Police: Whitney Houston Found 'Underwater and Apparently Unconscious' in Hotel Bathtub
A member of Whitney Houston's staff found her "underwater and apparently unconscious" in the bathtub of her Beverly Hilton Hotel room on Feb. 11, according to a statement released by the Beverly Hills Police Department. Investigators held a press conference Monday to announce the conclusion of the preliminary probe into the death of the 48-year-old singer.
Lt. Mark Rosen of the BHPD said at the press conference held at city hall that the singer was found "unconscious and unresponsive" by a member of her personal staff; the statement from the department noted that upon discovery of Houston's body in the bathtub at about 3:30 p.m., security quickly was notified. Rosen declined to answer questions about the alleged finding of prescription pill bottles in Houston's hotel room. The Los Angeles Times and other outlets have reported that investigators recovered several bottles of prescription drugs from the hotel suite. "As of right now the investigation is sealed because it is pending," Rosen said.
The BHPD is declining to release further information about the investigation until the Los Angeles County coroner's office completes its report. Though an autopsy was conducted Feb. 12, the official cause of Houston's death won't be known until toxicology tests are completed.
The pop-music titan was pronounced dead at about 4 p.m. on Feb. 11, on the eve of the Grammy Awards, after paramedics attempted CPR but could not revive her. The Newark, N.J., native had traveled to Beverly Hills to attend mentor Clive Davis' annual pre-Grammy Awards party at the Hilton. Countless media reports have cited her behavior in the days preceding her death as erratic.
Rosen batted down several questions from reporters, declining, for example, to discuss the condition of Houston's body and the state of her hotel suite when hotel security personnel and paramedics arrived there. Rosen said Houston was "pulled out" of the bathtub prior to the arrival of the security guards and medics. He also said 911 tapes related to the incident would eventually be released to the public.
Rosen stressed that the BHPD's inquiry is not a criminal investigation. "We are not conducting a homicide investigation at this time," he said. "We are conducting a death investigation. It's a normal investigation for somebody of her age that would have died in this manner."
Even as Rosen reminded the assembled reporters that the integrity of his department's investigation requires that information about the probe be kept confidential, several media outlets reported Monday morning on potential findings and new details in the case. TMZ has reported that Houston consumed alcoholic beverages shortly before she died; the website also said Houston's body would be transported Monday on the private jet of filmmaker and Houston friend Tyler Perry to the East Coast for a funeral in New Jersey.
Rosen said that while investigators have "cleared out of the hotel" at 9876 Wilshire Blvd., there is "more work to be done."
"We have not ruled anything out, everything is on the table," he said.
Beverly Hills Mayor Barry Brucker told The Hollywood Reporter that he hoped Houston's death would serve as a wake-up call for Hollywood.
"On behalf of the city, we send out our heartfelt condolences to her family -- this is another tragic loss of a very talented person at such a young age," Brucker said. "I really hope that Hollywood will wake up to the fact that in recent years we have lost Michael Jackson, Brittany Murphy, Heath Ledger and others to presumably drug addiction and that we really need to come together and make certain that we address these issues as an industry and as a society so we don’t have more of these tragedies."
Brucker praised the BHPD's work on the case, saying that the quick response by the police and fire department is "a testament to our city's commitment to maintaining first-rate services."
"The mere fact that our police were on the scene within two minutes and our paramedics actually happened to be in the hotel at the time that the call came in -- if anything could have been done it certainly would have been," he said.