Robert Worth Bingham IV, an heir to a Kentucky newspaper family, was found dead of an apparent heroin overdose in his Manhattan loft, a police source said. He was 33.

Mr. Bingham, a journalist and author of the highly praised novel "Lightning on the Sun," was found Nov. 28 by his wife, Vanessa Chase, lying face down in the bathroom of their home.

The source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said it appeared to be a heroin overdose, with drug paraphernalia found nearby. Friends told police that Mr. Bingham had a history of drug use. His work often touched on drug problems.

The medical examiner was awaiting test results to determine the cause of death, spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said.

It was the latest tragedy involving the Bingham family -- former owners of the Courier-Journal in Louisville and the now-defunct Louisville Times. The family sold the newspapers to Gannett Co. in 1986 for $442.75 million.

Mr. Bingham's father, Robert Worth Bingham III, was assistant publisher of the two newspapers in 1966, when he was killed in a car accident at age 34.

Two years earlier, Mr. Bingham's uncle, Jonathan, was electrocuted while stringing party lights at the family's estate in eastern Kentucky.

Barry Bingham Sr., the longtime editor and publisher of the newspapers, was being cradled in his mother's arms when she was killed in a streetcar accident.

Mr. Bingham was born in Louisville and graduated from Brown University. He received a master's degree in fine arts from Columbia. He was a founder and editor of Open City, a literary magazine, and had been a reporter for the Cambodia Daily in Phnom Penh.