UPDATE: At a Los Angeles court hearing on Friday (March 11), it was revealed that Tuesday Cross was transferred to Mountain View Convalescent Hospital in Sylmar, Calif., on March 8 without Jesse Hughes’ or his attorney’s knowledge. Judge Daniel Juarez ruled that Hughes now has visitation rights at the new facility and that he can and should be informed by Cross’ mother, Maria Virginia Gaytan, about any decision-making moving forward. Judge Juarez said he did not want to rule on the power of attorney yet and would like all parties involved to resolve the matter themselves so he doesn’t have to make that decision. The next hearing in the matter is set for April 22.
“The love of my life is going to die.”
Jesse Hughes, the frontman for Eagles of Death Metal, lifts his head a few inches. Tears run down his cheeks into his handlebar mustache and beard. He drags on a cigarette. “I believe the hospital wants to end her life,” he says, shaking his head. “She deserves to live.”
A few blocks away from Hughes’ home, in a private room in the intensive care unit of Dignity Health Glendale Memorial Hospital, about a 20-minute drive from Los Angeles, Hughes’ fiancée, 31-year-old Marina Cardenas — better known as EODM’s bassist and keyboardist Tuesday Cross — lies comatose. She has been in a vegetative state for approximately six weeks since an asthma attack sent her into cardiac arrest, and it has been more than a month since Hughes has seen or communicated with her.
“What if she never wakes up?” he asks, defeated, exhaling a thick plume of smoke. “What if I can’t ever talk to her again?”
Hughes, 49, alleges that an EEG test administered by staff at Glendale Memorial indicated that Cross had suffered brain damage, and because of those results, “The hospital made up their minds long ago that they didn’t want to treat her.” According to Alexandra Snyder, an attorney working on Hughes’ behalf and another source familiar with Cross’ care, there was no indication that the hospital was supplying nutrition to Cross and was limiting treatment to intravenous hydration. According to Hughes’ declaration to the court, he states, “I am afraid that the hospital is ignoring any signs that Marina is responsive in order to remove her ventilator and medical treatment. I recently found out [she] has not received any form of nutrition since she was admitted to the hospital.”
Snyder says limiting care to hydration is a common method used to prepare terminally ill patients’ organs for donations. Christina Zicklin, director of external communications at Glendale Memorial Hospital, says via phone, “We cannot disclose any information regarding any patient due to HIPAA regulations and California privacy laws.” (In a legal response from the hospital, Leah Nubla, director of quality at Glendale Memorial, said “nutrition was supplied intravenously.”)
Glendale Memorial’s care of Cross — and who is legally empowered to determine what that care should be — is the focus of litigation currently playing out in Los Angeles Superior Court. Hughes, with the help of the Life Legal Defense Foundation, that fought to keep Terri Schiavo on life support during a headline-making case in the late 1990s and early 2000s, is petitioning the hospital and Cross’ mother, Maria Virginia Gaytan, alleging that the hospital chose to take direction from Gaytan and blocked him from seeing or communicating with his fiancée, even though he has documentation that Cross gave him power of attorney over her health care.
On Feb. 18, Judge Daniel Juarez ordered that the hospital could not remove Cross from respiratory support or other medical treatment, including nutrition, and that she was to remain on life support. The impending issues are expected to be determined at a Friday (March 11) hearing presided over by Judge Juarez. “She’s all by herself with these monsters who don’t give a sh– about her,” Hughes says of his partner of a dozen years — and, since March 2016, when he dropped to one knee and proposed during a concert in Australia, his fiancée. Their bond had deepened just a few months earlier when on Nov. 13, 2015, Islamic State jihadists stormed Paris’ Bataclan nightclub while Eagles of Death Metal were performing, taking hostages and killing 90 people there — part of coordinated attacks that left another 40 dead in the city. As Hughes and his band dodged bullets and escaped backstage, Cross, who was supposed to play keyboards later in the set and was not onstage, waited for him between the vehicles that the terrorists had driven to the club.
“She didn’t go anywhere without me then, and I’m not going anywhere without her now,” he says.
