Truth About Karen Carpenter’s Death and the Whereabout of Her Husband Thomas James Burris

Several names and bands have reached the pinnacle of success in American Rock and Roll over the years. One of them was Karen Carpenter, who was one half of the duo, The Carpenters, along with her brother, Richard. Karen Carpenter’s voice and singing talents made her one of the most admired women in music, which was why it came as a shock when her death was announced in February 1983, at the age of 32.

Dying at such a young age drew the attention of fans and observers, including conspiracy theorists who were unconvinced of the reported circumstances of her death.

More than three decades since she has passed, her death continues to be a subject of interest to music lovers. In this article, we took a look at the truth about the death of Karen Carpenter and the whereabouts of her husband, who has been at the center of the conspiracy theories surrounding her death. Check it out.

Before Her Death, Karen Carpenter Battled with Anorexia for most of her life

Before Karen Carpenter became a nationally renowned personality, she suffered from anorexia. It began in high school where she began dieting. With the help of doctors and a personal trainer, she combated anorexia off-and-on throughout her teenage and adult life.

Her battle with anorexia led her to engage in drug abuse. She used thyroid replacement medication to increase her metabolism and she also consumed up to 80-90 tablets of laxatives per night. This resulted in unhealthy weight levels for the singer, whose weight went as low as 41kg.

Multiple attempts by doctors to wean her off her irrational drug use did not take, until September 1982. A medical emergency after she complained of irregular heartbeat forced her to be admitted to Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

After her time in the hospital and surviving the throes of death, Karen Carpenter returned to a stable healthy weight.

She Died from Years of Drug Abuse

Unfortunately, despite gaining a healthy amount of weight during her time in the hospital, the years of internal damage caused by the repeated abusive use of an over the counter emetic drug, ipecac syrup.

Four months after she left the hospital, on the 4th of February, she collapsed while she was in her parents’ home in California. Although the paramedics were on the scene while Karen Carpenter still drew short irregular breaths, she was officially pronounced dead at 9:51 am.

An autopsy conducted on her revealed she suffered from emetine cardiotoxicity. It was believed to have been caused by years of abusing laxatives and thyroid medication.

Her death had a positive impact

Karen Carpenter’s death was met with great sadness by both her family and millions of fans of the singer. However, the pain of her loss was not the only thing to come out of her death.

Being a popular figure who suffered greatly from anorexia, her death resulted in great media attention to the disease and helped improve research on how to further combat the illness.

A foundation, Karen A. Carpenter Memorial Foundation, was also established to raise money for research and awareness about anorexia and other forms of eating disorders.

Where is Karen Carpenter’s Husband, James Burris Now?

Thomas James Burris and Karen Carpenter
Karen Carpenter and her husband, Thomas James Burris

James Burris gained fame or rather notoriety for his marriage to the music icon. He was married once and divorced before he tied the knot with Carpenter. He had one son from his first union and a vasectomy afterward which he refused to reverse so Karen could have her children. This led to the deterioration of their union.

Burris has been accused of indirectly causing Karen Carpenter’s death. For instance, their meeting which was supposed to be natural was alleged to be planned by Burris who wanted to get a hold of the singer’s fortune, no wonder went on a spending spree which forced Karen into huge debt. He also reportedly abused her emotionally sending her further into depression. She was in the process of finalizing their divorce and was meant to sign the final papers on the day she died.

After Karen’s death, Burris attended her burial where he tossed his wedding ring into her casket. Then, he gave an interview, exonerating himself from her death. He stated that while she was having health issues, he had work problems. He also said that they had a happy life until some differences drifted them away from each other.

His whereabouts are not known; there is no trace of his death so we can’t assume he is dead. He is also not on social media and hasn’t made the news in recent years.

Fact Check: We strive for accuracy and fairness, if you've found a possible error, be it factual, editorial or something that needs updating, please contact us
Ernestina Ginikanwa
Ernestina is a writer who loves telling stories and being up to date with recent news headlines. The limited free time she can carve out is for catching up on her favorite TV shows and spending more time with her family.

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