said they were stunned by his death.
On Monday, people who live in the area expressed sadness at their neighbors’ death.
Kelly Cook, 50, called him “brilliant,” as well as “really quiet and private.” An avid cyclist, he was often seen riding the Paradise loop, which hugs the Tiburon peninsula.
Cook’s children called him “the funny man” and would greet him as such when he was out walking his pug, Lenny (after another famous comedian). He joked around easily with them, Cook said, “because they were kids.”
“It’s just so sad when depression takes someone like that,” she said, sharing that her good friend had also committed suicide.
On Tuesday, authorities provided more details about his death.
Rigor mortis had already set in by the time Williams’ assistant discovered the body in a slightly elevated position with a belt around the neck, Boyd said.
The assistant, whose name was not released, called 911 at 11:55 a.m. Monday to report the incident.
Williams, 63, also had recent, but superficial cut marks on his left wrist. A pocket knife was found near his body, with a dried substance resembling blood.
Williams and his wife, Susan Schneider, were alone Sunday night in their home, which fronts San Francisco Bay, Boyd said. Sheriff’s officials had previously said Williams was last seen at 10 p.m., but Boyd said Schneider retired to a bedroom at 10:30 p.m.
Schneider left home at 10:30 a.m. the next day, believing her husband was OK, Boyd said. At 11:45 a.m., the personal assistant became concerned when Williams failed to respond to knocks at his door, Boyd said.
When the assistant entered, Williams was unresponsive, clothed and “cool to the touch,” Boyd said. The belt was wedged between the closet door and the door frame, Williams’ right shoulder was touching the door and his body was “slightly suspended,” as though in a seated position.
Tiburon Fire Department personnel pronounced Williams dead at 12:02 p.m., Boyd said. Due to concerns about photos being taken or released, his body was taken to Napa County for an autopsy, Boyd added.
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