Asked on a witness stand what caused the years-long rift with her daughter, Anna Nicole Smith, Virgie Arthur's answer was quick and to the point: "Drugs."
Although Arthur, who is in court battling Smith's companion, attorney Howard K. Stern, for custody of her body, testified for only a few minutes Tuesday, the dead beauty queen's mother described her daughter as out of control.
Arthur said her daughter would sometimes call at odd hours in a "drugged" condition.
In one phone call, Arthur testified, Smith said, " 'Mom, don't go to work tomorrow because I think you're going to get killed.' ... This was at 4 a.m. I go to work at 6."
Asked what kind of drugs Smith took, Arthur said she was on Valium and another drug, the name of which she could not remember. "She liked downers," Arthur said. "She didn't like uppers."
Their relationship, she told Circuit Judge Larry Seidlin, went sour in 1995 or 1996. Since then, she said, her daughter kept in contact "off and on -- not very often. She'd call me in the middle of the night."
Arthur, a former police officer, testified that she raised Smith's son Daniel as a small child. She said she never met Stern, and believes her daughter fell into bad company and drug abuse. She will return to the stand Wednesday.
Examiner: Bury her now
As the legal battle over Smith's burial dragged on Tuesday, a medical examiner called the judge to report that the condition of the former Playmate's embalmed body continues to deteriorate.
As a result, Smith's body should be buried no later than Saturday, Broward Medical Examiner Joshua A. Perper said.
Stern was on the witness stand when Seidlin took the call. Stern buried his head in his hands.
The medical examiner's call brought a renewed sense of urgency to a courtroom spectacle that is unfolding with all the overripe elements of pulp fiction.
Among the key moments:
Stern and Arthur are battling over custody of Smith's remains and other issues. The former television reality show star collapsed and died February 8 at a casino hotel near Hollywood, Florida.
The stakes are huge -- perhaps $88 million or more. Smith's heir or heirs stand to inherit a stake in her longstanding claim to the $1.6 billion fortune of her late husband, Texas oil baron J. Howard Marshall II.
But first, Smith must be laid to rest.
Arthur wants to take Smith's body home to Texas to be buried in the family plot.
Stern insists Smith wanted to be buried in the Bahamas, next to Daniel. Stern still lives there with Smith's baby, 5-month-old Dannielynn, who was born three days before Daniel died in his mother's hospital room.
"Anna was very firm," he testified. "The Bahamas was her home. That's where she wanted to raise Dannielynn, and she wanted Daniel to be near her."
Stern said Tuesday that he and Smith had been "more than friends" since around 2000. The relationship was not exclusive, he said.
"She had other boyfriends in between," he testified. "I wanted her to be happy."
Stern is one of at least three men who claim to be Dannielynn's father. His name is on the child's birth certificate. He testified that he and Smith had planned to be married this week.
"She was my best friend, my lover, the mother of my daughter. She was everything to me, literally everything. My whole world," a somber Stern told the hushed courtroom.
Stern said Smith had an unusually close relationship with her son because she was young when she had him. "They grew up together," he said.
"Anna and Daniel were inseparable," Stern added. "Daniel was without question the most important person in Anna's life. From the time I met her, everything was for Daniel."
"I would say that physically, she died last week, but in a lot of ways, emotionally she died when Daniel died," he said.
Stern described conversations he had with Smith about burial plots, both before and after Daniel's death. Initially, she wanted to be buried near Marilyn Monroe, and Stern said he looked into burial plots in Westwood, California. Later, he said, she decided Daniel should be buried in the Bahamas.
"Then she wanted me to look into how secure the ground plots were and whether bugs could get to a body, because both she and Daniel were afraid of bugs," he said. "And once that concern was alleviated ... she picked out two double plots side by side that Daniel is currently resting in and where she wants to be as well."
Smith's former boyfriend, Larry Birkhead, who also claims to be Dannielynn's father, attended Tuesday's hearing with a team of lawyers. One of them said he might testify on Arthur's behalf.
Exchanges between the factions were sometimes heated.
At one point, one of Stern's attorneys complained to the judge that one of Birkhead's attorneys had just accused Stern to his face of killing Smith.
Stern's team tried to keep the proceeding focused on the issue of custody of the body.
All sides, and the judge, stated repeatedly that the welfare of the little girl was their primary concern.
In her will, released Friday, Smith left everything to Daniel. She also named Stern as executor, according to the document dated July 30, 2001. The 16-page will was never updated. It does not mention Dannielynn.
Clouding an already murky legal scenario, some language in the will seems to exclude any of Smith's future spouses or children.
Yet in other sections, it refers to Smith's "children," instructing the executor, for example, to manage the estate "such that my children are distributed sufficient sums for their health, education and support."