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Whitney Houston to be laid to rest Saturday in N.J.
The owner of the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark said Tuesday that the funeral will be held at noon at the New Hope Baptist Church in Newark.
The funeral home said that no wake would be held and that there would be no public memorial at Newark's Prudential Center, the sports arena that the family had discussed as a possible venue.
The funeral service will be by invitation only, Carolyn Whigham said, reflecting the family's desire to keep the memorial more personal.
"They have shared her for 30 some years with the city, with the state, with the world. This is their time now for their farewell," she said.
"The family thanks all the fans, the friends and the media, but this time is their private time," she said.
After an autopsy Sunday, authorities said there were no indications of foul play and no obvious signs of trauma on Houston. It could be weeks, however, before the coroner's office completes toxicology tests to establish the cause of death.
Los Angeles County coroner's assistant chief Ed Winter said there were bottles of prescription medicine in the room. He would not give details except to say: "There weren't a lot of prescription bottles. You probably have just as many prescription bottles in your medicine cabinet."
Her body was returned to New Jersey late Monday. A plane owned by actor-producerTyler Perry landed at an airport in Teterboro, New Jersey, where security was tight. A gold hearse left the airport and arrived just before midnight at the Whigham funeral home in Newark, the city where Houston was born. A crowd of about 50 fans had gathered outside.
Houston was born in Newark and was raised in nearby East Orange. She began singing as a child at New Hope Baptist Church, where her mother, Grammy-winning gospel singer Cissy Houston, led the music program for many years. Her cousin singer Dionne Warwick also sang in its choir.
An impromptu memorial for Houston was held Sunday during a sadness-tinged Grammys, with Jennifer Hudson saluting her memory with a performance of "I Will Always Love You." Viewership for the awards show soared over last year by 50 percent, with about 40 million viewers tuning in to the program on CBS.
On Monday, mourners left flowers, balloons and candles for Houston at the wrought-iron fence around the tall brick church, which sits near the edge of an abandoned housing project near the train line leading to New York City.
"She was an inspiration to everybody," said Gregory Hanks, an actor who grew up in the neighborhood and who dropped off a bouquet. He saw Houston perform in New Jersey years ago.
"I grew up listening to her as a little boy, and to hear her sing, you knew she was special," he said.
A sensation from her first album, 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.
She won six Grammys and more than 400 other awards in a 25-year career that also saw her star in such blockbuster films as "The Bodyguard." She was best known for her 1992 hit single "I Will Always Love You."
But Houston's success was eclipsed later in life by problems with drinking and drugs. She had a long history of addiction to alcohol, cocaine and marijuana, admitting so on television talk shows. She was in rehab as recently as May 2011.
Houston died in a Beverly Hills hotel room Saturday on the eve of the music industry'sGrammy Awards, and because of her drug battles, speculation arose that she might have died of a drug overdose.
Houston left behind one child, daughter Bobbi Kristina Brown, 18, from her marriage to singer Bobby Brown.
Wendy Williams shares her thoughts and feelings about the passing of Whitney Houston and reveals why she always felt a strong personal connection to the music icon and legend.
Report: Whitney Houston's body to be flown to Atlanta
Today on accessAtlanta
L.A. County Coroner officials allegedly have told Houston's family that she died from a combination of Xanax and other prescription drugs mixed with alcohol.
Houston was found unresponsive in a bathtub Saturday at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in California.
Houston, whose powerful voice fueled multiple No. 1 hits in the '80s and '90s, lived in Atlanta for many years with then-husband Bobby Brown.
Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown's Daughter, Bobbi Kristina, Rushed to the Hospital
Today 12:42 PM PST by Brandi Fowler
The 18-year-old only child of the late star and Bobby Brown was transported from the Beverly Hilton Hotel to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles Sunday and treated for stress, a source close to the family confirmed to E! News.
