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It’s hard to believe, but it’s a year today since Heath Ledger was found dead in his apartment.

Here, OK! looks back at that heartbreaking 12 months, and what has become of the people who loved him most.

The shocking news that the star of Brokeback Mountain and 10 Things I Hate About You had died, slowly began to seep out overnight on Jan 22 2008.

The next morning, a throng of reporters and stunned, mourning fans began to fill the street outside his SoHo bachelor pad — and watched the terrible spectacle of his 28-year-old body being carried out in a black bodybag.

As more details slowly began to emerge, it became clear out that there had been bizarre activities frantically taking place behind the closed doors of the fourth-floor home, which would sparked a scandal that would rumble on for months.

At around 2:45pm on Jan. 22, Heath’s masseuse found him unconscious in bed. But instead of calling 9-1-1, she twice dialed the cell of actress Mary-Kate Olsen, who he had reportedly been dating for several months.

The masseuse finally called for an ambulance and Mary-Kate, who was in L.A., sent her bodyguard to the apartment, who arrived at the same time as the paramedics.

At 3.36pm, Heath Ledger was pronounced dead.

Later that day on the morning of the Jan 23 on the other side of the world in Perth, Australia, his shell-shocked parents, Sally and Kim, and sister Kate, read a statement confirming Heath’s "tragic, untimely and accidental passing".

They called him, "a down to earth, generous, kind-hearted, life-loving and selfless individual who was extremely inspirational to many."

The family quickly arranged a memorial service for their only son, and on Jan 26, his friends — including ex-girlfriend Naomi Watts — gathered at Westwood Village Memorial Park to comfort each other.

Michelle didn’t attend, but on Feb 1, she gave her own statement via Heath’s publicist. "My heart is broken," she said.

"I am the mother of the most tender-hearted, high-spirited, beautiful little girl who is the spitting image of her father," Williams said in her statement.

"All that I can cling to is his presence inside her that reveals itself every day. His family and I watch Matilda as she whispers to trees, hugs animals, and takes steps two at a time and we know that he is with us still. She will be brought up with the best memories of him."

She then flew to Australia with Matilda in time for another memorial service on Feb. 9. After the ceremony, 50 mourners — including Michelle, Kim and Sally — ran into the ocean together, many of them fully dressed, at one of Heaths favorite places, Cottesloe Beach.

Meanwhile, the investigation into the circumstances surrounding Heath’s death was getting into full swing.

On Feb 6, the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner of New York said that, "Mr. Heath Ledger died as the result of acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine."

"We have concluded that the manner of death is accident, resulting from the abuse of prescription medications," it reported.

Months later, in August, a battle to get Mary-Kate Olsen to testify in the investigation made front-page news. It was revealed that federal investigators wanted to ask the Full House star what she knew about where he got hold of the prescription drugs he had taken.

But Mary Kate and her lawyers had been holding out, demanding a guarantee that she wouldn’t be prosecuted if she talked. At the same time they insisted that she knew nothing about where the drugs had come from.

Then, in a surprising twist, on Aug 6, the US Attorney’s Office suddenly canceled the probe, and told Mary Kate she wouldn’t have to be questioned.

As the police investigation came to an end, another legal battle simmered over Heath’s $20million estate.

 

Because his will had been written before he met Michelle, neither she, nor Matilda were mentioned, but left it all to his sisters and parents.

After his death, his father, Kim, vowed that Michelle and Matilda would be "taken care of".

 

Eventually, however, the family decided that the entire sum would go to his little girl.

In August, Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell and Jude Law, Heath’s co-stars in Terry Gilliam’s fantasy The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus also touchingly decided to donated their paychecks from the movie to Matilda.

Although Michelle has continued to work and has fallen in love again, this time with movie director Spike Jonze, she has retreated to a quiet Brooklyn neighborhood where she can raise Matilda in peace, and try to get over Heath’s death.

"I wake up each day day in a slightly different place — grief is like a moving river," she told Newsweek recently.

"It’s a strange thing to say, because I’m at heart an optimistic person, but in some ways it gets worse. The more time that passes, the more you miss someone."

"Matilda never fully understood what happened when he died," a friend of Michelle’s recently told OK!. "It was heartbreaking when she asked for Daddy and Michelle had to explain that he wasn’t coming back."

"I want [Matilda] to have the plainest, simplest, most ordinary routine possible," Michelle said recently.

In a bitter-sweet moment, on Jan 11 Heath won a posthumous Golden Globe for Best Actor In A Supporting Role for his breath-taking Joker in The Dark Knight.

"For any of us lucky enough to work with him, he will never be forgotten," said the film’s director Chris Nolan, tearfully accepting the award on Heath’s behalf.

"Our movie is great. but he elected it to a completely different place," said Heath Ledger’s friend and Dark Knight co-star Maggie Gyllenhaal at the ceremony. "It’s hard to be that good in a movie that big."

 

Now Heath’s fans, friends and family will wait to see if he receives the ultimate tribute to his talent at the Academy Awards — after he received nomination for Best Actor In A Supporting role on Jan 22 2009 — and face their second year of life without Heath Andrew Ledger.

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