On the afternoon of Jan. 23, Hughes says he and Cross had cuddled on the couch in their bungalow-style home in LA’s Atwater Village as she puffed a few times on the inhaler she used to treat her asthma. She was exhausted from graffiti tagging the past few nights, and the spray-paint vapor had given her a slight cough. When she fell asleep, Hughes headed to a nearby record store with two friends.
While he was gone, Jennifer Ortega, a TV and film producer and good friend of the couple, stopped by, found the door unlocked, and discovered Cross struggling to breathe on the kitchen floor. Cross had vomited and “was on her side making noises when I was trying to pull her up,” Ortega recalls.
Unable to lift her friend, Ortega called Laura Garcia, a friend and a trained EMT, who was with Hughes. They raced back to the house with another friend, Julian Major, then put Cross in the backseat of Ortega’s Honda CR-V, and while Garcia and Major tended to her, Hughes drove the few blocks to Glendale Memorial’s emergency room.
In the hospital’s declaration filed in response to Hughes’ petition, Glendale Memorial’s Leah Nubla said that Cross was “in full cardiac arrest” when ER doctors got to her and that Hughes “reported the patient had recently been smoking crack or meth.” Hughes claims that he didn’t know if she was on drugs but wanted to be safe. He says she was never tested in the hospital. Nubla further stated that Cross was resuscitated, admitted to the intensive care unit, intubated and placed on a ventilator.
Although the hospital’s response does not indicate this, Hughes says Cross also tested positive for COVID, and he was told that hospital visits from family and friends were not permitted because of the risk of spreading the virus.
In the reply filed to the hospital’s response, a Life Legal Defense Foundation attorney alleges that on or about Jan. 27, Hughes “spoke with the physician overseeing [Cross’] care regarding her condition” and requested a second EEG be performed. The document says that “the doctor snapped at [Hughes], saying, ‘Absolutely not. There’s no point. She’s never going to breathe on her own again.’” The reply further alleges that the doctor told Hughes “he should authorize the Hospital to remove [Cross’] ventilator.”
Recalling the conversation at his home, Hughes says he told the doctor, “I’m not pulling her off life support. I’m not doing that to her.”
Ortega, who was listening in on the call, says, “The fact that the doctor was so dismissive and rude made us really question him, especially since it hadn’t been nearly long enough to see if she’d recover. His complete lack of empathy was shocking.”
Around that same time, Hughes also made contact with Gaytan. Though his fiancée was long estranged from her mother and had what he calls a “complicated” relationship with her, he thought she should be informed of the situation. Hughes says Gaytan declined his offer to fly her from Denver, where she lives, to Los Angeles, but copies of texts between Hughes and Gaytan included in Hughes’ court filings indicate that Gaytan did agree that Hughes should oversee her daughter’s care. In one, she wrote, “Okay just called [the hospital] to let them know that you will be making decisions since she has been living with you for the last 13 years and practically married and that you will speak to me before consenting anything.” In another, she wrote, “I am going to follow anything you say, I trust you.”
The hospital’s response also says Gaytan agreed to let Hughes make decisions on Cross’ care and gave permission for him to visit her daughter via Facetime. That same document also indicates that Gaytan changed her mind after an ICU doctor recommended that Cross be extubated, given a tracheostomy, a surgical procedure that enables a person’s trachea to receive direct access to a breathing tube, and that Cross be fitted with a G tube, a surgically planted device that gives direct access to a patient’s stomach for feeding. While Gayton approved the procedures, the response says Hughes wanted more time to consider the recommendations.
The response says that the following day, Feb. 1, Gaytan informed the hospital’s social worker that she was no longer comfortable with Hughes being the decision-maker, and at that point began taking directions from Cross’ mother since she was next of kin.
Hughes says the hospital did not inform him of this change and he did not learn about it until Gaytan texted him to say that she now wanted to be the decision-maker regarding Cross’ health care with input from him. But Hughes says that in June 2021, Cross signed a document giving him power of attorney over her health care after a similar incident landed her in Glendale Memorial. The document, which is dated June 2, 2021, is included in Hughes’ petition.
According to the reply filed by Hughes’ lawyer, he attempted to provide the hospital with a copy of Cross’ power of attorney document (DPOA) but was “repeatedly turned away in the lobby and told the hospital would not receive any documents from him.”