While the Beverly Hills Police Department confirmed that they responded to a medical emergency at the Beverly Hilton today, they refused to comment on whether the person in question was Bobbi Kristina. But the Beverly Hills Fire Department told E! News that it was indeed Bobbi Kristina who was taken from the hotel at 10:28 a.m.
No further information was immediately available on her condition.
People, meanwhile, reported that Bobbi was also taken to the hospital Saturday evening after suffering "complete breakdown" after Whitney's death. Neither Beverly Hills authorities nor sources close to the family could confirm that account, however.
Saturday night, during his New Edition reunion concert in Southaven, Miss., a choked-up Bobby told the crowd, "Just say a prayer for my daughter, say a prayer for her mother, and if you find the time please say a prayer for me because I am going to need it."
In a new statement today, Brown requested that everyone respect his and Bobbi's privacy during this difficult time.
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Whitney Houston dead at 48
Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.
At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world's best-selling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.
Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like "The Bodyguard" and "Waiting to Exhale."
She had the he perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.
She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.
But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanor and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.
"The biggest devil is me. I'm either my best friend or my worst enemy," Houston told ABC's Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.
It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.
She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.
Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.
"The time that I first saw her singing in her mother's act in a club ... it was such a stunning impact," Davis told "Good Morning America."
"To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine," he added.
Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with "Whitney Houston," which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. "Saving All My Love for You" brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. "How Will I Know," ''You Give Good Love" and "The Greatest Love of All" also became hit singles.
Another multiplatinum album, "Whitney," came out in 1987 and included hits like "Where Do Broken Hearts Go" and "I Wanna Dance With Somebody."
The New York Times wrote that Houston "possesses one of her generation's most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity."
Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the "Soul Train Awards" in 1989.
"Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?" she told Katie Couric in 1996. "You're not black enough for them. I don't know. You're not R&B enough. You're very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them."
Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop's pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.
But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.
"When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place," she told Rolling Stone in 1993. "You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that's their image. It's part of them, it's not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody's angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy."
It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of "The Star Spangled Banner" at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America's sweetheart.
In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with "The Bodyguard." Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.
It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton's "I Will Always Love You," which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy's record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the "Bodyguard" soundtrack was named album of the year.
She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with "Waiting to Exhale" and "The Preacher's Wife." Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, "My Love Is Your Love," in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut "It's Not Right But It's Okay."
But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time "The Preacher's Wife" was released, "(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. ... I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. ... I wasn't happy by that point in time. I was losing myself."
In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.
Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.
She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumors spread she had died the next day. Her crude behavior and jittery appearance on Brown's reality show, "Being Bobby Brown," was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared "crack is whack," was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.
Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album "I Look To You." The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.
Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on "Good Morning America" went awry as Houston's voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.
A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Canceled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.
Blood found on comforter in Josh Powell's storage unit
- Washington authorities search a storage unit belonging to Josh Powell
- A "presumptive test" of a comforter found inside the unit detected blood
- Powell's wife has been missing since December 2009
- Police say Josh Powell killed his two sons and himself last Sunday
It was not immediately clear who the blood belonged to or how much investigators found on the comforter, which was among the items inside a unit at Western Self Storage in Sumner, Washington. The property report from authorities indicated succinctly that a "presumptive test" of the comforter had tested positive for blood.
Prior to setting a deadly fire Sunday at his Puyallup, Washington, home, Josh Powell was the only person identified by law enforcement authorities in West Valley City, Utah, as someone they were investigating in the disappearance of his wife, Susan Cox-Powell.
According to a search warrant request by Pierce County, Washington, Sheriff's Detective Ryan Salmon, last Sunday "several people began calling 911 saying they had received e-mails from Joshua Powell, telling them goodbye, that he could not live without his kids, and to take care of several things related to his finances."
Before authorities arrived, Powell is accused of snatching his young sons from a social worker who was delivering them for a supervised visit, locking the door, hacking the kids with a hatchet and starting an explosive fire in the home.
According to the detective, Powell last visited the storage unit on the day before he was accused of committing the double murder-suicide. That same day, he withdrew $6,500 in cash from a bank -- money that is "unaccounted for," the document said.
