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Police Question Man Who Smoked Crack with Ruffin Hours Before Singer Died

June 4, 1991 GMT

PHILADELPHIA (AP) _ Police questioned a man who reportedly smoked crack cocaine with former Temptations singer David Ruffin hours before the singer died of a drug overdose, authorities said Tuesday.

The man is William Nowell, whom neighbors identified as the owner of the row house in West Philadelphia where Ruffin collapsed early Saturday, Detective Ed Tenuto said.

″We searched the premises ... and we also interviewed a lot of the parties, but we have nothing to report, no arrests, at this time,″ Tenuto said.

The Philadelphia Inquirer reported that Ruffin and Nowell split 10 vials of crack cocaine in a half hour when Ruffin arrived at Nowell’s house early Saturday in a borrowed limousine. Nowell said Ruffin already was intoxicated when he showed up, the paper said.

Nowell, 44, told the paper that Ruffin had stayed at his house often, but he denied that his home was a crack house.

Ruffin, 50, had recently returned from a concert tour of England with former Temptations singers Eddie Kendricks and Dennis Edwards.

Police have also interviewed the limo driver, Donald Brown of Philadelphia, who they said took Ruffin to the hospital.

Police said $10,000 in cash and an undisclosed amount in traveler’s checks Ruffin was carrying just before he died are missing. No one has been arrested.

Dr. Haresh Mirchandani, a city medical examiner, said Monday that Ruffin’s death was accidental and caused by an adverse reaction to cocaine. He wouldn’t say how much of the drug was in Ruffin’s body when he died.

Ruffin had lived in Philadelphia since 1989, said his girlfriend, Diane Showers.

Ruffin, who first sought treatment for drug problems in 1967, was convicted of misdemeanor cocaine possession in 1988.

Ruffin sang lead vocals on such Temptations hits as ″My Girl″ and ″Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.″ After leaving the group in 1968 he had hits with ″My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me)″ and ″Walk Away From Love.″