Remembering the pop queen

Coroner, Cops Release New Details on Whitney Houston’s Mysterious Death

Beverly Hills police say pop superstar was found "underwater and apparently unconscious." Coroner's office says pill bottles were discovered at the scene.

By Daniel Macht, Jonathan Lloyd and John Cadiz Klemack
|  Monday, Feb 13, 2012  |  Updated 11:03 PM CDT
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In Memoriam

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Here, Singer Whitney Houston performs at the 2011 Pre-GRAMMY Gala, a year to the day before her death.

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No Cause Yet in Death of Whitney Houston

The L.A. County Coroner's office has performed on autopsy on the body of singer Whitney Houston, but so far no cause of death has been determined. Houston died Saturday in Beverly Hills.
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New details have emerged about Whitney Houston's mysterious death, as plans were revealed for a funeral in the pop superstar's birthplace in Newark, N.J.

Complete Coverage: "Whitney Houston: 1963-2012"

She was discovered "underwater and apparently unconscious" in the tub at the Beverly Hilton Saturday at around 3:30 p.m., said Lt. Mark Rosen, of the Beverly Hills Police Department.

The police department said members of Houston’s staff pulled her from the tub and promptly notified hotel security.

Security returned with Fire Department personnel to find her still unconscious and unresponsive, the Beverly Hills police department said.

First responders were unable to revive her with CPR and Houston was pronounced dead at the scene at approximately 3:55 p.m., police said.

Earlier Monday, the L.A. coroner’s office confirmed prescription pill bottles were found in Houston’s hotel room. But the amount was "less than my medicine cabinet," L.A. County Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said.

Winter was asked at a news conference about a report that Houston's family was told her death was drug-related.

"I had a conversation with the family at the hotel, and at no time did I discuss prescription medications or the drowning issue," Winter said. "I'm the one that talked to the family, and I did not give that information. I don't know if the detectives discussed that with the family."

Houston's funeral will be held at the 18,000-seat Prudential Center in Newark, N.J. Friday, NBC New York reported. Houston was born in Newark and got her start as a singer at the New Hope Baptist Church in the city. She grew up in East Orange, N.J.

Winter told NBC Los Angeles that a van arrived to pick up the body Monday morning. By 2:30 p.m. Monday, a caravan believed to be driving the singer's body reached Van Nuys Airport (pictured, below).

Houston's body was flown to the Garden State Monday evening by private plane, NBC New York reported. The plane touched down at Teterboro Airport just after 10:30 p.m. local time and was towed into a hangar whose doors workers quickly closed.

A police escort will travel with Houston's body to the Whigham Funeral Home, which is handling funeral arrangements, according to sources working with the family.

An autopsy is complete on the body of the pop queen, but officials with the coroner's office said it might be weeks before they are ready to announce an official cause of death.

Officials aren't ruling out any possible causes of death until they get the results of toxicology tests. It could be several weeks until they have the results of those tests, which many feared could reveal the drug addiction Houston battled in recent years had contributed to her death.

The 48-year-old pop superstar was honored and remembered throughout Sunday's Grammy awards. About 39 million viewers tuned in to the CBS broadcast. Ratings jumped 41 percent over the last year in the prized 18-49 demo to post their best performance since 1990, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

"Although she is gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit," said host LL Cool J in a brief opening prayer at the Staples Center. "And to have her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever."

Houston leaves behind a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who was treated and released at Cedars Sinai Medical Center for anxiety. Bobby Brown, Houston's ex-husband and the father of her only child, told People Magazine that she was recovering with family members and was "obviously" affected by her mother's death. The 18-year-old reportedly had already a long week of trying to help her mother, who was apparently tottering on the edge again, as she had many times over for the past decade.

According to media reports, Houston had been acting erratically at a Thursday night rehearsal for Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy gala show. The Los Angeles Times reported that the singer looked “disheveled in mismatched clothes and hair that was dripping wet with either sweat or water.” It added that she was reportedly doing handstands, skipping and flailing her hands and that she smelled like alcohol and cigarettes. "Finally," the Times reported, "her daughter pulled Houston out of the room."

Houston's death comes just as she was about to return to the silver screen, having recently completed shooting "Sparkle," a remake of the 1976 film about a trio of signing sisters, a story loosely based on The Supremes. In it Houston plays the mother of the girls, who are played by former "American Idol" winner Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo and Tika Sumpter. The film's soundtrack includes two songs by Houston, the last she ever recorded. The film comes out Aug. 17.

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