LOS ANGELES

As the music industry gathered in downtown Los Angeles for the annual Grammy Awards gala, the body of pop superstar Whitney Houston was resting blocks away in the county morgue as investigators awaited the results of an autopsy to determine what killed her Saturday afternoon at the Beverly Hilton hotel after two days of what associates described as erratic behavior.

Houston’s body was removed from the hotel in Beverly Hills early Sunday, and taken downtown to the morgue. The autopsy was finished Sunday, but the Los Angeles County coroner’s office said the official cause of death would await toxicology tests to determine whether there was alcohol or drugs in Houston’s system. Those tests could take several weeks to complete.

Investigators said Houston was found in the bathtub — suggesting that she might have drowned — but that no evidence of foul play was discovered.

Houston’s family issued a statement mourning her loss, as expressions of grief were heard across the country — from the Twitter postings of fans and celebrities, to church services, to the streets of Atlanta where she had lived.

“We are devastated by the loss of our beloved Whitney,” the family said. “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 singer, who was 48, had a long history of alcohol and drug abuse, and in the two days leading up to her death, she was seen behaving erratically and appeared disheveled and disoriented, including when she left a Hollywood nightclub Thursday night after a pre-Grammy celebration where she sang, hoarsely and haltingly, “Jesus Loves Me” with Kelly Price. She burst onto the set during a televised interview with Clive Davis, the record industry titan and her mentor, appearing skittish and giddy.

Houston’s daughter, Bobbi Kristina, who is 18, was taken to Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Sunday morning, according to a spokesman for the Beverly Hills Fire Department, apparently complaining of stress.

Bobby Brown, Houston’s ex- husband and Bobbi Kristina’s father, appealed for privacy.

In Newark, N. J., at the New Hope Baptist Church, where Houston sang as a child, mourners left condolence cards and placed candles, flowers and a rosary in tribute.

“This is where she grew up, this is where she first sang,” said Helena Hollinshed, 50, of Newark, who said she knew Houston as a child. “A lot of people in the community are devastated.”



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