A sad – and some might say inevitable – conclusion to the story of 20 year-old American fashion model Randy Johnston, a former Dior Homme advertising star, who died in mysterious circumstances on October 11. Beyond web gossip - which included numerous anonymous comments left on this blog, which I was unable to put up at the time - no official cause of death has hitherto been provided. And there was good reason for that: the Medical Examiner in Hartford, Connecticut, which was Johnston’s home state and the location of his death, took some time to release its findings. Eight weeks later, frockwriter can reveal the Hartford Medical Examiner’s verdict: accidental heroin toxicity. Yes, aspiring musician Randy Johnston died from a heroin OD, just like his hero Sid Vicious - the person he told models.com he would most like to meet. Contrary to the rife net speculation that Johnston overdosed at a “Ford party” however – which, needless to say, would have been extremely awkward for Ford Models, the agency which repped Johnston at the time of his death – according to the New London Police Department, Johnston was found at “a friend’s house” at Bank Street, New London. Although the case is now officially closed, it does beg a few questions.
According to Captain William Dittman, the head of investigations at the New London Police Department, Johnston died at 5.47pm on Saturday 11 October.
Johnston was found on a couch. It is possible, said Dittman, that Johnston and friends were at another location beforehand.
However Dittman’s department believes that Johnston is most likely to have overdosed at the Bank Street house, then fell asleep and simply never woke up.
The New London Police Department has ruled that there are no suspicious circumstances.
Two other parties were present and a small amount of heroin was found on the premises. Neither Johnston nor the other parties, were known to the New London Police.
According to postings by web forum users claiming to be Johnston’s friends, the 20 year-old had been struggling with a heroin problem for some time.
At the time of Johnston's death, a LiveJournal poster who goes by the handle “amandar057” noted:
“he had stopped modeling spring 2007 and came home, did not work, and just spent all of his money on heroin”.
According to “Chump”, who claims to have been one of Johnston’s best friends while growing up:
“Randy was a great person...that succumbed to drugs, to those who want to know. It isn't slander, he really had a problem that everyone that knew him tried to help him with....
“PS: Fuck the modeling industry for introducing him to the nice little coke parties held up in modeling houses. You fucking assholes need to keep in check what your EMPLOYEES are doing to keep themselves looking that slender”.
Drug-related deaths are of course not uncommon – and occur in all walks of life.
What seems odd in this case, is that Johnston appeared to be continuing to enjoy a high profile modelling career at the time of his death, with a fresh editorial in Britain’s i-D magazine, starring opposite top Dutch model Lara Stone, along with other work.
If Johnston had a heroin problem, it seems strange that one of the world’s biggest model agencies continued to trot him out for work.
Did the agency know?
Did it not know?
Did it care?
Frockwriter has sought comment from Ford Models on several occasions, to no avail.
However earlier this morning, we did finally manage to get through to a spokesperson by the name of Lauren Harris, who noted:
“Ford is not commenting on anything”.
It's little wonder that Ford won't be drawn on the subject. A heroin overdose is not great for business - particularly anyone involved in the image-conscious fashion business.
But that’s a business, curiously, which glamourises drug use.
From junkie Amy Winehouse, a recent muse of Karl Lagerfeld, Chanel and Guess? Jeans, to junkie Pete Doherty, the erstwhile inspirational muse of former Dior Homme designer Hedi Slimane - who revolutionised the menswear market with his über skinny silhouette, which many have dubbed “heroin chic”.
And not forgetting Kate Moss, whose earnings doubled after the so-called Cocaine Kate scandal, in which Moss was photographed snorting cocaine with her then boyfriend Doherty.
Yes, drugs are fashionable.
Tell that to Randy Johnston’s parents.