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Whitney Houston`s Deadly Secrets

Aired February 13, 2012 - 19:00   ET


JANE VELEZ-MITCHELL: I`m Jane Velez-Mitchell, coming to you live from Los Angeles.

Whitney Houston`s deadly secrets. What do we know tonight about the days, hours, and minutes leading up to the superstar`s death? Were drugs or alcohol involved?

Tonight, we`re going to talk to people who saw her shortly before she died, and we`re going to show you the last-known video of Whitney Houston, next.


VELEZ-MITCHELL (voice-over): The secrets behind the death of music icon, Whitney Houston. The 48-year-old powerhouse was found dead in a bathtub in a Beverly Hills hotel room. The singer struggled with addiction for years, and now we`re learning bottles of prescription drugs were discovered at the scene. Did they contribute to her death? And if so, how many more people do we have to lose before America wakes up and does something about this prescription drug abuse epidemic?

I`m live from Los Angeles, and I`m taking your calls.



UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The tragic death of Whitney Houston, gone at the young age of 48 years old.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation into Miss Whitney Houston`s death is ongoing.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Was devastated. She`s so great.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: There are too many questions, and one of the big questions is, what happened in that hotel room?

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Every little girl dreamed watching her. And she was beautiful, absolutely beautiful. And no one -- there`ll never be another Whitney Houston, as far as I`m concerned.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: It was very overwhelming in my spirit, my soul. And I didn`t only think about me, but I thought about other people`s struggles.

UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: We love you, Whitney Houston!



VELEZ-MITCHELL: It`s a tough question, but we have to ask it. Why did Whitney Houston die? Tonight, we dive into that question, seeking answers with a team of experts: people who knew her, and those who saw her shortly before she died.

After all this, this music legend, this amazing singer was only 48 when she was found dead Saturday afternoon in the tub of her Beverly Hills hotel room. No signs of foul play, but cops did find prescription pill bottles.

And there was Whitney`s odd behavior Thursday, two days before she died. Whitney suddenly interrupted a TV interview with mentor Clive Davis as cameras rolled. Here is a preview of what we`re going to show you from E! News.


HOUSTON: It`s my dad. My dad. I`ll see you later. I`ll see you later. Mom, come see her. OK?


VELEZ-MITCHELL: And later Thursday night, more bizarre behavior at a pre-Grammy party thrown by Whitney`s friend, singer Kelly Price. Listen carefully, because this could be the key.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whitney partied. She drank champagne. She sang and gave a performance that was unscheduled, because I never expected her to take the stage. I knew she was going to be there for me, and she was. And as I addressed the audience to give acknowledgement to her being there, she decided to come up on the stage, and after we embraced each other, she said, "Give me the microphone."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Drinking, partying, even though Whitney Houston had gone to rehab less than a year ago as part of a very long battle with drugs and alcohol. Could a little champagne trigger a deadly binge?

Tonight, the L.A. coroner is revealing that several prescription drugs were found in the hotel room where she died. The "New York Daily News" reports they included anti-anxiety medications like Valium, Lorazepam, and Xanax. But we will not know the official cause of death until the toxicology reports come back weeks from now.

And then there`s Whitney`s young daughter, Bobbi Kristina, hospitalized not once, but twice in the wake of her mother`s sudden death. Our hearts go out to this young woman.

So what do you think happened? And how have you reacted to this terrible news? Call me: 1-877-JVM-SAYS. That`s 1-877-586-7297.

Straight out to Mike Walters from TMZ, which has been ahead on this story from the start. Mike, what are you learning tonight about Whitney`s death and what may have caused it?

MIKE WALTERS, TMZ: Well, Jane, I have confirmed one thing for you, and that is we obtained pictures from inside the room right after Whitney Houston passed away, and she 100 percent ordered alcohol to the room as part of her final meal. I can tell you there was a glass of champagne empty on the table, which we`re told she consumed, and also a Heineken beer that you can clearly see on the table.

Now, I can tell you that the family was told by the coroner`s office what they should expect, and that is, there`s some sort of mix of alcohol and prescription medication led to her being submerged in that bathtub. And I can tell you that there was some water found in her lungs, but not connecting to something like a drowning. There was not enough in the lungs, and that is what the family has been told.

