By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Playboy's Nude Playmates
"The photos in the magazine might make some men look at me in a sexual way," she's quoted in the back of the magazine, "but I think most men do that as they pass me on the street anyway!"
Bridges was dead when the magazine was published. She died two months earlier in a luxurious Beverly Hills mansion owned by Edward Nahem, a longtime acquaintance of 76-year-old Playboy founder Hugh Hefner.
"Elisa Bridges, Miss December 1994, died Feb. 7 from natural causes in Los Angeles," read an official Playboy web page posted a few days after her death. "She was 28. The entire Playboy family is stunned and saddened by this terrible loss, and our thoughts are with her family and friends." Weeks later, the July 2002 issue of Playboy magazine reported, "The coroner has concluded that her death was due to natural causes."Natural causesThere was nothing natural about Bridges' death. The Los Angeles County Coroner's Office actually concluded that Bridges died of a massive accidental drug overdose. A drug overdose in a room where no drugs were found, in a house she didn't live in. How could a person die from too much heroin and not have any needle tracks? What time did she die? Nobody, including the coroner, knows. Natural causesWhat kind of natural causes kills a healthy 28-year-old woman? Pretty much what you'd expect: big money, big parties, big drugs. Every now and then, it gets to be too much, and someone ends up dead and then quickly forgotten. Then again, wasn't Bridges part of the famous Playboy promise that "Once a Playmate, always a Playmate"? One big, naked sorority stretching back to the first playmate, Marilyn Monroe, who died under mysterious circumstances.So maybe Elisa Bridges wasn't forgotten. Then again, not a lot of people are asking questions about her death. At least not out loud. No one wants to kill the party."Sorry, but no comment here," said one Playmate. "It's not my place to talk about what happened. I honestly would be surprised if anyone commented on it."Two days after Bridges' body was discovered, LA Deputy Medical Examiner Dr. Bethann Schaber performed an autopsy. Her findings were striking. "This 28-year-old Caucasian woman died as a result of acute multiple-drug intoxication," Schaber wrote. "Toxicology results are positive for heroin, methamphetamine, Alprazolam and meperidine."Bridges had been speedballing meth and heroin. It is similar to how John Belushi died. The Alprazolam in her blood was her Xanax prescription, and the meperidine in her urine was a heroin byproduct. But despite having enough heroin in her body to kill her, Schaber couldn't find any needle tracks on Bridges. There are ways to ingest heroin besides shooting it directly into the veins, but right now no one will say what happened.Schaber also located numerous bruises on Bridges' body—"minor blunt impact injuries of the extremities"—was how she described them in her report. There was an abrasion on Bridges' right elbow, left knee, right knee and right hip. How she got them is unknown, but Schaber did not figure them into cause of death conclusions."Based on the history, investigator's report, police report and autopsy findings as currently known, the manner of death is accident," concluded Schaber. Why exactly Bridges was in Nahem's house Feb. 7 is unknown. Her own spacious, two-bedroom Brentwood apartment was barely 15 minutes away. Nahem, 58, told police Bridges often stayed with him, always in the guest room. Her death certificate lists her time of death as 5:58 p.m., but that's just the time Nahem told the police he found her. There is no time of death estimated in her autopsy report. Nahem's home is not easily accessible. Two salmon-pink stories with white trim splayed out on a 41,000-square-foot lot, the house is hidden within the exclusive Benedict Canyon section of Beverly Hills. It's tucked away on one of those tight, winding roads accessible only to the rich, famous and their immigrant gardeners. Everything about the multimillion-dollar home is big: massive garages, stables and swimming pool, four spacious bedrooms and just as many baths. A few minutes before 6 p.m. on Feb. 7, Nahem said he drove up his steep, winding driveway, past his swimming pool and parked. He said he immediately noticed that Bridges' car was still in the driveway.Nahem did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. But he told the Los Angeles Police Department he had last seen Bridges the night before, shortly after midnight. Entering the guest room at 6 p.m., Nahem said he found Bridges still in bed, the blanket pulled up to her chin. Calling 911, Nahem said he and a man named Frank Lupera tried to revive Bridges by splashing water on her face and then with CPR. Nahem described Lupera as "another resident." (The Weekly was unable to contact Lupera.) Nothing worked. Paramedics arrived a few minutes later, but all they could do was pronounce Bridges dead.Nahem told the LAPD that Bridges had been a little depressed but certainly hadn't been contemplating suicide. She never smoked and was only a social drinker. If she used drugs, he said he never saw it.Nahem's story, that Bridges died quietly in bed, appears in the LAPD report. That report, written by Detective John Kades, raises more questions than it answers.Kades arrived at Nahem's house at 9:45 the night Bridges died. Once in the house, Kades talked with police officers who had arrived hours before. He talked to Nahem and Lupera. Then he headed to the guest room. He found no sign of forced entry or a struggle.Instead Kades found Bridges' body in the bed, just as Nahem said he found her."The decedent's clothing and personal effects are seen piled on a chair near the bed," he later reported. Then Kades made an extraordinary discovery: except for her prescription bottle of Xanax, the room contained "no illegal drugs or drug paraphernalia."Here was a dead girl, killed by drug overdose in a room with no drugs. If Kades asked Nahem how this was possible, he didn't include it in his report.