Whitney Houston's medical records sought after mystery death
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Officials investigating the death of singer Whitney Houston have issued subpoenas for her medical records after finding prescription drugs in her Beverly Hills hotel room.
The Los Angeles Coroner's office said on Wednesday the move was standard procedure in such cases. Houston, 48, who had a history of addiction to cocaine and alcohol, was found unconscious and underwater in a bathtub late last week on the eve of the annual Grammy Awards show.
A private funeral is planned for her in her Newark, New Jersey hometown this coming Saturday. NBC and CBS television networks reported on Wednesday that Aretha Franklin, Houston's godmother, has been asked to sing at the service.
The coroner's office has declined to release details of an initial autopsy on the "I Will Always Love You" pop star, and is awaiting results of tests for drugs, alcohol and other substances that may have been in her system.
"It is just standard protocol to find out who were the deceased's doctors and what the person was being treated for," said Lt. Fred Corral, of the Los Angeles Coroner's office.
"We do that all the time when we find drugs or alcohol at the scene," he added, referring to the subpoenas.
Celebrity website TMZ.com obtained a copy of Houston's death certificate on Wednesday, which showed the cause of death as "deferred." The certificate said Houston would be buried at a Westfield, New Jersey cemetery, and TMZ quoted sources close to the family as saying she would be laid to rest next to the grave of her father John.
Officials have said they found some prescription drugs in Houston's hotel room but they declined to give details. TMZ said the amount was small, but included the anti-anxiety drug Xanax, over the counter painkillers and some antibiotics.
Houston had a well-chronicled addiction to cocaine, marijuana, prescription drugs and alcohol. She was last in rehab in May 2011.
Celebrity media have reported that Houston was seen drinking heavily and behaving erratically in the three or four days before her death.
Us Weekly, in a cover story for its Friday edition, quoted an unnamed insider as saying she would mix different substances. "The alcohol would lower her inhibitions, then she'd think it was no big deal to take a sleeping pill or two and smoke some weed," the source told the magazine.
Houston leaves behind ex-husband Bobby Brown and the couple's 18 year-old daughter Bobbi Kristina, who was hospitalized twice over the weekend for anxiety.
Brown, who was married to Houston for 15 tumultuous years, said in a statement on Wednesday, that the teen was improving.
"My daughter Bobbi Kristina is doing much better," Brown said. "We continue to provide love and support to Bobbi Kristina. She is dealing with the tragedy of her mother's death and would prefer to do it outside of the public eye. I ask again that our privacy be respected."
Sales and downloads of Houston's best-known songs have soared since Saturday. Single digital track downloads surpassed 887,000 in the 24 hours after her death and her greatest hit album re-entered the Billboard music charts at No.6.
(Reporting By Jill Serjeant; Editing by Bob Tourtellotte)