I can also tell you that some of the medication found, one being Xanax, the other being amoxicillin. Apparently, she was sick in days leading up to this tragic night. But remember -- think about it -- alcohol, Xanax don`t mix. And if she was mixing those at all the night she died, which we won`t know until the toxicology reports come out, that could have been a trigger to this tragic event.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And it`s important for me to say, personally, as a recovering alcoholic with 16, and hopefully by April, 17 years of sobriety, we are not asking these questions tonight to in any way dim the star of this amazing talent, this genius who won so many awards and accomplished so much and touched so many hearts.

It is our responsibility as journalists to look into a sudden cause of death when it involves somebody who has a long history of substance abuse. If we were not to do this, we would not be living up to our responsibility as journalists. It`s not our responsibility to gloss over it.

So I want you to know where we`re coming from, viewer. We all love Whitney Houston, and our heart goes out to her daughter, Bobbi Kristina.

Briefly, what is the latest on Bobbi Kristina, Mike?

WALTERS: Well, I can tell you, she was hospitalized twice, and when she was released the second time, when she was taken by ambulance, we`re told that family members were around her, were able to console her, that she was suicidal, but you know what? Like you just said, it`s understandable how tragic this event was. She`s a young 18-year-old girl. This is her mother. But I am told that they were able to console her. She`s now been released and is currently with family members, including her father, Bobby Brown, as Whitney is being transported by private jet back to the East Coast. But that is where she is currently and we`re told doing a lot better.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Mike Walters, TMZ, always good to talk to you, and good work on this story. You`ve been really out in front.

All right. We`re going to go back to two days before Whitney Houston`s death, Thursday. And this is something that was very strange. She crashed an "E!" news interview. It was a TV interview with singers Brandy and Monica and Whitney`s mentor, Clive Davis. And it was a very odd moment. Take a look, and then we`re going to analyze it.


CLIVE DAVIS, RECORD PRODUCER: We`re paying tribute. We`re paying tribute.

HOUSTON: I love you so much.

This is my dad. It`s my dad. I`ll see you later. I`m going to -- I`ll see you later. Mom -- Mom, come see her. Come say hi to your godfather. Come say hi to your god-dad.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: OK, that was daughter Bobbi Kristina, who gave Clive Davis a hug at Whitney`s urging.

I want to go to Ken Baker, "E!" News chief correspondent, who knows all about what happened here, because it struck me as a little odd that she`s wearing sunglasses indoors. Yes, she`s a movie star, but -- and a musician, who often do wear sunglasses indoors, but what struck you about this odd interchange?

KEN BAKER, E! NEWS CHIEF CORRESPONDENT: Well, there`s a lot of interesting things about that. And as we mentioned, this is the last known video that we really have of her, before she died. And so for that reason, I think that everyone watching it at home and just everyone that I know who has seen this video, it`s very moving and chilling, really, to see her in those last moments. It`s the last images we really have.

So that being said, a little context here. We were interviewing Brandy, Monica, and Clive Davis. They were promoting MusiCares, the benefit -- I`m sorry, the benefit that Clive Davis has every year, and they were giving an interview to us.

And Whitney Houston just was staying at the hotel, as we know now. She had just been at the pool and was just walking by and basically hopped into the interview room, unannounced. And to the surprise of everyone, and you can see in the video, including Clive and Brandy and Monica, and of course, Brandy on the left there.

If you look very closely, you can see that actually Whitney handed some sort of note to Brandy, and they`ve known each other for a very long time. And you can see that she looks at the note, and then hands it off to an assistant. And if you replay it enough, you can actually see this happen. Brandy looked a little uncomfortable, it seems to me, and to a lot of people who have seen it.

I think that what you saw there was Whitney Houston, just as a lot of people did see her, which was just -- just a very normal person, kind of, didn`t have a lot of boundaries, kind of spoke her mind. Always had a lot of levity to her, and was a very, you know, very emotional, loving person.

