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Heir To Billions May Have Lived With Wife's Body For Days In Britain

Eva Rausing, right, and her husband Hans Kristian Rausing in 1996.
Alan Davidson
Eva Rausing, right, and her husband Hans Kristian Rausing in 1996.

"Detectives are investigating whether one of the heirs to the Tetra Pak drinks carton fortune lived with his wife's body for up to a week after her death in their Belgravia mansion in London," The Guardian reports.

If you're just catching up to this news from the U.K., as The New York Times says in the story leading its website at this moment, "the tale — entwining ultrarich philanthropists, a history of drug abuse and many unanswered questions — has seized British headlines since Monday."

Eva Rausing, a 48-year-old American and one of Britain's richest women, was found dead at her London home on Monday. Her husband, 49-year-old Swedish-born Hans Kristian Rausing, "has been arrested in connection to suspected drug crimes and police want to question him about the circumstances of his wife's death," The Associated Press writes. "He is currently receiving medical treatment in a London hospital."

The couple met about 25 years ago at a drug rehab clinic. In 2008, the BBC writes, "Mrs. Rausing and her husband ... faced drug charges after crack, heroin and 52g of cocaine were found in their home. Mrs. Rausing had been arrested after she allegedly tried to smuggle small amounts of crack cocaine and heroin into the U.S. embassy in London. Charges were then dropped and a caution issued instead."

Though they had struggled with drugs themselves, the couple were also known for their charitable work on behalf of addiction treatment centers.

The family's wealth comes from the Tetra Pak business started by Hans Kristian Rausing's grandfather — it developed packaging that "permitted milk to be kept fresh without the need for refrigeration," the Guardian writes. Hans Rausing Sr. — son of the company's founder and father of Hans Kristian Rausing — had a net worth of about $10 billion as of March 2012, according to Forbes. That made him No. 88 on the Forbes list of billionaires.

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Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

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