COEUR d'ALENE - A national celebrity journalist among conspiracy theorists, but considered an anti-Semite by some members of the Jewish community, Michael Collins Piper, 54, died alone in a local motel room in late May.
The news is being quietly debated online, and in the tradition of Piper's life work, conspiracy theories about his death are starting to emerge.
Piper was found by a housekeeper in room 216 of the Budget Saver Motel on Sherman Avenue on May 30, but had obviously died prior to that date, according to Coeur d'Alene Police reports.
The manager of the motel told police that Piper checked in on May 14, and was scheduled to check out June 4. The manager told police he last recalled seeing Piper on the morning of May 29.
When police went into the room to identify the body, Piper had strange blisters on his back that were weeping fluid, so the patrol officers called in detectives and contacted the coroner's office.
"He had multiple blisters forming on his neck and right elbow," the responding officer wrote in his report. "Also, something appeared to be soaking through his shirt on his back."
The officer reported that Coeur d'Alene Fire Department was also on the scene and said the blisters and stain on Piper's back looked "very odd."
As police waited for the detectives to arrive at the scene, the responding officers contacted a guest, Chad Dalton, who had been living in room 217 for about a month. Dalton told police he had only met Piper briefly before his death, but he added that he did hear tapping noises coming from Piper's room around 11 p.m. the night before his body was found.
When detectives arrived at the scene, they began taking photographs and investigating the room. They found several pieces of mail with the name Michael Collins Piper on them, and one of the detectives thought the name was familiar.
"He remembered this name being related to a male who was a conspiracy theorist," the detective wrote, adding there didn't appear to be any signs of foul play, and the room was locked from the inside when the body was found.
When Deputy Coroner Lynn Acevedo arrived she told detectives she thought the blisters were from accelerated decomposition of the body because its was 80-85 degrees in the room, and she said certain medical conditions could speed that process too.
The detectives and coroner decided at that point to slate the body for an autopsy, but eventually the procedure was canceled.
While moving the body, police found Piper's wallet, which contained a large amount of cash in $5 bills, and they were able to confirm Piper's identity. He also had a card in his wallet that said he had a heart valve replacement in April 2014.
One detective looked through Piper's computer tablet and found additional information about him, including the fact that Piper had suffered a heart attack in 2013 and had diabetes.
The coroner said diabetes would accelerate decomposition, but she would attempt to contact Piper's doctor to better understand his medical issues.
"Michael appears to have had some medical issues with his heart and is a possible diabetic," the detective concluded in his report. "There was no evidence anyone was involved in a criminal act to cause the death of Michael, and this death appears to be of natural causes."
After talking with his doctor, Acevedo told detectives that Piper was a non-compliant diabetic along with his heart ailment, and she was going to rule the death as "natural."
Acevedo wrote in the coroner's report that the cause of death was a "probable Myocardial Infarction, Ischemic Cardiomyopathy and Coronary Artery Disease," and listed diabetes as another significant condition.
The coroner's report also indicates that toxicology results were consistent with her findings and that no autopsy was conducted.
"This case is being closed and there is no need for further investigation," the detective wrote in his final report.
Another detective was able to contact Piper's close friend Mark Glenn, of Careywood, who told him that Piper had been living with him for approximately five months, but a house fire had forced Piper to find a new rental home in Coeur d'Alene on Seventh Street.
Glenn told police that Piper had moved all his possessions into the house, and was living at the motel until he could get his things unpacked.
"Glenn also told me Michael was in very bad health," his report said. "Michael was crippled to a point and could barely walk."
Glenn did not respond to a Press request for an interview. On his blog, theuglytruth.wordpress.com, Glenn wrote that he helped move Piper to Idaho after Piper was terminated from his job at American Free Press. AFP is a weekly digital and print publication often cited as anti-Semitic. Glenn indicated Piper left the publication on bad terms.
That termination and Piper's death have many of his readers now speculating if there was a conspiracy involved.
"Did Israel Assassinate Michael Collins Piper," reads the headline in a story published by Veterans Today, a website that describes itself as a journal for the clandestine community.
"Collins led the war against AIPAC (American Israel Public Affairs Committee) and the ADL (Anti-Defamation League) and the Kosher mafia when others now considered 'experts' knew nothing at all," wrote Veterans Today senior editor Gordon Duff, in the article published June 3. "News quickly spread about his 'heart condition' and how he died of natural causes. Then again, Abe Foxman is still alive and Netanyahu's attic portrait is oozing hideousity."
Duff wrote he believes Piper was likely murdered.
"Moreover, I also believe his heart condition was induced as well," he added.
The confusion prompted Wikipedia to flag the death information on Piper's page as unfounded and in need of citations. The website posted a link to its "talk page" for people to discuss the details of Piper's life and death.
Piper's brother, Tom Piper, of Pennsylvania, said he could not tell The Press much about his brother's journalism career because he had moved away and spent most of his life in Washington, D.C.
"I don't know anything about his career," he said.