The body of Whitney Houston was set to be flown home to New Jersey late Monday for a funeral to be held at week’s end, said two people who have spoken with the singer’s family.
Houston’s family raised the possibility of holding a wake Thursday and funeral Friday at Newark, N.J.’s Prudential Center, an arena that hosts college and professional sport events and seats about 18,000.
The 48-year-old pop star was found dead in the bathtub in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.
The Los Angeles Coroner’s office completed an autopsy Sunday, but refused to divulge any of its findings, the Huffington Post reported.
The legendary singer was found in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, but Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter declined to say anything more about the room’s condition or any evidence investigators recovered. Huffington Post reported that Winter said there were no obvious signs of trauma on Houston’s body, but that officials were not ruling out any causes of death until they have toxicology results, which will take weeks to obtain.
Beverly Hills Police Lt. Mark Rosen said that his agency may release more details Monday about Houston’s death, but it will depend on whether detectives feel comfortable releasing any information.
A member of Houston’s entourage found the 48-year-old singer unresponsive in her hotel room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on Saturday, just hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy gala.
Funeral arrangements were being made by Newark’s Whigham Funeral Home, which handled the 2003 funeral of Houston’s father, John Houston, according to the two people who spoke to the AP.
A woman at the funeral home said she could neither confirm nor deny reports that Whigham would handle the arrangements. A canopy was being constructed Monday afternoon at the rear entrance.
The Los Angeles coroner’s office said Houston’s body was released to the family late Monday morning.
Houston was born in Newark and raised in nearby East Orange. She began singing as a child at Newark’s New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Grammy Award-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music program for many years. Whitney’s cousin singer Dionne Warwick also sang in its choir.
On Monday, mourners continued to leave flowers, balloons and candles at the wrought-iron fence around the tall brick church, which sits near the edge of an abandoned housing project near the train line leading to New York City.
“She was an inspiration to everybody,” said Gregory Hanks, a 26-year-old actor who grew up in the neighborhood and who dropped off a bouquet of flowers. He saw Houston perform at the New Jersey Performing Arts Center years ago.
“I grew up listening to her as a little boy, and to hear her sing, you knew she was special,” he said.