Yesterday, we learned the sad news that Happy Days and Joanie Loves Chachi star Erin Moran had passed away at the age of 56.
Speculation about the cause of Erin Moran’s death has been rampant, but early on, there was not much in the way of definitive news.
That may have just changed.
The actress was fed through a gastrointestinal tube, or GI tube, at home with her mother-in-law, according to the coroner’s office.
Moran had been receiving treatment for Stage 4 cancer, with the tube in her throat to keep her alive during her tragic final days.
The source of this detail asked to remain anonymous pending further details to be released by the Harrison County Sheriff’s Dept.
However, they said the coroner found a GI tube during the examination, as well as “ample” evidence that Moran succumbed to Stage 4 cancer.
The specific type of cancer was not immediately clear.
“It was indicative when they did the autopsy that she was receiving medical care,” the source tells People, which reported the story.
A GI tube is usually inserted into the stomach by a physician to provide vital nutrients to patients who cannot feed themselves.
It can also be used to reverse the process, removing fluids from a person’s body when a patient is unable to perform the task.
The Sheriff’s office said the investigation is ongoing:
“Standard toxicology tests were performed and results are pending, however no illegal narcotics were found at the residence.”
“There were no illicit substances or anything to suggest foul play,” however, officials conducting the investigation reiterated.
If true, this would contradict earlier reports and speculation that Moran, who battled addiction for years, died of an overdose.
One of those who fueled that theory was her Joanie Loves Chachi co-star himself, Scott Baio, who spoke out in the wake of her death.
Baio appeared on the Bernie & Sid radio show today and wound up weighing in on the subject in a manner he may later regret.
Asked how he’s holding up, Scott says he’s not surprised she died: “I’m OK, a little shocked but not completely shocked that this happened.”
“My thing is … I feel bad because her whole life, she was troubled, she could never find what made her happy and content.”
“For me, you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die.”
Baio then tried to walk back that comment somewhat, saying, “I’m sorry if that’s cold, but God gave you a brain, gave you the will to live and thrive.”
“You gotta take care of yourself,” he added.
“I’m saddened by what happened. I don’t know if it was drugs that killed her, I read one report said it might have been and I hope …”
“I don’t know what I hope. It’s what it is.”
Moran was troubled by substance abuse issues throughout her life, that much is not in doubt; Baio may have jumped the gun, though.
Erin was pronounced dead Saturday at the trailer Moran shared in rural New Salisbury, Indiana, with her husband’s mother.
“To my knowledge, they had their own room,” the source said.
Both Moran’s husband, Steven Fleischmann, and his mother, Donna Woods, have remained out of the public eye since her passing.