Whitney Houston funeral home owner denies leak of photo in coffin
UPI News Service, 02/24/2012
The owner of a New Jersey funeral home Friday denied she sold a photo of Whitney Houston in her coffin published by the National Enquirer.
Carolyn Whigham, the second-generation chief executive officer of Newark's Whigham Funeral Home, told the New York Daily News she is "devastated" the image of Houston in her open casket at her private wake last weekend appeared on the cover of the tabloid.
"We did not take that photo. We did not sell the photo. We would never do something like that," Whigham told the Daily News.
"Whitney was a friend," she said. "I'm the one who flew to Los Angeles and got Whitney from the coroner's office. I did everything to protect her."
She said she has been inundated by negative e-mails since the photo first made headlines.
"I'm worried about my employees, worried about me," Whigham said. "I've been in business since 1943. This is my name, my character. Honestly, this is my life's work. We would never do something like this."
She also told the newspaper she has spoken to Houston's family and they do not blame her business.
The image shows Houston looking peaceful and beautiful in a purple dress, wearing sparkly earrings and a brooch, with makeup meticulously applied to her eyes and lips.
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Emblazoned on the cream-colored lining of her coffin were musical symbols and the word "Nippy," the nickname her family called her.
The Grammy Award-winning recording star was found dead Feb. 11 in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Her death at age 48 is under investigation, but a lethal combination of prescription drugs and alcohol is suspected as the cause.