You can see there, she`s bringing Bobbi Kristina in to meet, to give a hug to Clive Davis, her godfather. So it was just a very interesting, candid moment. And just true to Whitney`s form, just completely unscripted.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Topher Gothroger (ph), you saw Whitney at the hotel. And what was your reaction to her behavior? You saw her right around this time, personally.

TOPHER GOTHROGER (PH): Yes, we ran into Whitney just before she did the "E!" News interview. We were also on site to do the interview with Brandy, Monica, and Clive Davis, and we ran into Whitney in the same ballroom where rehearsals for Clive Davis`s pre-Grammy party was taking place.

And the Whitney we saw was a bit frantic, kind of manic. She had two beverages in hand, what looked like an iced coffee and a water bottle in the other. She was kind of running to and from the ballroom. She had wet hair. We`re hearing now from her in that video that she was at the pool earlier that day.

And the Whitney we ran into, she kept kind of running up to the stage to give pointers to Monica and then she would kind of flail around the ballroom a little bit more, giggling to herself, mumbling to herself. At one point, she stuck her tongue out jokingly to myself and our staff. And it was just not the Whitney that we usually see so composed and poised on red carpets and on stages at award shows. This was a Whitney that reminded me more of the Whitney Houston I`ve seen on her reality show, "Being Bobby Brown," back in 2005.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And again, we are not going to jump to conclusions. We won`t know for sure until the toxicology reports come back, but Howard Samuels, founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center and addiction specialist, on the other side of the break, we`re going to have you give us an analysis of everything we`ve learned so far.

And also what happened later on that night when she drank champagne, given the fact that she is a person -- she was a person who was in recovery, who had a long battle with substance abuse. In fact, her own mother did an intervention just three years ago with sheriffs.

So we say this again. Not to be disrespectful. We all love Whitney Houston. We admired her talent. Her voice was unmatched. My heart goes out to her daughter. But, again, it`s incumbent upon us as journalists to examine what was going on and try to get answers.

And we`re going to take your calls on this: 1-877-JVM-SAYS, 1-877-586- 7297.

More on Whitney Houston`s tragic death and lifetime of achievements ahead.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: That is Whitney Houston, with the unmatched voice. And we are looking into the cause of her death. We won`t know for sure until the toxicology reports come back in several weeks. But we are learning things tonight.

Of course, we learned two days before her death, she was acting in some say it was bizarre fashion, interrupting a TV interview. And then later that night, she goes to this Hollywood party thrown by her friend, singer Kelly Price, who says she saw Whitney drinking champagne. Again, this is two days before Whitney died.

Listen to Kelly describe Whitney`s behavior at the Thursday night pre- Grammy party.


UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whitney partied. She drank champagne. She sang and gave a performance that was unscheduled, because I never expected her to take the stage. I knew she was going to be there for me, and she was. And as I addressed the audience to give acknowledgement to her being there, she decided to come up on the stage, and after we embraced each other, she said, "Give me the microphone."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, Whitney unexpectedly took to the stage at that pre-Grammy party Thursday night and sang "Jesus Loves Me." Let`s listen.




VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, another sign that things might have been off is when Whitney left that pre-Grammy party Thursday night. Photographs that we`re going to show you right now reveal Whitney looking disheveled, and she had a cut on her wrist.

There were reports she got into an argument with "X Factor" finalist singer Stacy Francis. Stacy Francis was apparently talking to Whitney`s on-again/off-again boyfriend, Ray J. And then we do have some video of Whitney leaving the bar with a very, very large entourage.

And I guess, Howard Samuels, founder and CEO of the Hills Treatment Center, addiction specialist, if you listen to all of this, we do not know what was in her system, but what are your thoughts?

HOWARD SAMUELS, ADDICTION SPECIALIST: First of all, Jane, let`s look at the overview. This is a person with a history of treatment centers, addiction, alcoholism. So Whitney was not in recovery. People in recovery don`t have bottles of Xanax, Valium, drink champagne.

So, unfortunately, she was in her active addiction and alcoholism. That was what is really shown with her behavior, lack of boundaries, just, you know, the whole -- the whole picture we have here.

