Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

'Arena funeral' for tragic Whitney

Fans attend attend Whitney Houston Leimert Park Vigil on February 13, 2012 in Los Angeles, California
Whitney Houston was found by a member of her entourage in her hotel room
Whitney Houston

Whitney Houston's body has arrived in her home state of New Jersey as her family discussed plans for a funeral at one of America's busiest entertainment venues.

Two people who spoke to the singer's family said they had raised the possibility of holding a wake on Thursday and a funeral on Friday at Newark's Prudential Centre, which hosts college and professional sporting events and seats about 18,000 people.

City officials said they were awaiting the family's arrival to complete the funeral planning.

A picture of Houston, 48, appeared on the electronic board outside the arena with a New Jersey Devils game scheduled for Friday night - posing a logistical challenge to a funeral that day.

The pop star was found dead in a bath in her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California on Saturday, hours before she was supposed to appear at a pre-Grammy Awards gala.

Funeral arrangements were being made by Newark's Whigham Funeral Home, which handled the 2003 funeral of Houston's father John, according to the sources.

Houston fans went to the funeral home, where they played her songs, sang and lit candles to remember her.

The Los Angeles coroner's office said Houston's body was released to the family on Monday and police said the body was taken to a Los Angeles-area airport.

She was found underwater and apparently unconscious when she was pulled from the hotel bath, and had prescription drugs in her room, authorities said.

An post-mortem examination was carried out on Sunday and there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on her body. But it could be weeks before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish her cause of death.

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