Ted Eddings's death is the central mystery of Patricia Cornwell's Cause of Death, a Dr. Key Scarpetta novel. Eddings was a journalist; he is found dead in the waters of an old shipyard. Several theories are put forth about Eddings's death, one of which is that he was searching for historic artifacts and simply drowned in the frigid waters. Another popular theory, one that takes some time for Scarpetta to debunk, is that Eddings killed himself. The biggest clue that Eddings did not commit suicide and that his death was not accidental is the fact that cyanide gas is detected in his breathing apparatus. While suggestions persist that Eddings somehow poisoned himself, Scarpetta digs deeper into Eddings's life, searching for clues.
Eddings was an investigative journalist who was known for going to great lengths to find a story. Scarpetta had even crossed paths with him before. Scarpetta formulates a theory that one of Eddings's sources must have wanted him dead. While we do not receive a definitive answer for whodunit, Scarpetta is able to find that Eddings was involved with an anti-American cult—either as a genuine member or as a deep cover in order to write about them. Scarpetta presumes the leader of the cult is responsible for Eddings's death but cannot wrap up the case because the cult leader dies before the investigation is complete.