So the problem we`ve got is that you`ve got somebody, and where are the people that love Whitney? Where are the people that are trying to help her? Why are everyone that`s surrounding her, why were they not intervening on this person? That, to me, is the question of the day.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, K. Foxx, TV personality, host of Hot 97 morning show, we all love Whitney Houston. Again, we`re not diving into this to besmirch her. Far from it. If we can learn something from this, then she will not have died in vain. I don`t think we`re at the point in our culture where so many stars have died that we can just say, "Well, nothing to see here." Your thoughts?

K. FOXX, HOST, HOT 97 MORNING SHOW: Yes, definitely. I think that this is a tragedy. I grew up listening to Whitney Houston. I was in the mirror dancing and singing, like I wanted to aspire to be just like Whitney. And when I heard about her death, it was just -- it was actually shocking to me, because I didn`t want to think that it was some sort of suicide. And as soon as I heard about it, I thought, oh, maybe drugs were involved.

But of course, now we`re all speculating, and I just think it`s an untimely death for her, because she was only 48 years old. And it`s just a really sad situation.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. On the other side, we`re going to take a look at her history and how her mother even did an intervention, next.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: Why did Whitney Houston die at the age of 48? We are investigating tonight, but first, breaking news out of the Los Angeles County coroner`s office. We go straight out to CNN correspondent, Casey Wian, who`s got the latest breaking news -- Casey.

CASEY WIAN, CNN CORRESPONDENT: Jane, what we can tell you is the Los Angeles county coroner, Ed Winter, confirms that Whitney Houston`s body has actually left this office and is on a plane that has left Van Nuys Airport here in the Los Angeles area, heading back to New Jersey, where funeral services are expected to take place later this week.

Some other information we can pass along from the coroner, from earlier today. As has been mentioned, he confirms that prescription drug medication was found in Whitney Houston`s hotel room. He would not detail any specifics, officially, of what kind of drugs were found there. He did say there were no obvious signs of trauma and that foul play is not suspected at this time.

He did say something that may or not -- may or may not be very pertinent to this case, but it was at least interesting. He said the number of prescription medications that were found in Whitney Houston`s hotel room were no more than would be found in the coroner`s own home.

Also an update from the Beverly Hills Police Department. They say that they have completed their preliminary investigation into the Whitney Houston death. They say it is not a criminal inquiry. It is now in the hands of the coroner.

And neither of these law enforcement agencies say they will have anything more to say officially until the toxicology tests are complete, which is expected to take anywhere between six and eight weeks, Jane.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Casey, thank you so much for that update from the L.A. County Coroner`s Office.

Of course, Whitney battled substance abuse publicly for more than a decade. In 2000, pot was found in her bag at an airport in Hawaii. Those charges eventually dropped. And then in 2002, she finally admits to Diane Sawyer she has a problem. Check this out from ABC.


HOUSTON: First of all, let`s get one thing straight: crack is cheap. I make too much money to ever smoke crack. Let`s get that straight, OK? I don`t do crack. We don`t do that. Crack is whack.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: I want to go to Allison Samuels, "Daily Beast" and "Newsweek" writer and reporter. You interviewed -- you interviewed Whitney at least six times. It`s sad to say, but "crack is whack" is perhaps one of the most famous phrases associated with her. What do you know?

ALLISON SAMUELS, "DAILY BEAST" AND "NEWSWEEK" WRITER AND REPORTER: Yes, that was something once she -- I think we were all surprised when we saw Whitney on that interview and watched her actually admit that she did use drugs and then sort of make jokes about it in some kind of way. It was the oddest moment that I had seen of her on television.

I`d interviewed her before where she was not herself, but to see her on television, you know, in front of millions and millions of people, you know, just sort of letting it all hang out in many ways was, I think, a moment that many of us won`t ever forget about her. I think that goes on her bio reel, for sure.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, and that is a moment that sticks out in so many people`s minds.

Addiction is a disease. It`s not something that one casts judgment on a person for having. It is a disease. Just like you get cancer or you get another disease. We`re looking at this as a possibility, this idea that her disease took her down. And up next, we`ve got some breaking news on that matter.



UNIDENTIFIED FEMALE: Whitney Houston will be remembered as much for her personal demons as her success.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: The investigation into Miss Whitney Houston`s death is ongoing.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: A lot of different speculation concerning her history of drug abuse, alcohol issues.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Tragedy. Such a talented human being -- she set the standard for a bunch of singers right now. And she`s gone. It`s sad.

