Pharmacy used by Michael Jackson may have supplied Whitney Houston with pills

Coroner confirms singer was found by make-up artist amid reports of empty medication bottles

Los Angeles

Whitney Houston was underwater and unconscious when staff found
her in the bathtub of her Los Angeles hotel suite, police confirmed
last night, amid mounting speculation about the role prescription
drugs may have played in her death.

The room at the Beverly Hilton hotel where the 48-year-old singer was discovered on Saturday afternoon contained several bottles of pills, they revealed. But it remains too early to speculate about whether they contributed to her demise.

"She was underwater and apparently unconscious," said Lt Mark Rosen, of Beverly Hills police. "Ms Houston was pulled from the [bath] tub by members of her staff and hotel security was promptly notified."

Cardio-pulmonary resuscitation was immediately performed, but it was too late to revive her and she was pronounced dead at 3.55pm. A post-mortem examination did not reveal obvious signs of trauma or foul play, but no official cause of death will be announced until toxicology tests are completed, a process likely to take between six and eight weeks.

Earlier, the showbusiness website TMZ 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 Michael Jackson with medication.

Houston was last seen by staff an hour before her body was discovered by a make-up artist who went into the bathroom to see what had become of her. Investigators must therefore establish whether the singer died from drowning or was killed by an event such as a heart attack before slipping under the water. Detectives will also scrutinise her state-of-mind in the days leading up to her death, in which she was observed behaving erratically. Until the investigation is completed, "our intent at Beverly Hills Police Department is not to fuel the speculation or rumours that are circulating," Lt Rosen added.

Houston's death on Saturday, 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.

Her body has been released to her family, and a funeral is expected to be held in the coming days in Houston's native New Jersey. Meanwhile, Sony – Houston's record label – has responded to her untimely demise by almost doubling the price of her greatest hits album on iTunes.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Executive - Opportunities Across The UK

£15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP - Manchester City Centre

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This web design company are searching for outs...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific