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Cause of Whitney Houston’s death could take weeks

- Associated Press - Monday, February 13, 2012

BEVERLY HILLS, CALIF. (AP) - Whitney Houston was under water and apparently unconscious when she was found in a hotel bathtub, Beverly Hills police said Monday.

The singer was found Saturday by a member of her personal staff at approximately 3:30 p.m. She was pulled from the tub by members of her staff, and hotel security was promptly notified, Lt. Mark Rosen said.

Further details of Houston's death are not being released to preserve the integrity of the investigation, he said.

"As of right now, it's not a criminal investigation," Rosen told a news conference. "We have concluded our portion of the investigation at the hotel."

Rosen said it was a coroner's case and police were awaiting the determination of the cause of death.

The coroner's office says toxicology testing is continuing.

There were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston's body, but officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which will likely take weeks to obtain.

Coroner's Assistant Chief Ed Winter said the body was released late Monday morning. He would not say where the body was taken but said that typically a family will work with a funeral home to make arrangements.

Two people who have spoken with Whitney Houston's family said the singer's body will be taken home to New Jersey late Monday for a funeral to be held at week's end.

The two spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak for the family and funeral arrangements weren't complete. They said Houston's family has raised the possibility of holding a wake Thursday and funeral Friday at Newark's Prudential Center, which can seat about 18,000.

The 48-year-old singer was found unresponsive in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.

The Grammys themselves were in part a memorial to Houston, a six-time winner. LL Cool J introduced a clip near the start of the show of a glowing Houston singing her signature ballad, a cover of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You."

A sensation from her very first album, Houston was one of the world's best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s. She awed millions with soaring, but disciplined vocals rooted in gospel and polished for the masses, a bridge between the earthy passion of her godmother, Aretha Franklin, and the bouncy pop of her cousin, Dionne Warwick.

Bishop T.D. Jakes, a Texas minister and producer on Houston's final film project, a re-make of the 1970s release "Sparkle," said he saw no signs she was having any substance issues. He said Houston was a complete professional and moved the cast and crew to tears two months ago when she sang the gospel hymn "Her Eyes on the Sparrow" for a scene shot in Detroit.

"There was no evidence in working with her on `Sparkle' that there was any struggle in her life," Jakes said Sunday. "She just left a deep impression on everybody."

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Associated Press writers Raquel Maria Dillon, Nekesa Mumbi Moody and Andrew Dalton in Los Angeles, Adrian Sainz in Memphis, Tenn.; Bruce Shipkowski in Newark, N.J.; and Hillel Italie in New York contributed to this report.

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