WHITNEY HOUSTON, SINGER: I love the lyric, I love what it said. I loved -- I knew what -- how I could interpret it, and I knew that if I sang it, it would come from my heart.

GEORGE CLOONEY, ACTOR: What a tragedy. What a terrible, terrible tragedy.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Such an amazing talent, such an unmatched voice, such a terrible loss. Was Whitney Houston`s death preventable?

Good evening, everyone. Jane Velez-Mitchell back with you live from Hollywood.

What can we learn from Whitney Houston`s untimely death at the age of 48? Perhaps there were signs there. We have to learn to see the signs. She exhibited bizarre behavior at a pre-Grammy party thrown by Whitney`s friend, singer Kelly Price. Watch Kelly`s eyewitness account.


KELLY PRICE, SINGER: Whitney partied. She drank champagne. She sang and gave a performance that was unscheduled, because I never expected her to take the stage. I knew she was going to be there for me, and she was. And as I addressed the audience to give acknowledgement to her being there, she decided to come up on the stage. And after we embraced each other, she said, "Give me the microphone."


VELEZ-MITCHELL: We`ve just learned that Whitney`s body will be returning for a tribute and funeral in New Jersey, where she will be laid to rest. Just minutes ago, we got this breaking -- this breaking news from TMZ. Listen carefully.


MIKE WALTERS, NEW MANAGER, TMZ: She 100 percent ordered alcohol to the room as part of her final meal. I can tell you, there was a glass of champagne empty on the table, which we`re told she consumed, and also a Heineken beer that you can clearly see on the table. There`s some sort of mix of alcohol and prescription medication led to her being submerged in that bathtub. And I can tell you that there was some water found in her lungs, but not connecting to something like a drowning.

Some of the medications found, one being Xanax and one being amoxicillin. Apparently she was sick in days leading up to this tragic night. Bur remember, think about it, alcohol, Xanax don`t mix.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: How did you react to the news? Give me a call, 1- 877-JVM-SAYS.

Straight out to Jawn Murray, entertainment journalist and pop culture expert; John, we`ve all been struggling, and I`m a recovering alcoholic with 16, hopefully by April, 17 years of sobriety. We know how to cover this. We don`t want to gloss it over, because I think that does a disservice, given that for example, America is in the middle of a prescription drug overdose epidemic. It`s happening all over the country. Prescription drugs are killing more people than illegal drugs at this point.

But we also don`t want to be disrespectful. And we certainly don`t want to jump to conclusions. We do not know her cause of death until the tox report comes back. But these reports that she was drinking champagne two nights before, that we saw it on camera, her acting bizarrely, interrupting an interview, leaving a party, disheveled. How do you draw the line? How do we, as a culture, look at this respectfully?

JAWN MURRAY, ENTERTAINMENT JOURNALIST: Well, Jane, one of the things I`ve been saying is that I think the record companies have to start being more accountable. With our prized athletes, if you can`t pass a drug and alcohol test in the NBA, in the NFL, with the baseball leagues, you don`t play. You`re suspended. Even professional wrestling, which is scripted athletics, if you can`t pass the wellness test, you can`t perform.

We`ve got to do this for artists. I was once in Toronto, Canada, at a music if he feels, and famously went on the radio and pleaded for promoters to stop booking the group KC and Jojo because they were falling out drunk at the show. It ended up on YouTube, one of them busted their heads, and the show went on, Jane. Nobody cared.

You know, other groups were more concerned than their promoters, the handlers. We have to stop enabling these artists to be able to go forward, perform, and to move on in these unhealthy states.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Well, I would say Exhibit A was -- and no office to anybody -- keeping the party going. At the very same hotel where Whitney Houston`s body is on the fourth floor, she has not been removed from the hotel. Her daughter, Bobbi Kristina is hysterical there, and later has to be hospitalized twice. And yet the party goes on, thrown by her mentor, Clive Davis, which we could hear the music while people were in mourning.

