As part of the police “investigation” into Elvis’s death on the afternoon of August 16, 1977, Sgt. John Peel asked nurse Tish Henley if Elvis had taken any medications just prior to his death, and she replied that he had taken, “two Valium, five milligrams, and one other pill…”
That’s all she said. Peel notes that this brief interview took place after he had spoken with Nichopoulos out on the back porch at Graceland, and that Henley had been summoned to the porch to provide this information. In the Memphis Police Department report, Peel writes that, “Dr. Nichopoulos talked with the victim’s private nurse in the presence of [Peel and another officer]. We learned from Nurse Henley that to her knowledge Mr. Presley had taken two Valiums, five milligrams, and also to her knowledge, he had taken one other pill during the late evening or morning.”
- Henley states that Elvis took “one other pill” but does not identify that pill.
- Sgt. Peel interviewed Henley and noted this statement about “one other pill,” but (presumably) failed to ask Henley what “one other pill” Elvis had taken.
I don’t know which is worse: Henley not naming the pill, or Peel not asking about it.
Now, there are multiple reports and claims about the medications/drugs Elvis ingested that day, and yet according to the live-in nurse, who is charged with controlling and dispensing these medications, she does not know anything about any other drugs being given to Elvis, and she is not able to identify this “one other pill.” How do we know this? Lies of omission. Same with Dr. Nichopoulos. If ever there were a moment when crucial information was required, this was it: a police officer asking what drugs a deceased person had taken just prior to death while under the care of this doctor and this nurse. And yet both remained virtually silent. Dr. Nichopoulos mentioned “high blood pressure” as one of Elvis’s medical/health issues, and said Elvis was not suffering from any sort of heart disease (though he conveniently remained silent again when Dr. Francisco said Elvis did have some degree of heart disease). He also mentioned an upper respiratory infection, and a chronic colon problem, for which Elvis was taking medication. He volunteered no other health information, and no other medication/treatment information, according to Sgt. Peel. He also offered no information on any drugs Elvis may have been prescribed or may have ingested that day, even though he knew that Elvis had received pain medication from the dentist, and Dr. Nichopoulos himself had prescribed Dilaudid early that morning.
The list of Elvis’s ailments and Dr. Nichopoulos’s prescription-writing acrobatics would be quite lengthy, so we’ll leave that out for now. But suffice it to say, there was a lot of information Nichopoulos could (and should) have provided at this point. His silence speaks volumes.
Nurse Henley failed to mention that she kept a stockpile of medications in her trailer that was used for Elvis’s treatment and pain management (this is a generous term), and that she was providing Elvis pretty much any drug he asked for, or that Dr. Nichopoulos directed her to provide. Remember, though, that Nichopoulos said he trusted Henley to make these dispensing decisions on her own.
And what about “the packets” that morning?
What about the medication for Ginger, which Elvis had requested?
A lie of omission is the intentional exclusion of important information. Were these informational exclusions intentional? Of course they were.
From “The Death of Elvis,” page 304: “[Henley, from the Nichopoulos trial] said she kept no records of when or how she dispensed drugs to Elvis. But from memory she was able to recite the drugs he took: The sedatives and painkillers were Placidyl, Nembutal, Quaalude, Percodan, Dilaudid, Demerol, Empirin [with] codeine and Tylenol with codeine; the uppers were Dexamyl and Biphetamine.”
Yet when questioned by police on what drugs Elvis was taking, or may have taken that day, the day that Elvis died, Henley simply said, “two Valium and one other pill.” But wait. Also on page 304 of “The Death of Elvis,” the authors quote Henley from the Nichopoulos trial saying that she sent over, “two Valmids and a Placidyl placebo.” They also mention that the only manufacturer’s placebo that Nichopoulos used was for Dilaudid.
Valmid is not the drug she mentioned to Sgt. Peel.
Where did this Placidyl placebo come from?
And more importantly, if we look at the prescriptions written by Dr. Nichopoulos to patient “Elvis Presley” from January 10, 1976, to August 15, 1977 (per the DEA investigation/audit), we see zero Valmid prescriptions. If Dr. Nichopoulos didn’t write this prescription, who did? Why was Dr. Nichopoulos directing his nurse to dispense this medication? Or did the nurse make that decision on her own?
To be fair, the words “Valium” and “Valmid” could be misheard, mistaking one for the other. But if we look at that same list of prescriptions covering 19 months, there is only one Valium prescription in tablet form, and that prescription is dated February 9, 1977. Could a few pills in August be leftovers from the February supply? Probably not. But what did Dr. Nichopoulos always tell us? That these massive prescription numbers meant he was providing medications for the entire touring crew. There were multiple short tours from February to June that year…did Dr. Nichopoulos simply send over the remaining pills to Nurse Henley’s Backyard Pharmacy®? Hmmm. (More on this very soon.)
And one other thing: Henley stated to Sgt. Peel that the Valium pills were 5 milligrams each. The February 9 prescription was for 10 milligram tablets. The implications are clear.