Disturbing Details Found In Elvis Presley's Postmortem Report

Elvis Presley — the king of rock 'n' roll — is practically a mythic figure in pop culture, and as such, legends and lore surround both his life and his death. The circumstances of Presley's untimely 1977 death at just 42 years of age have been debated, with some even claiming to have spotted the legendary musician in the years that followed, per NME. The official story — and the one accepted by most people — is that Elvis Presley died in the bathroom of Graceland, his famous Memphis, Tennesse home.

A brief, two-page medical examiner's report completed after Presley's death is public record (via Autopsy Files). This document — which appears to be dated October 20, 1977, more than two months after Presley's death on August 16 — was completed by Shelby County, Tennessee Medical Examiner Dr. Jerry Francisco, and sheds some light on how Elvis was found. It also reveals some cursory information about Elvis's death. An autopsy was performed as well — however, it wasn't ordered by the district attorney general, but instead by Elvis' father, Vernon Presley. The results of the autopsy were then sealed until the 50th anniversary of his son's death, per Express. This has been challenged on several occasions, including once in the early 1980s by the ABC TV program "20/20," but to no avail (via The New York Times).

The medical examiner's report offers some information, but not all

The report features some basic information about Presley including his full name, Elvis Aron Presley, and his address, which was 3764 Elvis Presley Boulevard — this is, of course, where you'd find Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee. Also listed are his race, sex, and age, and the agency investigating his death was listed as "SCME & MPD," which stands for Shelby County Medical Examiner and Memphis Police Department.

What is maybe a little unusual is that some physical information that most would assume is fairly relevant to a death investigation is notably absent. While Presley's eye and hair color are noted, as is his lack of facial hair, the fields for weight, length, body temperature, and date and time were all left blank. It's well known that toward the end of his life, Presley put on a significant amount of weight, with the Mirror reporting that at one point, he weighed in at 350 pounds.

Additionally, a figure for Elvis' weight could have perhaps shed some light on one of the rumored factors in Elvis' death: constipation. According to Mary Roach's "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal," constipation was a very real problem for Elvis and he received enemas and laxatives daily to deal with the condition. It's rumored that Elvis had what is known as a "megacolon" which was filled with impacted material (via NBC News). 

Elvis' injuries and probable cause of death

Dr. Francisco lists Elvis Presley's manner of death as "natural" and there are some additional details that point to a probable cause of death. By the time the medical examiner took a look at Elvis' body, he had reached rigor mortis, a stiffening of the deceased's joints and muscles that can sometimes shed some light on whether a body was moved after death (via Science Direct). 

The next spot on the report is for liver or livor color, which Dr. Francisco marked with an indistinct letter along with a checkmark in the "Fixed" box. The "livor color" marked on the death report likely refers to livor mortis, which has to do with how the decedent's blood pools in the body after death (via Osmosis). This can help determine the time of death, as livor mortis becomes fixed (or, the skin doesn't turn white with applied pressure) after eight to 12 hours. It can also help medical examiners determine the cause of death as well. 

In the section of the report labeled "Marks and Wounds," it is noted that Elvis had "Congestion to face & upper torso." Additionally, diagrams note that Elvis had a pressure mark near his left eye and sutured thoracotomy on the left side of his abdomen. The medical examiner also listed a probable cause of death, "H.C.V.D. associated with ASHD" which according to Preslaw, is shorthand for hypertensive cardiovascular disease associated with arteriosclerotic heart disease.

The circumstances of Elvis' death

The medical examiner's report also sheds some light on how Elvis was found and the situation surrounding his death. Presley was reportedly last seen alive at 8 a.m. on the morning of August 16, 1977. Elvis was found in his home at 2:00 that afternoon, and the police were notified at 3:30. His time of death is listed at 3:30 and it's noted that Presley was dead on arrival at "BMH," which is shorthand for Baptist Memorial Hospital in Memphis. The person who found Elvis was his girlfriend, Ginger Alden, and it includes a note that Alden found Presley on the "floor of dressing room," though it's now widely known that she found him in the bathroom of his master bedroom, per PBS.

Also noted in the report is that an autopsy was performed at Baptist Memorial Hospital. This autopsy had become a point of contention over the years because of how Vernon Presley chose for it to remain sealed for 50 years, per Express. It is set to be unsealed, however, in 2027.