One of the people I was there with is Pepper Mashay who is a demo artist, who did demos for Whitney Houston`s songs. And Pepper, you and I were there. You actually began singing a song, a Whitney Houston song, and party is going on, on the other side while the body of Whitney Houston remains in the hotel.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Your thoughts on all of that because we were there together Saturday night.

MASHAY: Well, first of all, I just thought it was really sad, Jane, that it had occurred. And especially while we were -- some of my friends, we were at the Lifetime Achievement Nominees Award Show, over at the Wilshire Ebel Theater when we all got the word out in the audience that she had passed.

And of course, me and my friend, Godwin, we jumped in the car and had to come over to the hotel, just to see what was going on. And we also had friends who were going to attend the Clive Davis party. And when I got there, everything just seemed like it was true. It wasn`t a story that was made up.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes, it certainly wasn`t. And I remember, you began singing a Whitney Houston song, and it touched my heart. And you told me the story about how you recorded a demo for Whitney. Tell us that briefly.

MASHAY: Darling I was hired by Franny Goldie Fox (ph) back in 1990 to do a song that was specifically going to Whitney`s album, "I`m Your Baby Tonight", the Babyface and L.A. Reid. And there was a song called "I Belong to You".

And my friend, Franny Goldie Fox, she invited me to come to the listening party and to see, you know, Whitney and everybody enjoy this album that was coming out.

When I get to the party --


VELEZ-MITCHELL: So it cuts you, because you are there. You`ve demoed a song that Whitney later sang using your rendition as a guide.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: What hits your heart? What hits your heart about this death?

MASHAY: It`s just really sad to see a woman who affected my life, all because of the fact of when she found out that I had sung the lead vocal to that song, she leaned over to me and said, you know, why didn`t you do the song? You sung the hell out of that song. And I`m looking at her and smiling and saying, thank you, because what she did for me was to give me the confidence to go on with my career at the time when people were saying, you`re too old to be signed. We`re only signing younger people.

And to this the day, I`m still doing my shows.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Let me jump in and say that -- and it`s all because of Whitney. And everybody I`ve talked to, no matter what you have to say about her substance abuse, everybody says she was just the sweetest woman. I talked to hairdressers who did her hair when I was at Staples Center on Sunday for the Grammys, and they were just saying, she was so nice. And you know, it`s how they treat the hairdressers and the makeup people that shows you what they`re really like. And yet, despite all that kindness and that talent, it`s this drug abuse that we remember.

Whitney Houston`s husband, singer Bobby Brown, who she later divorced, signed on to do this reality show back in 2005. We all remember this. Whitney reluctantly agreed to take part and here`s a clip from "Being Bobby Brown" from Bravo and YouTube. Check it out.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: Now, some people describe that as a toxic marriage, and there were reports that they both did drugs together. Allison Samuels, "Newsweek", "The Daily Beast", I don`t want to speak for anybody. I`ve never met Bobby Brown and I wish him only the best, but what do you know about that?

ALLISON SAMUELS, "NEWSWEEK": I know that that was a reality show that Whitney didn`t want to do, that Bobby had to convince other people to convince Whitney to do, because she did not want to do that show.

She was very well aware of her weaknesses. She was very well aware of how that would look on camera. And that`s why she really didn`t want to do it. So she did it to keep that marriage alive. She really, really wanted to stay that marriage -- she wanted them to stay together, so she pretty much did whatever she could to keep Bobby, you know, at home.

And I think that included sometimes, you know, doing recreational drugs, or whatever. I think she did whatever it took to keep that friendship, that relationship going. She didn`t want to be alone, as many sort of women in this business and people in general feel the same way.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Well, it`s a tragedy all the way around. I want to go quickly to Katie in Michigan; your question or thought Katie.

KATIE, MICHIGAN (via telephone): Well, it`s about something Whitney did Thursday night at the party.


KATIE: I live here in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where the mother of El DeBarge lives, and I was watching my local news last night and we`re TV8 they did a phone interview with El DeBarge`s mother and she said that El DeBarge called her unconsolable. That at this party, Whitney grabbed ahold of him, hugged him, and she kept repeating, "Help me, help me, help me." And nothing was divulged as to what he said then or what she needed help with. But --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: This is what party? What party is this, Katie? What party did you hear this was?

