(NEW YORK-AFP) – A private funeral service for Whitney Houston will be held Saturday at the Newark, New Jersey church where the pop diva sang in a gospel choir as a child, the funeral home told AFP on Tuesday.
“The service will be held Saturday 12 noon (1700 GMT) at New Hope Baptist Church,” said an employee at the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, which was making preparations for Houston to be laid to rest.
There were conflicting reports about a public memorial with CBS television saying that a two-day event would be held at Newark’s Prudential Center sports arena, but NBC News saying the plans had been scrapped.
Houston was found dead on Saturday, at the age of 48, in her bathtub in a luxury suite of the Beverly Hilton hotel as preparations were under way for the Grammy Awards, the highlight of the music industry calendar.
The Newark Star-Ledger newspaper reported that the singing star’s body was brought to the funeral Home late Monday in a 12-car procession under police escort from nearby Teterboro Airport.
Houston, who possessed one of the greatest-ever singing voices and sold more than 170 million records, fought a long and public battle with substance abuse after her career and personal life went off the rails.
Fans were awaiting autopsy results that may not be made public for up to eight weeks, as speculation rages that the pop legend may have died from a lethal cocktail of prescription drugs and alcohol.
The autopsy was completed on Sunday but the results have been held back pending the completion of a toxicology probe.
Celebrity website TMZ said it learned from unnamed “family sources” that the singer died from a lethal combination of prescription drugs and alcohol.
Los Angeles assistant chief coroner Ed Winter would not speculate about the cause of death, but told reporters that some pill bottles were found in Houston’s hotel room.
“There weren’t a lot of prescription bottles,” he said. “You probably have just as many prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet.”
Fox News reported that six bottles of pills were found in the hotel room where Houston died, among them the prescription anti-depressant Xanax and other pain medication.