Amy Winehouse autopsy fails to establish death cause
By JILL LAWLESS Associated Press July 25, 2011 7:53AM
Updated: July 25, 2011 2:41PM
LONDON (AP) — Amy Winehouse’s devastated parents formally identified her body on Monday and visited mourners outside her north London home to thank them for their support, as examiners conducted an autopsy to determine the cause of the troubled singer’s death at the age of 27.
A coroner opened and adjourned an inquest into the unexplained death, leaving Winehouse’s family free to plan her funeral. A private family service could be held as early as Tuesday.
The singer’s father, Mitch Winehouse, thanked people for coming to lay bouquets, candles and handwritten notes, which lay in growing mounds across the road from the Victorian house where the soul diva died.
“I can’t tell you what this means to us — it really is making this a lot easier for us,” he said.
“We’re devastated and I’m speechless but thanks for coming.”
The singer’s mother, Janis, was in tears as she examined the flowers, candles, vodka bottles, flags, drawings and handwritten cards left by neighbors, fans and well-wishers. Many of the offerings expressed the same sentiment: “What a waste.”
“I’ll remember her as a troubled soul,” said fan Ethna Rouse, who brought her 4-year-old son to leave a bouquet. “Like many artists in the world — they are tortured souls, and that’s where the talent comes from.”
The singer died Saturday after publicly struggling with drug and alcohol abuse for years. Her body was discovered at home by a member of her security team, who called an ambulance. It arrived too late to save her.
Police have said her death is being treated as “unexplained” but not suspicious, and have said speculation that she might have suffered an overdose was inappropriate.
Police said an autopsy was being held Monday afternoon, and results would be announced later in the day or on Tuesday.
An inquest into the death was opened and adjourned at London’s St. Pancras Coroner’s Court. During the two-minute hearing, an official read out the name, birth date and address of Winehouse, described as “a divorced lady living at Camden Square NW1.”
“She was a singer songwriter at the time of her death and was identified by her family here at St. Pancras this morning,” said coroner’s officer Sharon Duff.
Duff said a forensic post-mortem was being held, along with histology and toxicology tests, to determine the cause of death. She said “the scene was investigated by police and determined non-suspicious.”
In Britain, inquests are held to establish the facts whenever someone dies violently or in unexplained circumstances.
Assistant Deputy Coroner Suzanne Greenaway said Winehouse’s inquest would resume on Oct. 26.
The singer had battled addiction to drugs and alcohol for years, too often making headlines for erratic behavior, destructive relationships and abortive performances.
Actor Russell Brand, a former drug addict, wrote a lengthy tribute in which he urged the media and public to change the way addiction is perceived — “not as a crime or a romantic affectation but as a disease that will kill.”
“Winehouse and I shared an affliction, the disease of addiction,” he wrote. “Addiction is a serious disease; it will end with jail, mental institutions or death.”
Last month, Winehouse canceled her European comeback tour after she swayed and slurred her way through barely recognizable songs in her first show in the Serbian capital, Belgrade. Booed and jeered off stage, she flew home and her management said she would take time off to recover.
Her last public appearance came three days before her death, when she briefly joined her goddaughter, singer Dionne Bromfield, on stage at The Roundhouse in Camden, near her home.
Winehouse released only two albums in her lifetime — 2003’s “Frank” and the chart-topping “Back to Black” in 2006. Both shot up the music charts as fans bought them to remember her by.
Gennaro Castaldo of music chain HMV said “Back to Black” was the retailer’s best-selling album.
It was also iTunes’ No. 1 album in more than a dozen countries including the U.S., Britain, France, Germany and Canada.
Jill Lawless can be reached at http://twitter.com/JillLawless