KATIE: The party Thursday night where she sang with Kelly Price.


KATIE: Where everyone said she looked disheveled.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Huh, yes. And she said --


KATIE: And they showed pictures of her and El hugging.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Oh, wow. And she did look disheveled leaving that party, and there were some people who said she had a cut on her wrist and appeared to be out of it.

All right. We`re going to be back with more. We`re digging into the secrets that may have led to Whitney`s death.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: That was one of my favorites from Whitney Houston, who her charisma is so palpable, it just jumps out off the screen. It wasn`t just her astounding voice and all the awards she won and all the, what, 170 million albums she sold. It was that charisma. You know, people who are grappling with substance abuse often have intense charisma.

It wasn`t until 2009 that Whitney really came clean about the extent of her drug use. And she actually did that on Oprah. She actually explained how she would mix drugs to get a very specific high. Listen to this.


HOUSTON: You put your marijuana, you lace it, you roll it up, and you smoke it and your weed. It`s just another form. Just like -- almost like heroin and cocaine speed-balling, but you level it off with marijuana.



WINFREY: So your drug of choice was weed combined with cocaine.

HOUSTON: Rock cocaine.

WINFREY: Rock cocaine.



VELEZ-MITCHELL: Weed combined with cocaine. And there she was in 2009 talking as a person in recovery. Let`s give you her recovery history. In 2004, Whitney entered rehab for the first time. She left after five days and continued on an outpatient basis. A year later, she returned for her second stint in rehab. In 2009, you just heard, she revealed her drug secrets to Oprah. And then after that, she checked into rehab for a third time, just last year.

And then Jamison Monroe, we are learning that she drank champagne on Thursday night, two nights before her death. And there she is on Thursday night, pictures of her appearing a little out of it, a little disheveled, or some people say, quite disheveled. What do you make of this rehab history?

JAMISON MONROE, FOUNDER/CEO, NEWPORT ACADEMY: It`s obviously a star that`s struggling to get sober and continuing to be enabled by her handlers, her agents, and things like that, I`m sure of that.

But what she pointed out there in that interview with Oprah is that she used to use downers and uppers in combination to level off. And all the reports that we have now coming out of the hotel room are just about downers. So all the drugs she was taking: the Ativan, the Xanax, the Valium, those are all central nervous system depressants. And when you mix those with alcohol, which is also a depressant the body stops working.

And reports she was also sick, so her nervous system was already -- her immune system was already low. And then you pile on all these drugs that are depressants, and you have someone who are 48 and whose had a history of drug abuse and whose organs probably aren`t functioning at 100 percent, you definitely, you have a recipe for the body to just shut down, for the lungs to shut down, the heart to shut down, the kidneys to shut down, and unfortunately, that`s probably what happened in this case.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: And Jamison Monroe, you are the founder and CEO of the Newport Academy, but remember the first rule of journalism, never assume. We do not know the cause of death, even though prescription pills were found in her room. Even though TMZ is reporting that a Heineken bottle and champagne were found in her room. Even though her friends say she was drinking champagne on Thursday night, we cannot say what her cause of death was.

What we can say is somebody in recovery should never have even a drop of alcohol. As a recovering alcoholic myself, I do not even eat food that has any kind of alcohol that it`s been cooked with. I do not gargle with a mouth wash that has alcohol in it, Howard Samuels, for fear that if one drop gets into my system, I will completely lose control, and I have no idea where I will end up or what I will end up doing.

HOWARD SAMUELS, FOUNDER, THE HILLS TREATMENT CENTER: Well, exactly, Jane. And that has to be, you know, the code for us recovering addicts and alcoholics. I mean, the real question is, why didn`t Whitney hit a bottom? Why didn`t she have the psychic shift? Why isn`t she here today, like people like you and I who are recovering, we`re alive. We were able to have the psychic shift. Why do some people get it and some people have to die? That`s the sad thing about this disease of addiction.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. And so many people just really have no understanding of this disease of addiction, alcoholism, drug addiction. I have so many people who come up to me and say, well so what if she had some champagne. That`s not going to kill her.

