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Autopsy finds Whitney Houston was using cocaine to the end

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Updated: April 24, 2012 8:19AM



LOS ANGELES — Whitney Houston died from drowning in a hotel bathtub, but coroner’s officials said Thursday that heart disease and chronic cocaine use were contributing factors to the singer’s death.

The release of the autopsy findings ends weeks of speculation about what killed the Grammy-winning singer on Feb. 11 on the eve of the Grammy Awards.

Houston was found submerged in the bathtub of her room at the Beverly Hilton Hotel, and her death has been ruled as accidental. Several bottles of prescription medications were found in her hotel room, but coroner’s officials said they weren’t in excessive quantities.

Beverly Hills police said in a statement there was no evidence of wrongdoing in connection with Houston’s death.

“We are saddened to learn of the toxicology results, although we are glad to now have closure,” said Patricia Houston, the singer’s sister-in-law and manager.

Coroner’s Chief of Operations Craig Harvey said cocaine and its byproducts were found in Houston’s system, and it was listed as a contributing factor in her death. He said the results indicated Houston was a chronic cocaine user.

Toxicology results also showed Houston had marijuana, Xanax, the muscle relaxant Flexeril and the allergy medication Benadryl in her system. Houston died just hours before she was scheduled to appear at producer Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy Awards bash.

The singer also had a heart disease that caused blockages in her arteries.

Houston, 48, was buried in a New Jersey cemetery next to her father after an emotional four-hour funeral service that was attended by friends, family and superstars such as Oprah Winfrey, Tyler Perry, Alicia Keys, Mariah Carey, Mary J. Blige, Jennifer Hudson and Roberta Flack

A sensation from her first, eponymous album in 1985, Houston was one of the world’s best-selling artists from the mid-1980s to the late 1990s, turning out such hits as “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” ‘‘How Will I Know,” ‘‘The Greatest Love of All” and “I Will Always Love You.” But as she struggled with drugs, her majestic voice became raspy, and she couldn’t hit the high notes.

A full autopsy report is expected to be released in two weeks.

AP



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