Belfast Telegraph

Whitney Houston funeral plans begin as grieving family collect body

Beverly Hills police have confirmed that Whitney Houston's body has been formally released to her grief-stricken family.

The I Will Always Love You singer was found dead in her hotel room in Beverly Hills on Saturday sending shockwaves around the world.

After the autopsy was completed over the weekend, the Los Angeles coroner has now given her relatives the go ahead to start planning her funeral.

"The family is making arrangements," Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter said today. Winter will also be conducting toxicology tests for Houston that does not require her body to be present.

NBC have reported that the Bodyguard star's body will be transported back to her hometown in New Jersey and she will be laid to rest at the Hope Baptist Church later this week.

This is the same church where Houston started her musical career by singing to the congregation and where her mother served as gospel director for many years.

Whitney's body was reportedly taken to a Los Angeles funeral home this morning before being transported to the airport for the plane journey back to the East Coast.

The singer's family released a statement today telling of their grief at losing the superstar.

"We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Whitney," it read. "This is an unimaginable tragedy and we will miss her terribly. We appreciate the outpouring of love and support from her fans and friends. The Houston Family."

Whitney's ex-husband Bobby Brown flew back to Los Angeles on Sunday night to be with the former couple's only child, Bobbi Kristina, 18, who has been rushed to hospital twice since her mother's death. She is now with her family and half-siblings who are keeping an eye on her.

Meanwhile, RadarOnline reports that Whitney's body did not have any obvious "physical signs of trauma."

"She weighed over 150 pounds, and there was food in her stomach," a source told the site. "Upon closer inspection of her throat, it did look enflamed, but nothing out of the realm of normal."

"Her heart wasn't enlarged which means she didn't have a pre-existing heart condition. Based on the condition of her body, and her colouring, Whitney might have been underwater for at least 30 minutes. Her face was blue/yellow when taken out of the bathtub where she was found."

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