More questions than answers surround sudden death of Whitney Houston

February 13th, 2012 by Staff

Los Angeles (CNN) — There were more questions than answers Monday about Whitney Houston’s sudden death, with authorities offering few details even as the iconic singer’s passing loomed large over music’s biggest night.

Coroners completed the autopsy Sunday on Houston, who was found dead a day before in her suite in the upscale Beverly Hilton just hours before she was to attend a pre-Grammy Awards bash at the hotel.

Assistant Chief Ed Winter of the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office told reporters “there will be no cause of death at this time because it is pending toxicology reports.”

Winter declined to release the coroner’s initial finding of cause of death, saying lab results were expected in six to eight weeks.

“I know there are reports that she maybe was drowned or did she overdose, but we won’t make a final determination until all the tests are in,” he said. Winter ruled out foul play, and said there were no injuries to her body.

Winter confirmed reports that Houston was found in the bathtub of her hotel room. “I believe somebody removed her from the bathtub and the paramedics did CPR on her,” he said.

Entertainment news website TMZ, citing “informed sources,” reported pill bottles were found in Houston’s room. CNN could not immediately confirm the TMZ report and Winter declined to comment.

Beverly Hills police have requested a “security hold” on the coroner’s report, a common practice in high-profile cases that limits what can be revealed about a probe while it is ongoing.

“So there will be no additional information put out as far as what was discovered in the room, any details of that nature,” Winter said.

Whatever the exact cause, the grief over the death of Houston — whose soaring voice and enormous talent were clouded in recent years by her battles with drug addiction — was evident Sunday at the Grammy Awards.

Host LL Cool J began his Grammy monologue by acknowledging “we’ve had a death in our family” and offering a prayer thanking God “for sharing our sister Whitney with us.”

“Although she’s gone too soon, we remain truly blessed to have been touched by her beautiful spirit and to have her lasting legacy of music to cherish and share forever,” the rapper and actor said.

Toward the end of the show, under a bright, solitary spotlight, Jennifer Hudson took to the stage at the Staples Center to perform Houston’s mega-hit “I Will Always Love You.”

Accompanied by a piano, Hudson delivered a searing, heartfelt performance that brought the audience to its feet, ending the song with one new line: “Whitney, we love you.”

Earlier, on the red carpet, gospel singer Kim Burrell told CNN she’d exchanged voicemails with her good friend Houston shortly before her death, describing her as being “in great spirits, as always.” She always thought of Houston as a “fighter” and a “survivor,” which made the idea of her passing all the more difficult to comprehend.

“She’s my sister and she’ll always be my sister,” said an emotional Burrell. “I love her dearly.”

Burrell said she’d flown to California to join Houston in attending a pre-Grammy party Saturday night hosted by the songstress’ longtime mentor, Clive Davis.

As late as Monday morning, remembrances continued to pour in from around the world.

In a statement, Nelson Mandela extended his condolences to Houston’s family and friends over her death. He recalled how she dedicated her performance of “Greatest Love Of All” to him during a White House dinner in his honor in October 1994.

“May she rest in peace,” the statement said.

Amid the outpouring of grief, Beverly Hills police said Houston’s 18-year-old daughter, Bobbi Kristina, was taken to Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, Sunday morning. Details of her condition were not disclosed.

A source close to the family told CNN that by late Sunday afternoon the teenager was out of the hospital and would be heading back to New Jersey possibly as early as that night. She was expected to go to the home of her grandmother, gospel singer Cissy Houston, in New Jersey, said the source, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of the sensitive nature of the issue.

Burrell said she was with the teenager late Saturday, admitting the girl had felt “overwhelmed” while expressing confidence that “she’ll pull through.”

Bobbi Kristina Brown was born during Houston’s marriage to Bobby Brown, which ended in divorce in 2007.

Her father, Brown, was swarmed by media when he arrived at Los Angeles International Airport Sunday night after pulling out of a performance with New Edition in Nashville, Tennessee, in the wake of the death.

Brown did not take any questions, and was quickly whisked into a waiting limousine.

The night Houston died, he was openly emotional during a concert in Southaven, Mississippi, said attendee and CNN iReporter Moshiu Knox, at one point asking people to say a prayer for his daughter, for his mother and “for me, because I’m going to need it.”

“Bobby was crying during his performance and at one point had to walk off stage,” Knox said.

Houston’s family said in a statement Sunday, “We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Whitney. This is an unimaginable tragedy and we will miss her terribly. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from her fans and friends.”

Funeral arrangements for Houston were pending.


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