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Whitney Houston death: Beverly Hills police to wrap up probe

April 4, 2012 |  4:05 pm

Whitney Houston

Beverly Hills police officials said Wednesday that they will be able to wrap up their investigation into Whitney Houston's death after the Los Angeles County coroner released its final report Wednesday.

Lt. Mark Rosen, a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Police Department, said the investigation had been on hold pending release of the final coroner's report. But now investigators will proceed based on those findings, which concluded that the singer's death was accidental and the result of cocaine ingestion and a heart condition.

Autopsy"We can't finalize the case until we see what's in the report," Rosen said. "We have to review the document and we will take the appropriate course of action based on the coroner's findings."

He offered no timetable for official completion of the Beverly Hills police investigation.

The report found that Houston was submerged in bathwater for nearly an hour before a personal assistant found her dead in the Beverly Hilton Hotel.

The report provided new details on the death of the 48-year-old singer who died of a combination of heart trouble and cocaine ingestion, the Los Angeles County coroner's office said in a 41-page final report.

Early on, authorities suspected that some combination of narcotic substances, prescription medications and alcohol played a role in Houston's death. Houston was last seen alive by her personal assistant Feb. 11 between 2:35 p.m. and 3 p.m., the report stated.

Houston had complained of having a lingering sore throat in the days leading up to her death. Before the assistant left, she told Houston to "take a bath to start getting ready for tonight," referring to a pre-Grammy party thrown by her mentor producer Clive Davis.

The personal assistant left to pick up items at Neiman Marcus and returned to the locked hotel room at 3:36 p.m. When she went into the bathroom, she found Houston face-down and unresponsive in the tub, the report stated.

She called out to a bodyguard, the report stated, and they pulled Houston out of the bathtub. The assistant then ran to call the front desk and told them to call 911. Investigators found a white, crystalline substance and spoon with residue in the Beverly Hills hotel room where Whitney Houston died in February, the report said.

It also showed that cocaine and heart disease contributed to her death. On a bathroom counter were "a small spoon with a white, crystal-like substance in it and a rolled-up piece of white paper, along with other miscellaneous items," it said.

In a nearby drawer were "remnants of a white powdery substance and a portable mirror on a base and on the bottom of that base were more remnants of a white, powdery substance."

Authorities collected several bottles of prescription drugs from Houston's suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, where she was found dead. But officials have said the amounts of drugs did not seem unusually large.

Houston had battled drug addiction for years, and the coroner's office found traces of several drugs — including marijuana, the anti-anxiety medication Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril as well as Benadryl — in her system. But the coroner's office concluded in March in a preliminary report that those drugs did not contribute to her death.

Cocaine did play a role, though officials would not say how much of the drug was in her system. Craig Harvey, the coroner's operations chief, said the toxicology findings "suggested chronic usage."

In an interview with ABC News in 2002, Houston acknowledged using cocaine as well as marijuana and drinking heavily at times. She strongly denied using crack cocaine.

"Crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack," she said in the interview. "Let's get that straight. OK? We don't do crack. We don't do that."

Last May, Houston's spokeswoman said the singer was going back into rehab.


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Photo: Whitney Houston and Dionne Warwick sing "That's What Friends Are For" at the 2011 Clive Davis pre-Grammy gala at the Beverly Hilton Hotel. Credit: Gina Ferazzi / Los Angeles Times