Robin Williams' Death: New Details Revealed

Celebrity News Aug. 13, 2014 AT 6:20PM
Robin Williams Graphic new details about the death of Robin Williams were revealed during a press conference on Tuesday, Aug. 12. Credit: Ben Gabbe/Getty Images

Robin Williams hanged himself with a belt after his wife had gone to sleep Sunday night.

Those are among the graphic new details to emerge about the death of the 63-year-old entertainer at a press conference Tuesday. 

[Related: Robin Williams: The Family He Leaves Behind]

Speaking from prepared notes, Marin Sheriff's Lt. Keith Boyd said that Williams's wife, Susan Schneider, went to bed at 10:30 p.m. on Sunday. Williams later retired in a different bedroom of their home in Tiburon, California, a small town in the San Francisco Bay area.

In the morning, Schneider left the home, thinking Williams was still sleeping. His assistant later came to the house and, concerned about the actor, went into the bedroom and discovered his lifeless body at about 11:45 a.m.

Williams died as a result of death by asphyxia, said Boyd. The actor was partially clothed and suspended from a belt that was wedged between a closet door and the door frame. The assistant told officials he was cold to the touch and rigor mortis had begun to set in. The iconic comedian was pronounced dead at 12:02 p.m. Monday.

Williams's wrist also had several acute superficial wounds on his left wrist thought to be from a pocket knife that was found nearby. His body was transported to Napa County Sheriff's Morgue for the autopsy, which took place Tuesday morning.

Boyd would not confirm whether a note was left behind nor would he reveal whether it was Williams's first suicide attempt. He did state that Williams was being treated for depression. And authorities had not been called to the home for previous incidents.

[Related: Robin Williams,1951-2014: His 19 Most Memorable Movie Roles]

News of the beloved actor's suicide spread quickly Monday afternoon, but the details were sketchy. Officials said the actor was last seen alive at about 10 p.m. on Sunday. An emergency call from his home was placed just before noon on Monday. He was discovered unresponsive and pronounced dead at the scene from what the sheriff's department described as apparent suicide due to asphyxia. The Napa County Coroner's Office conducted an autopsy Tuesday morning  but an official cause of death isn't expected for several weeks pending the results of toxicology tests.

His third wife, Schneider, whom he married in 2011, issued the following statement Monday: "This morning, I lost my husband and my best friend, while the world lost one of its most beloved artists and beautiful human beings. I am utterly heartbroken. On behalf of Robin's family, we are asking for privacy during our time of profound grief. As he is remembered, it is our hope the focus will not be on Robin's death, but on the countless moments of joy and laughter he gave to millions."

His daughter Zelda, 25, posted an emotional tribute on Twitter, declaring, "I love you. I miss you."

[Related: Remembering Robin Williams's Best TV Moments]

Williams, who has been candid about his struggles with alcohol and cocaine, went to rehab in June — just after his TV series The Crazy Ones was canceled. At the time his rep said, "He has been working hard and now has a break in his schedule, so wants to come back and be the best that he can be. This is his version of a retreat." His addictions were linked to the depression he suffered for much of his life. In an 2010 interview with the U.K.'s Guardian, he said that while working on the film Insomnia in Alaska in 2003, he felt "alone and afraid" and that led to him drinking as a way to cope and hurting his relationship with his family. "I was shameful, did stuff that caused disgust — that's hard to recover from," he said.

He spoke more in depth about his depression during a 2006 interview with NPR, saying that while he hadn't been diagnosed with clinical depression or bipolar disorder, "I get bummed, like I think a lot of us do at certain times. You look at the world and go, 'Whoa.' Other moments you look and go, 'Oh, things are OK.'"

Tributes have been popping up for the actor, from his contemporaries offering their condolences to fans flocking to places he was associated with to remember him. Makeshift memorials were set up outside the Mork & Mindy house in Boulder, Colorado, on the stairs of the Mrs. Doubtfire house in San Francisco, and on a bench in Boston Public Garden where he filmed a pivotal scene from Good Will Hunting.

[Related: Friends and Fans React to Robin Williams's Death]

Not all the attention has been positive. Fox News's Shepard Smith was in backtrack mode Tuesday, hours after referring to Williams as "a coward" for taking his life. Speaking to Mediate, Smith said, "To the core of my being, I regret it. It just came out of my mouth. And I'm so sorry. And to anyone and their families who see that, I am sorry."

Smith was not alone in facing outrage from fans. Former Diff'rent Strokes star Todd Bridges removed a Twitter post that called Williams's suicide "a very selfish act" and replaced it with a series of mea culpas. "I apologize for my negative comment, and I ask forgiveness for any pain that I have caused anyone," tweeted Bridges, explaining he was still reeling from a friend's suicide.

[Related: Robin Williams's Hidden Pain Revealed by Longtime Friend]

Earlier Tuesday ABC News issued an apology for coverage many deemed intrusive. The network showed aerial views of William's gated home, where he killed himself, and touted the footage with a special red banner at the top of its homepage: "Watch Live: Aerial Views of Robin Williams' Home." The social media backlash was instantaneous from fans who deemed it an invasion of his family's privacy in light of his wife's public plea.

"When we realized there was no news value to the live stream, we took it down immediately," ABC News said in a statement. "Our intention was not to be insensitive to his family, friends and fans, and for that we apologize."

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