Just before news of Elvis Presley’s death came to Graceland, his Aunt Delta hurried upstairs to his bedroom. She knew that if police were to come and investigate his space, they would find evidence of his drug use. Longtime Graceland maid and cook Nancy Rooks shared why she thought Delta decided to do this.
Elvis Presley’s aunt cleared the drugs out of his room after his death
After paramedics took Elvis to the hospital, the household collapsed into worry and grief. Delta, who had helped run the house, maintained a clear head and rushed upstairs to Elvis’ bedroom. She recruited Rooks to help her clean.
“Aunt Delta probably held up better than the other family members,” Rooks wrote in her book Inside Graceland: Elvis’ Maid Remembers. “She also realized that certain things needed to be done immediately, still in the protective mode of always trying to protect Elvis. Almost as soon as Elvis was taken from Graceland, she grabbed me by the arm and said, ‘Let’s go. We’ve got to go upstairs and get rid of some things before the investigators get here!’”
Though Rooks wasn’t sure what they had to get rid of, she followed Delta upstairs. Delta informed her that they should get rid of “any medications, needles, and such, just in case Elvis died and the police showed up to investigate his death.”
They both took trash bags and threw away any evidence of drugs they could find.
“I didn’t think anything about it being illegal, I was just doing as I was told to do by Aunt Delta,” she wrote. “I was still trying to grasp what had just happened, not really allowing myself to even think that Elvis could be dead. It was just too inconceivable for me to even think such a thought. I think, in the state of mind and fear that I was experiencing, she could have asked me to do just about anything and I would have at least attempted to do it, out of the sense of shock that I was feeling at that time.”
Nancy Rooks said Aunt Delta wanted to protect her nephew from scandal
Though Delta and Rooks cleared up as much as they could, they weren’t able to get everything.
“My heart was racing, as was evidently the case with Aunt Delta as well, as we tried to make sure we got everything,” she wrote. “Apparently we didn’t do the best job in the world. Several needles were later found by the investigators.”
They threw out everything they had collected in trash cans behind Graceland. Delta had been one of the people to bring Elvis drugs on the last day of his life, but Rooks didn’t think she was trying to protect herself. Instead, she wanted to ward off the scandal that would inevitably fall onto her nephew.
“Looking back on what we did, I know that Aunt Delta was trying to protect Elvis,” she wrote. “All of what I picked up had prescription labels attached, so I know they were all legal drugs. Whether Elvis should have been taking so many different prescriptions is probably another matter altogether. But, then again, Elvis was Elvis, and it was not our job, nor was it possible, for us to protect him from himself.”
Priscilla Presley noted how clean Elvis’ room seemed after his death
According to Rooks, investigators would eventually find evidence of Elvis’ drug use. Still, they did a good job of cleaning up his room. When Priscilla Presley arrived at Graceland for the funeral, she noted how neat the room was.
“I went up to Elvis’ private suite, where we had spent so much of our life together,” she wrote in her book Elvis and Me. “The rooms were more orderly than I’d expected. Many of his personal belongings were gone; his nightstand was bare of books.”
In his dressing room, though, Priscilla felt Elvis’ presence more strongly.
How to get help: In the U.S., contact the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration helpline at 1-800-662-4357.