And, you know, I`m not passing judgment. How would they know? They`re not -- if you`re not an addict or an alcoholic, you have no idea that a drop -- I actually had a psychiatrist say to me once, why can`t you have a glass of wine with dinner? And the point is that an addict or an alcoholic completely loses their ability to control when they have that first drink. So one is too much, a thousand isn`t enough.

And these are some of the aspects of addiction we can share with our viewers, because it`s a crisis.

More next.





VELEZ-MITCHELL: There is the one and only Whitney Houston. We`ve tragically lost her and we`re trying to figure out why and what we can learn from it. How many more stars are we going to lose before people wake up?

We don`t have Whitney Houston`s cause of death yet. We`ve been learning she was drinking a couple days before even though she`s in recovery, was in recovery; had gone into rehab less than a year ago.

And take a look at all the celebrities that have been linked to prescription drugs; prescription drugs were found in Whitney Houston`s room. Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Anna Nicole Smith, the list goes on and on. TMZ reporting some of the prescriptions in Whitney`s hotel room were filled at the infamous, well, at the Mickey Fine pharmacy -- let me just say it that way -- in Beverly Hills.

CNN hasn`t confirmed that but I know this from covering the Michael Jackson case. The Mickey Fine drugstore sold countless prescriptions to Michael Jackson at one time. Michael Jackson owed the Mickey Fine Pharmacy about $100,000 in prescriptions.

Jawn Murray, entertainment journalist, pop culture expert -- I mean, insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. If it turns out that the toxicology reports come back and determine that Whitney Houston was in fact on a bunch of drugs that had absolutely no medical necessity or were overtaken or overprescribed, is this time for a national wake-up call, given that more people are OD`ing from legal prescription drugs than they are illegal drugs?

MURRAY: Jane, we`re already past the time for a national wake-up call. And really quickly, I want to clear up two misreports of things that people have said today. Whitney Houston did not have slits on her wrists on that club. The blood that you saw on her leg, apparently she hit her leg on the way out of club because it was a crowd venue.

The reason she looked disheveled was for no other reason than she had been there for three hours and was partying with her other music friends. Everybody said she looked beautiful and elegant before she got there. And lastly the Bobby Brown thing -- Whitney Houston had a --

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Wait, wait. I have to jump in, Jawn. Ok. This is where the problem occurs. Because people said she was happy and joyous at the party. But she was drinking champagne at the party. Now I`m not saying this to point the finger. I`m a recovering alcoholic. God forbid I was ever seen out and about drinking alcohol. I want everybody to call the top interventionist in the country and put me on lock-down. I don`t care whether I was having one glass of champagne. For me it`s deadly. For anybody who is an addict, it is potentially deadly.

MURRAY: I definitely understand the severity in that. I`m not denying that part of it. The other thing I just want to say really quickly is that Whitney Houston did have a history of drug abuse before her marriage to Bobby Brown. When people say he led her down that road and she took drugs to stay with him, she had a problem before they got together. When they sang the song, "We Have Something in Common", they were telling us the truth.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: All right. Quick caller -- Whitney, South Carolina, your quick question or thought, Whitney.

WHITNEY, SOUTH CAROLINA: I just -- first of all I wanted to say thanks for letting me be on your show. I love Whitney Houston and she is my name sake and I am devastated. I grew up listening to her and I just hope everybody can get past all of the ugliness that`s there and just enjoy her music.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Her music will live on and her music is one of a kind -- unique. Her National Anthem, nobody has ever done it before or since as chillingly as she did.


VELEZ-MITCHELL: Final thoughts on Whitney Houston from Pepper Mashay, a singer who knew her and worked with her -- Pepper.

MASHAY: Thank you, Jane. And thank you for having me on the show. I would like to just tell everybody that Whitney was a really special person and especially instilling in a person like me the will to keep going on. Even with all of her problems and burdens. It was the fact that this woman was able to give somebody else the strength to continue what they love to do which is the music world.

And I would like to send condolences to her family and especially to Bobbi Kristina. That things will get better, baby. Just hang in there.

VELEZ-MITCHELL: Yes. Thank you. Thank you, Pepper. And I second your thoughts. Our hearts go out to her family.

We`ll have more tomorrow.