Whitney Houston: Drugs, alcohol, drowning or ...? Time will tell
This post has been corrected, as indicated below.
How did Whitney Houston die? That won't be known officially for weeks, but the rumor mill was going full strength Monday with talk about whether prescriptions drugs and alcohol, drowning or even an adverse reaction caused by a mix of drugs was to blame for the singer's passing Saturday.
"The investigation is ongoing," Los Angeles County coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said at a news conference Sunday, L.A. Now reported. "It's too early to tell." There were no visible signs of trauma on the body, Winter said. Beverly Hills police confirmed Monday that Houston had been found underwater in a tub at the Beverly Hilton on Saturday. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Unofficially, speculation ran the gamut Monday, with information leaks and Houston's behavior in the days leading up to her death examined under a media microscope.
Though some water was reportedly found in Houston's lungs during the autopsy conducted Sunday, a TMZ source said the family was told by coroner's officials that it was a mix of prescription drugs and alcohol that killed "The Bodyguard" actress, not drowning.
Bottles of prescription and over-the-counter medications were found on the scene, L.A. Now said -- reportedly including Xanax, Lorazepam, Valium, amoxicillin, ibuprofen, Midol, a sleep aid and more, according to various media sources -- but they yielded few pills, law enforcement sources told TMZ.
Grammy nominee Kelly Price said on CNN's "Starting Point" with Soledad O'Brien that the singer was "joyful," not behaving erratically, at a party celebrating Price's nods Thursday night.
"She did not seem disheveled," Price told the show via phone. "She was dancing. She was laughing. We all danced. We all laughed. We were singing. We were having a good time. There didn’t seem to be anything out of the ordinary with her. It actually made me very glad to see her that way, that she agreed to come out and then to see her and to see her looking so upbeat and so joyful and jovial."
A Los Angeles Times report of erratic behavior, however, referred to events Thursday afternoon. Houston, 48, was seen skipping around the ballroom, flailing her hands while talking to singers Brandy and Monica, and wandering aimlessly around the Beverly Hilton lobby. Security reportedly was advised that she was doing handstands by the pool.
A source told Fox News' Pop Tarts column that Houston, who had struggled with addiction, was seen drinking Champagne and cognac at a Ray J event the week prior to Grammys week, and Price admitted Houston was drinking bubbly on Thursday as well.
A security hold has been placed on Houston's autopsy results (the practice is common in high-profile cases). However, the body has been released to the family, People said; she is likely to be buried in New Jersey.
[For the record, 12:25 p.m. Feb. 13: This post originally said Houston was likely to be buried in Atlanta. Houston was born in Newark, N.J., and raised in Orange; though plans are not official, arrangements are reportedly being handled by a Newark funeral home, according to two people who spoke to the Associated Press.]
— Christie D'Zurilla
Photo: L.A. County coroner's spokesman Ed Winter speaks at a press conference Sunday announcing the conclusion of an autopsy on Whitney Houston. The cause of death is pending toxicology tests, and Winter said Beverly Hills police asked for a security hold on other details of her death. Credit: Brian van der Brug / Los Angeles Times