In addition to the comforter, authorities took two plastic bins with miscellaneous items, a box with blocks, a white garbage bag filled with children's clothes and linens, another bag with toys and framed photos from the storage unit. Most of those items were handed over to relatives of Cox-Powell, the property report states.
Funeral services for the two slain boys -- Charlie, 7, and Braden Powell, 5 -- will be held Saturday.
Josh Powell had said that he last saw Susan in December 2009, after he and his two sons left after midnight to go camping in below-freezing weather in a desert area in Tooele County, Utah. Cox-Powell's sister eventually reported the mother, who would now be 29 years old, as missing.
A month later, Powell and his children moved from Utah to Washington.
Southern California -- this just in
Marine fatally shot by O.C. deputy had young daughters nearby
A decorated Marine who was fatally shot by an Orange County sheriff's deputy in a high school parking lot was described as a deeply religious man who regularly went to the campus track with his young daughters for early-morning prayer walks.
Sgt. Manuel Loggins Jr.was shot to death during the predawn hours Tuesday under largely unexplained circumstances in a parking lot at San Clemente High School. Loggins' daughters, 9 and 14, were sitting nearby in the family SUV at the time of the shooting.
Loggins, who was based at Camp Pendleton, was driving "at a high rate of speed" when he crashed his Yukon SUV through a gate at the parking lot about 4:30 a.m. Tuesday, said sheriff's spokesman Jim Amormino.
A nearby deputy who'd been doing paperwork in his patrol car pulled up behind the Yukon. Loggins emerged from the SUV and headed toward the athletic field, apparently ignoring the deputy's orders to stop, Amormino said.
When Loggins turned and headed back to the Yukon, the deputy suddenly felt threatened and opened fire, Amormino said. Amormino said he did not know why the deputy felt threatened, or how many shots were fired, or whether Loggins was armed.
Marine sources said Loggins was not in possession of a weapon. Loggins was taken to Mission Hospital, where he died. Major Christopher Cox said Loggins had been scheduled to work at 7:30 that morning at the base, where he managed the inbound and outbound cargo.
"They would take their Bibles and walk around the track in the morning," Cox said.
He said Loggins' wife usually accompanied them but is pregnant and was unable to go.
Cox said Loggins volunteered with a Big Brothers group and at nursing homes, and was close to earning a bachelor's degree in nursing.
The deputy who shot him was placed on administrative leave, which is routine. His name has not been released. The Orange County district attorney's office, which is investigating the shooting, declined to comment.
Suspect in attempted Wal-Mart kidnapping on probation for manslaughter
"We're pretty confident we've got the right guy," Pesnell said.
But as Woods was being led in handcuffs from the police department to a patrol car, he told reporters that the police had the wrong man.
"I was never there," Woods said.
According to police, Woods started talking to Brittney Baxter in the toy aisle of the Wal-Mart and then grabbed her and put his hand around her mouth.
But Brittney kicked and screamed, and the man let her go, police said. Neither she nor her mother, who was nearby in the store, was injured.
"When she told me someone had tried to get her, I just couldn't believe it," Brittney's mother, Georgeann Baxter, told Channel 2 Action News.
Store surveillance cameras captured the incident, and based on the description of the suspect's vehicle, police located Woods a few miles away in Tallapoosa, Pesnell said.
Woods was charged with attempted kidnapping, and additional charges are likely, Pesnell said. The suspect was being held in the Haralson County Jail. GBI agents are assisting with the investigation.
Woods was released in October from the Wheeler Correctional Facility, where he had been since April 2007 following his manslaughter conviction in DeKalb, according to the state Department of Corrections. He was placed on probation after serving out his sentence.
According to DeKalb County jail records, Woods, previously of Tucker, was arrested in October 2004, three months after the crime for which he was convicted. He was 17 years old at the time.
The Bremen police chief praised Brittney's actions.
"She did exactly what we teach the little ones to do at a time like that," Pesnell told Channel 2.
