UPDATE: Autopsy Report Released in Singer Whitney Houston's Death

By: The Associated Press; Kristen Schneider Email
By: The Associated Press; Kristen Schneider Email

UPDATE 3/22/12 @ 11:50 p.m.
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Whitney Houston was a chronic cocaine user who had the drug in her system when she drowned in a hotel bathtub, coroner's officials said Thursday after releasing autopsy findings that also noted heart disease contributed to her death.

The disclosure ended weeks of speculation about what killed the Grammy-winning singer on Feb. 11 on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

Houston was found submerged in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and her death was ruled accidental. Several bottles of prescription medications were found in her hotel room, but coroner's officials said there weren't excessive quantities.

"We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure," Patricia Houston, the singer's sister-in-law and manager said.

Beverly Hills police said in a statement there was no evidence of wrongdoing in connection with Houston's death.

Coroner's Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said cocaine and its byproducts were found in Houston's system, and the drug was listed as a contributing factor in her death. He said the results indicated Houston was a chronic cocaine user.

Toxicology results also showed Houston had marijuana, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril, and the allergy medication Benadryl in her system. Houston died just hours before she was scheduled to appear at producer Clive Davis' pre-Grammy Awards bash.

The singer also had buildup of plaque in her arteries that can restrict blood flow. Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said the condition is common in drug users, although he said it wasn't clear whether Houston had a heart attack on the day she died.

"It just beats up their heart and they will go to use and they will have a heart attack," he said.

The exact amount of cocaine in Houston's system was not disclosed Thursday but will be contained in a full autopsy report to be released in about two weeks, officials said.



UPDATE 2/14/12 @ 11:50 p.m.
HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A former Marshall University student and his family have close ties to the late singer Whitney Houston, and WSAZ.com spoke exclusively with them Tuesday night by Skype.

Jeremy Winans, who attended Marshall and his father Daniel Winans will be at the private funeral in Houston's native New Jersey.

At the request of Houston's mother, Jeremy's uncle, Marvin Winans, will preside Saturday at the funeral in Newark, N.J.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has ordered state flags in New Jersey flown at half-staff in memory of Houston -- the same honor bestowed on Frank Sinatra.

Houston died Saturday in Los Angeles. She was 48.



ORIGINAL STORY 2/11/12
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music's queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, has died. She was 48.

Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unclear.

At her peak in the 1980s and `90s, Houston the golden girl of the music industry and one of the world's best-selling artists.

Among her hits were "How Will I Know," "Saving All My Love for You" and "I Will Always Love You." She won multiple Grammys including album and record of the year.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies like "The Bodyguard."

But by the end of her career, drug use took its toll as her record sales plummeted and her voice became raspy and hoarse.


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