Glendale Memorial’s response acknowledges that it did receive the DPOA but alleges the document was improperly executed and therefore chose to continue taking directions from Gaytan. Snyder, Hughes’ attorney, tells Billboard that they properly executed the document and that the hospital is still not acknowledging Hughes as POA.
Gaytan tells Billboard that she believes the document was forged. “That’s not my daughter’s signature,” she says.
Amid this conflict with the hospital and Gaytan, Hughes continued to call her via Facetime. In early February, he and a group of the couple’s close friends called Cross, and he asked his fiancée, “Baby, if you can close your eyes, everyone would surely love that.” Cross stared into the screen and closed her eyes. He waited about three or four minutes, then he asked her to do it again. She did.
Hughes says he called the nurses’ station and informed them of this development.
“See, she’s responding!” he said. “You’ve got to look! I think she’s trying to wake up!”
The nurse’s reply, he says, was, “It’s nothing.”
He captured the moment on his iPhone, snapping photos to ensure that he had some proof of her recovery. “It showed her gasping for air, reacting to me and having brain function,” he says.
The last time Hughes saw his fiancée was on Feb. 8. “She’s been in there for so long. I miss her,” he says. “She’s probably heard so many conversations about how they are going to terminate her.” As soon as he started talking to Cross, she responded, moving her head slightly. His interpretation was that his fiancée was happy to hear a familiar voice. Court documents filed by his lawyer, allege that when Hughes asked the nurses to note Cross’ responses, they “moved the iPad away from [Cross’] face. However, the audio was still on and [Hughes] could hear the nurses saying something about sedating [Cross] before [Hughes] would be allowed back on the video call. Gaytan then put a stop to the Facetime sessions as well. Referring to this incident, the hospital’s response alleges that “the patient was and is reported by the caregivers as unresponsive.”
Furious that he’d been banned from seeing Cross, Hughes engaged the Life Legal Defense Foundation and set up a GoFundMe page for his fiancée. On social media, he asked his fans to get involved by calling the hospital. Gaytan says she was lived when she learned of his actions.As of Wednesday, Hughes had raised a little over $6,000.
On March 11, Judge Juarez is expected to determine whether Hughes or Gaytan has legal power of attorney and to decide where Cross will get the best care. Hughes has requested that his fiancée be transferred to UCLA Medical Center, where he says they’ve agreed to treat her. He adds that he will raise funds and pay for her medical care if insurance won’t cover it.
According to Gaytan, Cross remains in a coma but occasionally breathes on her own. When she tires, her tracheostomy tube must be connected to a ventilator. She initially told Billboard that she doesn’t want her daughter moved to another hospital yet and was waiting for Medi-Cal to approve a long-term care facility for her care and rehabilitation. But Glendale hospital’s response to Snyder’s petition indicates that Gaytan was trying to obtain funding to airlift her daughter to Denver.
Right before Covid hit, Hughes and Cross were making plans to marry in Amsterdam at a small ceremony that would be attended by a few close friends. Now it has been over a month since he’s seen her, and he says he’s scared that he may never see her again. “It seems like a cruel punishment not to let me speak to her,” he says. He pulls up his shirt to show her face inked on both sides of his chest.
One night in late February, Hughes hangs out with friends at the house he shares with Cross. They used to stay up all night, her painting canvases on the floor, while he rehearsed his music.
Over the course of the evening, he vacillates between an almost manic confidence that he will get the love of his life back by any means, and despair. “They weren’t counting on a dude like me. Nothing is going to stop me,” he says at one point. Later that night, he breaks down, crying while he rocks back and forth. “I can’t even talk to her, touch her, hold her,” he says.
Between sips of Dr. Pepper, he takes to Instagram Live to sing Simon & Garfunkel’s “Bridge Over Troubled Water” on a karaoke machine. He dedicates the song to Cross. “I sing karaoke every night. It helps me,” says Hughes. I’m singing to her. I hold a prayer session on Instagram, too. He’s also constructed a 25-foot wooden cross adorned with jagged sections of mirror, glitter and resin. He plans to erect it on a mountain in Griffith Park that overlooks both his house and the hospital. “I’m calling it Tuesday’s Cross,” he proclaims. “I just love her so much.”
Additional reporting by Bill Donahue