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Whitney Houston was found underwater in bathtub, police say

February 13, 2012 | 11:13 am
Whitney Houston performs in Paris in 1991

Whitney Houston was found underwater in the bathtub of a Beverly Hills hotel where she was pronounced dead, police said Monday.

"She was underwater and apparently unconscious," the Beverly Hills Police Department said in a statement, adding that authorities "cannot speculate on what may have caused or contributed to her death.

Several prescription drugs were found in Houston's hotel room, but Los Angeles County coroner's officials said it's too soon to say whether the medications played any role in the singer's death. Authorities have said that they are trying to determine whether she drowned and that determining a cause of death could take weeks.

PHOTOS: Whitney Houston, 1963-2012

Investigators have collected several bottles of prescription substances from Houston's suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, law enforcement sources told The Times.

Officials are talking to the pop star's family and friends to learn how she spent her final few hours, according to the law enforcement sources, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

After Houston was found Saturday afternoon in the bathtub, Beverly Hills Fire Department paramedics performed CPR on Houston for about 20 minutes before declaring her dead, officials said.

PHOTOS: Stars react

People who were briefed on the probe Sunday said drowning was one of several scenarios that investigators are exploring. The sources stressed that investigators still have many unanswered questions.

One person with knowledge of the case said a natural cause of death has not been ruled out.

Officials hope toxicology tests will yield more clues, coroner's spokesman Ed Winter said Sunday. 

FULL COVERAGE: Whitney Houston | 1963-2012

"We won't make that final determination until all the tests are in." Winter said.

Beverly Hills police have put a security hold on the case, keeping further details from being released.

Houston struggled with drug and alcohol problems for years, and last May her spokeswoman said the singer was going back into rehab.

TIMELINE: Whitney Houston highs and lows

She was in Beverly Hills for music industry titan Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammys party Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton. During the preceding days, she made several public appearances. At times, she was said to have been acting strangely, skipping around a ballroom and doing handstands near the hotel pool. Houston reportedly greeted people with a warm smile but at times appeared disheveled in mismatched clothes and with her hair dripping wet.

On Thursday, she dropped by the rehearsals for the pre-Grammys party. A Grammy staffer said that as reporters interviewed Davis and singers Brandy and Monica, Houston was dancing just off camera to make them laugh. Grammy personnel expressed concern that she'd be caught on camera and that reporters would write about her behavior.

On Sunday morning, a bleary-eyed Ray J was briefly inside the lobby of the Beverly Hilton with three companions. The music star, who reportedly had been dating Houston off and on, had his hood up and was being consoled.

"Whitney dead," he repeated multiple times, as one friend grabbed him by the shoulders. "Whitney dead. We all gotta live with that."

A little later, he left the hotel in the passenger seat of a red Ferrari.

Houston’s teenage daughter was taken by paramedics from the Beverly Hilton to a nearby hospital Sunday morning. She has since been released.


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-- Richard Winton and Andrew Blankstein

Photo: Whitney Houston performs in Paris in 1991. Credit: Bertrand Guay / AFP/Getty Images