Whitney Houston
Whitney Houston

Pills may link Whitney and Jackson

THE source of Whitney Houston's extensive supply of prescription drugs was the focus of growing scrutiny last night, as detectives in Los Angeles continued their efforts to establish what caused her sudden death.

Police called to the 48-year-old singer's suite at the Beverly Hilton hotel on Saturday afternoon are reported to have recovered several bottles of pills, many of them empty or half-empty, from the bathroom where her body was discovered.

The Los Angeles coroner, Ed Winter, confirmed initial reports that Houston had been found unconscious in a bathtub by one of her make-up artists.

"I'd just comment that she was found in the bathtub," he told a press conference.

"I believe somebody removed her from the bathtub and the paramedics did CPR on her."

An autopsy has been completed and Houston's body has been cleared for release to her family, he said.

There are no obvious signs of trauma or foul play, but no official cause of death will be released until after toxicology tests have been completed, a process likely to take six to eight weeks.

Mr Winter did little to dampen speculation about the role medication, illegal drugs and alcohol may have played in the singer's death.

"I'm not going to comment on the meds or prescriptions that were obtained" by detectives who had searched Houston's room, he said.

Earlier, the tabloid website TMZ had reported that a range of painkillers and sedatives, including Xanax, Ibuprofen, Amoxicillin and Midol, were recovered from the scene.

Some had been obtained from the Mickey Fine clinic in Beverly Hills, a location famous for supplying the late Michael Jackson with much of his personal supply of medication.

Houston is believed to have been submerged in bathwater when she was discovered by a make-up artist.

She had last been seen an hour earlier.

The coroner must therefore establish whether she died from accidental drowning or was killed by an event such as a heart attack before slipping under the water.

Detectives will also scrutinise Houston's behaviour in the days leading up to her death.

Her death on Saturday afternoon, hours before a pre-Grammy party, overshadowed Sunday night's awards, which included several moving tributes and attracted 39 million viewers - the event's highest figures since the mid-1980s.

A funeral is expected to be held in the coming days in Houston's native New Jersey.

Sony, Houston's record label, responded to her death by almost doubling the price of her greatest hits album on iTunes.

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