Paul McCartney's spokesman admitted Thursday he had misled the media about where Linda McCartney died and described reports of an assisted suicide as "ludicrous."
"Linda did not die in Santa Barbara; she died in another place," Geoff Baker told NBC's "Today" show, acknowledging that he had been the source of reports that she had died in Santa Barbara, Calif.The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department has said it will investigate why no death certificate had been filed for Linda McCartney, who died Friday from breast cancer at age 56.
Baker said he misled reporters to protect the family's privacy. "Let them have one tiny, private place," he said. He hinted that reports Linda McCartney died on the family ranch in Tucson, Ariz., were correct.
McCartney himself called Thursday for an end to the speculation.
"Our family has received many beautiful messages of sympathy from ordinary people around the world," McCartney said in a statement released through Press Association, the British news agency.
"Reading their messages, we know that ordinary people would want our request for simple privacy to be respected. This is a personal request from me."
Baker lashed out at reports of an assisted suicide he said originated in the media.
The suggestion "that there was some form of assistance in this death is just preposterous and ludicrous, absolute nonsense," Baker told "Today."
The Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Department said Wednesday the investigation would not be dropped until the location of Linda McCartney's death could be verified.
"We would like nothing better than to call off this investigation," Lt. Deborah Linden said. "But we need official confirmation of the location of her death, and the family spokesman is not enough."
Dr. Larry Norton, Linda McCartney's New York oncologist, said Wednesday she died of natural causes.
The Arizona Daily Star and KVOA-TV of Tucson quoted unidentified sources as saying the Pima County medical examiner authorized her cremation. They reported a University of Arizona cancer specialist signed the death certificate.
Pima County and state officials said death certificates are exempt from Arizona's public records law and cannot be disclosed.
"There are legal issues involved concerning patient privacy," Dr. Sydney Salmon, director of the university's Arizona Cancer Center, told the Daily Star. "I really take offense at this type of thing. Patients are entitled to privacy, whoever they are."
A British newspaper, The Independent, quoted locals as saying Linda McCartney's body was cremated at Tucson's Bring Funeral Home. A worker there refused to comment.
Half of her ashes were scattered at the Arizona ranch, unidentified sources close to the McCartneys were quoted as saying Thursday in The Arizona Daily Star. The remainder was brought to the family farm south of London.
The McCartneys bought a 150-acre ranch east of Tucson in 1979 and were known to use it as a get-away.