Julia Roberts’ half-sister, Nancy Motes, was found dead in Los Angeles from a suspected drug overdose on Sunday.Motes, 37, was reportedly found about 2 p.m. Sunday in the bathtub of a Westside home, where she was pet-sitting. She was found by her fiancé, John Dilbeck, a film and television locations manager. There was no evidence of foul play, according to law enforcement sources.
Roberts’ family issued a statement Monday confirming the tragic death, reporting that it was an apparent drug overdose, and expressing their sadness, shock and devastation.
Motes was the youngest sister of the Academy Award-winning actress, who became a star with her role in Pretty Woman when Motes was 13. The family grew up in Georgia before the elder children set off for New York and Hollywood. Julia, 46, and Nancy had the same mother but different fathers. The other siblings are actors Eric Roberts, 57, and Lisa Roberts Gillan, 48. Eric’s daughter is Actress Emma Roberts, 23. Like the other family members, Motes tried her hand at acting after high school, but was not as successful. She was most recently working as a production assistant on the television show Glee.
Los Angeles County coroner’s officials have made no final determination on the cause of death, but law enforcement sources and her family have indicated a drug overdose as the likely cause. Prescription and non-prescription drugs were found at the scene, a coroner official said. There were reports circulating that it was a suicide, but no note was found. An autopsy is being performed to determine the exact cause. In addition, toxicology tests are being conducted, but can take up to eight weeks to get results back.
Since the announcement that Motes was found dead, no reports have come forth indicating Julia Roberts’ half-sister had a drug problem. Half-brother Eric has struggled with drug and alcohol addiction issues and even did a stint on Celebrity Rehab with Dr. Drew for a dependency on medical marijuana.
Motes relationship with sister Julia was reportedly strained, but they were working on it. In an interview with The New York Daily News last August, Motes said Julia criticized her for years for being overweight and that it was hard to be the Pretty Woman’s fat sister. Tired of being judged for her weight, Motes underwent gastric bypass surgery two years ago. Since than, she had reduced her weight from 300 to 155 pounds. Her wedding was planned for this May.
Julia, who previously won a Best Actress Oscar for Erin Brockovich, is nominated this year for Best Supporting Actress for August: Osage County. Julia was scheduled to be at the annual Oscar nominees luncheon Monday, but did not attend. Motes death poses a challenge for Julia, who is doing publicity for her film leading up to the Oscars telecast on March 2. The Oscar-winner normally avoids talking about her personal life. However, questions will undoubtedly be raised to Julia Roberts in the coming weeks about the fact that her half-sister was found dead and their strained relationship.
By Dyanne Weiss