A homicide probe into the death of B.B. King will be launched after two of the blues legend's daughters accused his two closest aides, business manager LaVerne Toney and personal assistant Myron Johnson, of poisoning King prior to his May 14th death. In court documents released to The Associated Press, King's daughters Karen Williams and Patty King said, "I believe my father was poisoned and that he was administered foreign substances. I believe my father was murdered."
According to Patty King's affidavit, she said she witnessed Toney administer two drops of an unknown substance on B.B. King's tongue at night in the months before his death; Toney never told Patty King what the substance was. B.B. King gave Toney power of attorney years ago, the AP writes, as well as named her executor of his estate, which could be worth tens of millions of dollars.
Toney did not reply to a request for comment by Rolling Stone.
Nevada officials announced Monday that they would open a homicide investigation, adding that they now had jurisdiction over King's body and conducted an autopsy Sunday, Reuters reports. Results are expected to take six to eight weeks; the fact that King was embalmed and displayed for public viewing shouldn't affect those results, Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg said.
Brent Bryson, an attorney for B.B. King's estate – which now has Toney as executor – did not reply to a request for comment, but denied Karen Williams and Patty King's accusations to the AP, calling them "ridiculous" and "extremely disrespectful." "I hope they have a factual basis that they can demonstrate for their defamatory and libelous allegations," Bryson said. While Toney and Johnson didn't formally comment to the AP, Toney did say, "They've been making allegations all along. What's new?"
Bryson added that three doctors determined that King was being properly cared for in his final weeks while in hospice care, and that King received 24-hour care and monitoring "up until the time that he peacefully passed away in his sleep." In April, King was hospitalized with dehydration related to diabetes.
King had 11 surviving children at the time of his death; the family has hired attorney Larissa Drohobyczer to represent them. Three of those children went to court in Las Vegas earlier this month in a failed attempt to remove Toney's power of attorney over King. One of King's daughters, Shirley King, also told KLAS-TV after her father's death that Toney had cut off the family's access to the blues great.
"Just getting through this day is killing me," Shirley King said. "Why would she not let me see my daddy before he leaves this earth?" Another daughter, Rita King, said when their father was in hospice care, "We love him, and the reason he hasn't seen us is because we're being kept away."
Following a Beale Street procession and memorial scheduled for Wednesday in Memphis, King's funeral will be held May 29th and 30th in King's hometown of Indianola, Mississippi.