Whitney Houston’s Cause of Death

Whitney Houston's Cause of Death and Autopsy Report
Learn about Whitney Houston's cause of death and the details of the autopsy report.

Overview of Whitney Houston’s Cause of Death, the Investigation and Autopsy Report

This article provides an overview of the information gathered about the death of singer, actress and entertainer, Whitney Houston. The article provides a recap of what happened the day she died, the subsequent investigation, and information on Whitney Houston’s Death.

Whitney Houston (48), one of the most admired and influential singers of her time, died on February 11th in the fourth-floor room number 434 at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California.

A member of Houston’s entourage found her unresponsive Saturday afternoon in her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and called the authorities. An unnamed source with knowledge of the case said that Houston was found in the bathtub.

Paramedics from the Beverly Hills Fire Department performed CPR for about 20 minutes before declaring the singer to be dead. Beverly Hills police Lt. Mark Rosen said she was at the hotel with a large entourage of family, friends, and co-workers, who were there to attend music industry mogul Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy’s party on Saturday night at the Beverly Hilton.

Coroners removed Whitney Houston’s body from the Beverly Hilton after midnight through a back door to avoid the media mob that was on the scene. Coroners later conducted an autopsy on Sunday, but no information was released and they did not determine the official cause of death. If drugs or alcohol were involved, an official cause of death would ultimately not be released until after toxicology tests are conducted, which usually takes as much as six to eight weeks.

Police said there we no initial signs of foul play and the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office continued their investigation to determine the official cause of death.

Inside her hotel room, investigators found an ashtray on the bathroom counter that was filled with cigarette butts and a small spoon with a white crystal-like substance in it and a rolled-up piece of white paper.  In one of the bathroom drawers, an official found remnants of a white powdery substance and a portable mirror on a base. It’s probably clear to everyone what those white powdery substances will turn out to be, but we’ll wait for the toxicology reports. In addition, various prescription pill bottles were found in the living room and bedroom of the suite. Additional details will be provided on the death investigation as they unfold.

Whitney Houston’s Troubled Past

Houston’s success as a singer and actress was accompanied by an increasingly troubled personal life. Unfortunately, the pop star struggled with both drug and alcohol problems for many years. In 1992, she married singer Bobby Brown and their marriage was continuously scarred by drug abuse and domestic violence. The last decade of her life was filled with drug use, relapses, and trips to rehab. According to her spokesperson, the singer/actress was in rehab as recently as May 2011.

Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office Releases Whitney Houston’s Autopsy Report

The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office released a final autopsy report on the death of singer and actress Whitney Houston, who was found dead in her hotel room on February 11th, 2012.  According to the coroner’s autopsy report, the official cause of death was listed as an “accidental drowning” and heart disease and chronic cocaine use were contributing factors in her death. 

No foul play was suspected, although a rape detection kit was used at the crime scene as a matter of department protocol.  The LA county coroner’s report showed that she had traces of cocaine, marijuana, and several prescription medications in her system at the time of her death.

The thorough autopsy report also revealed that the singer has a “perforation of posterior nasal septum” (basically a hole in her nose) and McGhan breast implants (size: 230 ccs). The autopsy image reports also showed that Houston had numerous scars on her body and several areas of “skin slippage”.  The autopsy report also showed that she had upper dental implants.

Whitney Houston Died From Accidental Drowning, Autopsy Finds

The official cause of death is that the entertainer died from drowning in a hotel bathtub.  The coroner’s office officials added that heart disease and chronic cocaine use were contributing factors to her death.

The release of the autopsy results ended many weeks of speculation about what actually killed the Grammy-winning singer on February 11, 2012, the day before the Grammy Awards. Houston was found submerged in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and her death has been officially ruled as accidental. Several bottles of prescription medications with pills were found in her hotel room, but coroner’s officials said they weren’t in excessive quantities.

Further toxicology reports also suggested the presence of other drugs in her system including Xanax, Benadryl, Flexeril, and marijuana. While the consequences of the fatal cocktail were a major contributor to her demise, the death was more or less accidental. Whitney had not intended to die. Initial investigation of the suite did not indicate any criminal intent and considering her struggle with drug addiction, it is believed that all substances were self-administered.

Other Possible Explanations for Her Death

In December that year, a private investigator claimed that he found evidence of Houston’s death being staged and was not an accident. The investigator previously believed that she owed about $1.5 million to two high-powered drug dealers who infiltrated her entourage. It was also speculated that the two men entered her suite within an hour before her death and that this activity was caught on the hotel’s surveillance footage. The wounds found on her body were also speculated to have been self-defense wounds and not accidents as mentioned in the coroner’s report. None of these claims have been substantiated, but the conspiracy theory lives on.

Burial and last rites

Whitney was buried at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark in a private invitation-only funeral that included tribute acts from Stevie Wonder, Alicia Keys, CeCe Winans, R Kelly, and Kim Burrell. Other personalities who attended the service to mourn Whitney Houston’s death include Clive Davis and Kevin Costner, while her godmother Aretha Franklin and ex-husband Bobby Brown were unable to attend.

Get the scoop on more celebrity drama in our Celebrity Investigations section. Also read about how her daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, died of a tragic drug overdose just a few years later.

Michael Kissiah is the owner of Brandy Lane Publishing, LLC, which owns and operates a small portfolio of websites, including eInvestigator.com. Michael created eInvestigator.com more than 20 years ago after working as a private investigator in the state of Florida. Since that time, he has become an expert at how to find information online and has written over 1000 articles on topics related to the investigation industry. In addition, he is the author of the "Private Investigator Licensing Handbook", available at Amazon.com.


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