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McCartney died in Tucson; spokesman admits deception

• Reports of assisted suicide are ‘ludicrous,’ the publicist and a family friend say.


Linda McCartney died in Tucson, in the privacy of the ranch home she shared as a retreat with her ex-Beatle husband and their four children, a family friend says.

And Paul McCartney’s spokesman admitted today he misled the media about where she died, and he described reports of an assisted suicide as ”ludicrous.”

”Linda did not die in Santa Barbara, Calif.; 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.

Baker said he misled reporters to protect the family’s privacy.

”Let them have one tiny, private place,” he said.

That place, he hinted today, is the family’s 151-acre Tucson ranch, which the McCartneys bought near Redington Pass in 1979 as a sanctuary from public life.

”Paul (McCartney) doesn’t want to attract attention to Tucson,” a family friend, who asked not to be identified, said last night, referring to why the family originally said Linda McCartney died while vacationing in Santa Barbara.

The friend also said her death from cancer was ”absolutely not assisted suicide.”

Pima County and state officials are keeping mum on whether they hold a death certificate for Linda McCartney, 56, while Santa Barbara authorities are investigating where and when she died.

”Everyone has always assumed that it was Santa Barbara, Calif. So, in an effort to allow the family time to get back to England in peace and in private it was stated that she had died in Santa Barbara,” Baker said.

McCartney reportedly died Friday at 4 a.m. from breast cancer, which had spread to her liver. Her death was announced Sunday, after her family members said they had returned to England with her ashes.

Reporters worldwide have deluged the Pima County Medical Examiner’s Office, which must authorize cremations. The office has referred all calls to Baker.

Death certificates are public record in California, but not in Arizona. Santa Barbara sheriff’s officials have not located a California death certificate for McCartney.

Pima County attorneys said they were deciding whether to disclose whether an Arizona death certificate existed for the former photographer, who studied art at the University of Arizona from 1964 to 1965.

But the state yesterday told the county it will decide the legality of disclosing the existence of death certificates.

Renee Guadino, state registrar of vital statistics, refused comment yesterday, saying death certificates weren’t public record.

Brad Christian, registrar spokesman, said later that even commenting on the existence of a death certificate was against the department’s policy.

”That would be disclosing the name of the person on the death certificate,” Christian said. ”I can’t even say a vital record exists for Joe Blow.”

James C. Mitchell, a media law lecturer at UA, said confirmation of the existence of a record isn’t necessarily precluded by the vital records law.

”It seems to me that’s one of those areas open to interpretation, and they’ve chosen to interpret conservatively,” he said.

Mitchell said the open records law should apply to death certificates.

”Here, in this McCartney situation, you have a wonderful argument for making this kind of record open,” he said. ”If the record were made public, then there wouldn’t be any public doubt. These questions could be quickly resolved.”

Meanwhile, Baker dismissed reports that someone assisted McCartney’s death after her threeyear battle with cancer.

”Any suggestion that her death was assisted is complete and absolute rubbish, a total nonsense,” he said yesterday.

As Santa Barbara County sheriff’s deputies gear up for an investigation, so far they haven’t contacted Pima County deputies about the whereabouts of the death certificate, said Brad Foust, Pima County sheriff’s spokesman.

”We know nothing, and we have not contributed to the (Santa Barbara) investigation in any way,” Faust said.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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