Jeff Rice may have been forced to take cocaine, which was found in his stomach

The mysterious death of freelance reality show producer Jeff Rice may have been caused by poisoning by cocaine, a combination of the information contained in the two initial reports about his death: his wife suspected poisoning , while police called it an overdose. But while cocaine was found in his stomach–an unusual place for that drug to be–the only thing that’s really clear now is that nothing is clear right now.

Anderson Cooper devoted a segment to Rice’s death on his CNN show tonight, quoting a police report that said Rice was found “seated in his chair, head bending over the table while bleeding through both mouth and the nose.” He also mentioned that while there was no signs of a struggle, “Ugandan police are investigating if they’d been forced to take drugs”; the show quoted an anonymous source who said that Rice and his assistant “may have been working on an investigative documentary and fear they might have been targeted.”

Both Destination Truth host Josh Gates and Whale Wars executive producer Liz Bronstein (who remembered Jeff in an e.mail to reality blurred earlier this week) appeared on Showbiz Tonight to talk about Rice’s death, and Bronstein said the drug report “doesn’t make any sense to me … I’ve known Jeff for four years; I’ve never known him to take any drugs at all, so that cocaine story just seems completely false.” Gates agreed, but pointed out there are “conflicting facts” and that independent journalists are only now starting to report on the story from Uganda.

A report from Africa quoted the police report, which said that there was “whitish powder in a plastic bag found at the scene [that] contained Acetaminophen, Caffeine, Acetylcodein, Diacetylmorphine and Papaverine, opiates classified as narcotics.” It also said that Rice and Kathryne Fuller were working on “a documentary in Uganda in collaboration with Hope Medical Clinics Uganda, affiliated to Starley Hearing Foundation based in Minnesota- USA which offers free hearing aids to hearing impaired victims.” (That actually refers to the Starkey Hearing Foundation, which is based in Minnesota.)

A doctor Anderson Cooper had on the show, who seemed to be evaluating possibilities without having any first-hand knowledge (i.e. Dr. Drew), suggested it could have been recreational drug use, but also pointed out that”cocaine in his stomach” is “not the normal route” for taking the drug.

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.