AP NEWSBREAK: DETROIT HIT MAN SAYS DAVONTAE SANFORD IS INNOCENT, WILL TESTIFY
January 30, 2012
IONIA, Mich. — A Detroit hit man in prison for eight murders said he’s willing to publicly take responsibility for four more to help clear a young man who claims he’s innocent of the slayings and confessed at age 14 only to satisfy police.
Vincent Smothers’ testimony would be the most crucial evidence yet to try to persuade a judge to throw out Davontae Sanford’s guilty plea and free him from a nearly 40-year prison sentence. In an interview with The Associated Press, Smothers declared: “He’s not guilty. He didn’t do it.”
Smothers said he never used a 14-year-old accomplice – blind in one eye and learning disabled – to carry out his paid hits, mostly victims tied to Detroit’s drug trade. Ironically, there’s no dispute that Smothers confessed to the so-called Runyon Street slayings when he was captured in 2008, but prosecutors have never charged him and never explained why.
“I understand what prison life is like; it’s miserable. To be here and be innocent – I don’t know what it’s like,” Smothers said of Sanford, who is now 19. “He’s a kid, and I hate for him to do the kind of time they’re giving him.”
Told about the AP interview, Sanford’s attorney said she soon would ask a judge to bring Smothers to court.
“If we can get Mr. Smothers up on the stand, it would be awesome for Davontae,” Kim McGinnis said Monday.
Smothers, 30, spoke over a phone Saturday at the Michigan Reformatory with a glass window separating him from an AP reporter. He’s 130 miles west of Detroit where he unflinchingly killed people on streets, inside homes and even while he talked on a cell phone. He finally was arrested in an alley in 2008 while holding his daughter.
Smothers quickly confessed to a series of murders, including the execution-style shooting of a Detroit officer’s estranged wife for $50. He says he was paid $60,000 over a two-year period. He eventually pleaded guilty to eight slayings and was sentenced to at least 52 years in prison.
Sanford, meanwhile, has been fighting to get out of prison. A Wayne County judge soon is expected to decide whether to throw out his guilty plea to four killings on Runyon Street in 2007. McGinnis has worked to discredit the police investigation. She discovered major holes, including Smothers’ confession and the fact that a gun used in the murders was found at the home of an accomplice who, like Smothers, hasn’t been charged.
Prosecutors, however, have refused to back away from Sanford’s guilty plea. At times, they have acknowledged that Smothers may have been involved but they won’t rule out a role for the younger man.
“There is no link between me and him,” Smothers told the AP. “I never knew him.”
McGinnis has been desperate to get Smothers on the witness stand. He invoked his right against self-incrimination last year but was willing to allow his attorney, Gabi Silver, to testify about what he told her about Runyon Street. The prosecutor, however, objected and courts said no.
Listen to Nancy Lockhart’s interview with Davontae’s mother Taminko Sanford and his attorney Kim McGinnis by clicking on link below:
The prosecutor’s office had no comment Monday about Smothers’ willingness to testify. Silver said Smothers has “always wanted to right this wrong.”
“It’s too bad that a kid who didn’t have anything to do with this crime is sitting in prison. That to me is a tragedy,” Silver said.
With short hair, clear face and a thin build, Smothers looks much younger than his 30 years. He smiled often during the interview and expressed dry humor, especially when he described odd jobs – drywall, plumbing, roofing – while a student at Detroit’s Kettering High School and later a factory job in Warren.
“You sound surprised,” Smothers said of his resume.
He declined to talk about why he became a hit man but said, “I understand people think I’m a monster.”
“Over the course of my young adulthood, I developed a hard heart where people didn’t matter … When you grow up in the city there’s just certain facts of life,” Smothers said.
Ed White can be reached on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/edwhiteAP
Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/2012/01/30/1807085/apnewsbreak-detroit-hit-man-says.html#storylink=cpy
Click on http://www.change.org/petitions/new-trial-for-davontae-sanford to sign petition for a new trial for Davontae.