WASHINGTON (Reuters) - New York police said on Thursday they had yet to determine the cause of death of prominent French academic Richard Descoings, whose naked body was found in his room at a mid-town Manhattan hotel two days ago.
Paul Browne, chief spokesman for the New York Police Department, said on Thursday the death on Tuesday afternoon was still under investigation. While an autopsy has been completed, Brown said, “We don’t know the cause of death yet.”
He said police were awaiting results of toxicology tests, which may not be completed for two weeks. Evidence of foul play in Descoing’s death had not been established, Browne added.
In initial reports following the discovery of Descoing’s body, police sources suggested that because his room was in disarray, there were suspicious circumstances in the death. However, investigators later concluded that emergency personnel threw the room into disarray during efforts to revive Descoings.
Investigators now believe Descoings had one or more visitors in his hotel room the night before his death. However, the last time the visitors are known to have been in the room was about 10:30 p.m. on Monday.
The next morning, after Descoings failed to show up as scheduled at a conference at Columbia University, his colleagues phoned his hotel. Hotel staff have indicated to investigators that when they checked outside Descoings’ room at 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday at the request of his colleagues, they are convinced he was snoring and still alive.
His dead body was not discovered by hotel personnel until about two hours later.
A law enforcement source said investigators remain puzzled that Descoings’ cellphone and laptop computer were recovered from a landing several floors below his room, having apparently been thrown out his window.
Police are investigating the possibility that Descoings’ death was caused by a mixture of alcohol and prescription drugs.
Descoings, 53, was serving as director of the Paris Institute of Political Studies and chief administrator of the French National Foundation of Political Science.
The two bodies are among the most prestigious public policy research and teaching institutions in Europe.
Reporting By Mark Hosenball in Washington; editing by Todd Eastham