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Thursday, April 15, 1999 Published at 09:21 GMT 10:21 UK


Tammy Wynette exhumed

Tammy Wynette: Died last year aged 55

The body of Tammy Wynette has been exhumed from her grave in an attempt to settle a dispute over how the country music legend died.

A new autopsy was conducted on her a week after three of her daughters filed a wrongful death lawsuit against her doctor and her husband and manager, George Richey, claiming they were responsible for her death 12 months ago.

Richey said he had requested the autopsy because of the allegations made against him.

"I'm profoundly saddened her children are willing to drag their mother's closely-guarded private life into the public, leaving me with no choice but to respond," he said.

Husband 'saddened' by 'fiasco'

"I'm saddened that out of frustration over financial matters, her daughters have been willing to work so hard to discredit their mother. I'm saddened that part of Tammy's legacy is this fiasco."

He added his late wife had not wanted to be autopsied or cremated.

"Tammy was a woman who knew what she wanted in life and death," he said.

Tennessee chief medical examiner Bruce Levy conducted the autopsy on Wynette, who was entombed at Woodlawn mausoleum in Nashville. A report will be made in four to six weeks.

Lawsuit filed last week

Last week, Georgette Smith, Jackie Daley and Tina Jones sued Richey and Wynette's doctor Wallis Marsh for $50m in compensatory damages and an unspecified amount in punitive damages.

The three daughters allege Marsh gave the singer powerful narcotic drugs and Richey had "improperly and inappropriately administered narcotics to her and failed to see she would receive necessary medical treatment".

Earlier this year, the coroner refused a request for a new autopsy, saying there was insufficient evidence to allow Wynette's body to be exhumed. But now, he said, Richey's request allowed him to proceed.

Wynette died on 6 April last year aged 55. She had long suffered from intestinal illness and other health problems. At the time her death was put down to natural causes, and Marsh said it had been caused by blood clots in her lungs. He issued a statement last week denying any wrongdoing.

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