Whitney Houston under water when found in bathtub, police say
BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. (AP) - Whitney Houston was under water and apparently unconscious when she was found in a Beverly Hills hotel bathtub, police said Monday, as the singer's family prepared to send her body to her native New Jersey for a funeral.
The singer was found Saturday by a member of her personal staff at approximately 3:30 p.m. She was pulled from the tub by members of her staff, and hotel security was promptly notified, Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said.
Further details of Houston's death are not being released to preserve the integrity of the investigation, he said.
"As of right now, it's not a criminal investigation," Rosen told a news conference. "We have concluded our portion of the investigation at the hotel."
Rosen said it was a coroner's case and police were awaiting the determination of the cause of death. The coroner's office says toxicology testing is continuing.
There were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston's body, but officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which will likely take weeks to obtain.
Houston struggled for years with addiction to cocaine, marijuana and pills, which took a toll on her voice.
"You would think that someone who had a voice, who comes from a strong family, who was beautiful, would have everything," said fan Mary Rouleau. "But she had so much internal pain. That part makes me sad."
However, Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Texas minister and producer on Houston's final film project, a re-make of the 1970s release "Sparkle," said he saw no signs she was having any substance issues.
He said Houston was a complete professional and moved the cast and crew to tears two months ago when she sang the gospel hymn "Her Eyes on the Sparrow" for a scene shot in Detroit.
Coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said the body was released late Monday morning. He would not say where the body was taken but said that typically a family will work with a funeral home to make arrangements.
Two people who have spoken with Houston's family said the singer's body will be taken home to New Jersey late Monday for a funeral to be held at week's end.
The two spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak for the family and funeral arrangements weren't complete. They said Houston's family has raised the possibility of holding a wake Thursday and funeral Friday at Newark's Prudential Center, which can seat about 18,000.
The 48-year-old singer was found unresponsive in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.
The Grammys themselves were in part a memorial to Houston, a six-time winner. LL Cool J introduced a clip near the start of the show of a glowing Houston singing her signature ballad, a cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."
A sensation from her first album, Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. She awed millions with soaring, but disciplined vocals rooted in gospel and polished for the masses, a bridge between the earthy passion of her godmother, Aretha Franklin, and the bouncy pop of her cousin, Dionne Warwick.
D.C. radio and television personality Donnie Simpson first met Whitney Houston in 1986, shortly after the release of her first album. They remained close friends over the years.
"That voice is gone forever," Simpson said. "I prefer to just remember the person I knew and the music I was blessed to hear."
Sylvia Traymore said she was shocked when she heard of the death of her good friend. Traymore, a stand-up comedian, toured with Houston, serving as her opening act in the 80s and 90s.
"She was one of the most generous people and definitely no nonsense," Traymore said. "I love Whitney and I miss her already."
A vigil was set up for the singer in Dupont Circle by fan Matt Cannon.
"I grew up with Whitney and she's been there through the good and the bad," Cannon said.
Many people stopped to take pictures, sing along and remember good times.
One woman thought back to elementary school crushes.
"I love "How Will I Know" because it makes me think of a boy, and ever since 5th Grade I would listen to it, and I would dance, and say how will I know if he really loves me."
ABC7 contributed to this report.