Scott Baio, Erin Moran’s former co-star on Happy Days, has refused to apologize after appearing to speculate on-air that Moran died due to drug and alcohol abuse, just hours before officials in Indiana announced she had in fact likely died from complications of stage 4 cancer.
“My thing is, I feel bad because her whole life, she was troubled, could never find what made her happy and content. For me, you do drugs or drink, you’re gonna die,” he said during an interview with The Bernie & Sid Show on Monday morning.
Baio took to Facebook to defend his comments early Tuesday morning, saying he was “very heartbroken over her passing, especially since it was cancer.”
Baio had said during the interview that he was “not completely shocked” by his co-star’s passing.
He said, “I knew Erin well. Over the last many years, I have not spoken with her. She was just an insecure human being and fell into this world of drugs and alcohol. Again, I don’t know if that’s what killed her, I’m sure it was a culmination of years and years of doing it that might have had something to do with it. She just never found her way.”
Baio swiftly became the target of social-media vitriol after the actual likely cause of death was released by officials, who also said they had found no drugs at the scene.
While a fulsome public apology would clearly have been in order, Baio instead took to Facebook to defend himself this morning, where he attempted to wriggle out of the controversy and alleged that he had been misinterpreted.
He said that he had not suggested Moran had died of a drug overdose, but only said that “if” she had it would have been a terrible thing.
Baio also claimed on Twitter that he was being attacked “only” because of his support for Donald Trump.
On his Facebook post, Baio wrote that after his wife received a text message saying Erin Moran had died on Saturday afternoon, he “was sad, in disbelief, sick to my stomach, and in complete shock.”
On Sunday evening, he wrote, “the Internet and television stations were blasting headlines ‘Erin Moran died due to a heroin overdose.’ This made me very upset and angry. This is one of my worse fears for her, or anyone else. Especially in this business. I was on an emotional rollercoaster. I hadn’t slept well since the news of her passing.
“Monday, April 24th at 6AM Pacific time I did a live radio interview. I was asked ONLY about Erin’s troubled past due to drug and alcohol abuse. I was still upset and said I felt that living that kind of a lifestyle will catch up with you and nothing good would come of it.”
Baio stressed this interview took place before the likely cause of death as cancer was announced.
“Now it seems every news outlet and tabloid wants to paint a different picture of me and of what really happened. They’re stating that I’m saying drugs caused her to die after it was reported stage 4 cancer. This is so wrong! Now I truly understand the meaning of ‘Fake News.’ This is crazy.
“I’m also trying to process this loss. Erin was my very first real girlfriend. My wife and Erin contacted each other and spoke often for over a decade. I even had her on my reality show years ago. I DID reach out to her over a span of 30 years.
“Please stop assuming the worse in me. I’m a compassionate person. I’m very heartbroken over her passing, especially since it was cancer.”
The Harrison County Sheriff's Office said Monday a “joint investigation into Mrs. Moran’s death was conducted” and “a subsequent autopsy revealed that Mrs. Moran likely succumbed to complications of stage 4 cancer.”
The sheriff also said “standard toxicology tests were performed and the results are pending, however no illegal narcotics were found at the residence.”