Death of heiress investigated by police

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The death of Casey Johnson, a Hollywood socialite who was heir to one of the world's largest business empires, is being investigated by police in Los Angeles.

The body of the 30-year-old, whose great-great grandfather, Robert Wood Johnson, founded the pharmaceuticals giant Johnson & Johnson, was discovered on Monday at her home in West Hollywood. She had apparently suffered a drug overdose.

Investigators are awaiting the results of toxicology tests before detailing the exact circumstances of the discovery, though Ms Johnson, pictured left, had a long history of alcohol and substance abuse. Fox News reported before Christmas that she had been "barely able to stand up straight" at a recent showbusiness party.

"It appears to be a natural death, and there's no evidence of foul play," said a police spokesman. "A toxicology report from the coroner's office will proceed next." Officers were unable to give a date or time of death, leading to widespread speculation that her body lay undiscovered for several days.

Ms Johnson, daughter of billionaire Woody Johnson, was a childhood friend of Paris Hilton who was brought up in moneyed circumstances which she later described as "golden handcuffs." She had achieved notoriety as an occasional star of reality television and first appeared on TV in a 2002 documentary with Ms Hilton called The It Girls.

In a statement released yesterday, the Johnson family said it was "mourning its tragic loss, and asks for privacy during this very difficult time".