Entertainment

Autopsy for Bobbi Kristina Brown, daughter of Whitney Houston, will be 'challenging'

In the months since Bobbi Kristina Brown was found face down in a bathtub at her townhome in suburban Atlanta until her death in hospice care Sunday, time has been working against forensic pathologists and police investigators now tasked with solving how and why she died.

22-year-old died Sunday at Peachtree Christian Hospice in Georgia

      1 of 0

      In the months since Bobbi Kristina Brown was found face down in a bathtub at her townhome in suburban Atlanta until her death in hospice care Sunday, time has been working against forensic pathologists and police investigators now tasked with solving how and why she died.

      In a statement Monday morning, the Fulton County Medical Examiner's Office said the "initial portion of the autopsy has been completed."

      "The autopsy does not show an obvious underlying cause of death and no significant injuries were noted," the statement said.

      The medical examiner's office said "no previously unknown medical conditions that could have contributed to death were identified" and additional testing has yet to be done.

      The office said they don't plan to issue a death certificate or provide a cause of death until all tests are done and they've reviewed all Brown's records.

      "We anticipate that these processes will take several weeks," the news release said.

      Dr. Michael Baden, a former New York City medical examiner whose career spans 45 years, said ahead of the preliminary autopsy findings that any drugs would have passed from Brown's bloodstream and physical injuries would have been healing. He says that makes her hospital records essential to investigators.

      Bobbi Kristina died Sunday at Peachtree Christian Hospice in Duluth, Georgia, about six months after she was found Jan. 31, face-down and unresponsive in a bathtub in her suburban Atlanta townhome. She was 22.

      A police report described it as a drowning.

      Bobbi Kristina was the only child of Houston and R&B singer Bobby Brown.

      She had been hospitalized for months in Atlanta — eventually being placed in hospice care — after being found in a manner grimly similar to the way her megastar mother died three years earlier.

      Nick Gordon, who shared her townhome with her, said at the time it seemed Bobbi Kristina wasn't breathing and lacked a pulse before help arrived.

      Police investigation continues

      "The Roswell Police Department continues its investigation into the circumstances preceding and surrounding the time of the original incident leading to her death," the medical examiner said in Monday morning's statement.

      The medical examiner did not release a timeframe for the autopsy, but said additional lab testing might take several weeks.

      Born and raised in the shadow of fame and litigation, shattered by the loss of her mother, Bobbi Kristina was overwhelmed by the achievements and demons of others before she could begin to figure out who she was.

      Bobbi Kristina — the sole heir of her mother's estate — did have dreams.

      Dreamed of singing career

      She identified herself on Twitter as "Daughter of Queen WH," "Entertainer/Actress" with William Morris & Co., and "LAST of a dying breed." She told Oprah Winfrey shortly after her mother's death in 2012 that she wanted to carry on her mother's legacy by singing, acting and dancing. But her career never took off.

      Musician Bobby Brown is seen being driven from the Peachtree Christian Hospice after his daughter, Bobbi Kristina Brown, died on Sunday in Duluth, Georgia. (Marcus Ingram/Getty Images)

      She became a social media sensation, sending more than 11,000 tweets and attracting 164,000 followers.

      As the news of her death spread across social media, several celebrities tweeted their condolences.

      Grammy-winning performer Missy Elliot tweeted, "My heart is truly heavy. May u rest in peace with your mommy .BobbiKristina sending prayers 2 the Brown/Houston family."

      "Empire" star Taraji P. Henson tweeted, "Rest in heaven."

      "RIP .BobbiKristina My deepest sympathies 2 your father .BobbyBrown n your GrandMa .CissyHouston We will miss ya 4sho darling ;) Actress Vivica A. Fox said on Twitter.

      And Winfrey tweeted, "Peace at Last!"

      Whitney Houston, known as "America's Sweetheart," was an impossible act to follow.

      The late singer sold more than 50 million records in the United States alone during her career. Her voice, an ideal blend of power, grace and beauty, made classics out of songs like Saving All My Love For You, I Will Always Love You and The Greatest Love of All. She earned six Grammys and starred in the films The Bodyguard and The Preacher's Wife.

      Appeared in reality TV show

      Bobby Brown, who had a bad-boy image, also became a huge star, selling platinum records with New Edition and going solo before drugs and legal woes derailed his career.

      Bobbi Kristina appeared alongside both parents in 2005 on the Bravo reality show Being Bobby Brown, which captured her parents fighting, swearing and appearing in court. The Hollywood Reporter said it revealed that Brown was "even more vulgar than the tabloids suggest," and managed "to rob Houston of any last shreds of dignity."

      After their divorce in 2007, Houston kept custody of Bobbi Kristina and raised her alongside Gordon, an orphan three years older than her daughter. Houston brought Gordon into her family, and while she never formally adopted him or included him in the will, both teenagers called her "mom."

      Preliminary finding of accidental drowning 

      The threesome's tight bond was shattered when Houston's assistant found the singer's lifeless body face-down in a foot of water in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton Hotel just before the Grammy Awards in 2012. Authorities found prescription drugs in the suite, and evidence of heart disease and cocaine in her body, but determined her death was an accidental drowning.

      Bobbi Kristina, then 18, was at the hotel and became so hysterical she had to be hospitalized. "She wasn't only a mother, she was a best friend," she told Winfrey.

      She and Gordon then went public with their romance, posting defiant messages online after the tabloids accused them of incest.

      Relations between Gordon and some other relatives soured over the past year after Bobbi Kristina was hospitalized. A protective order barred him from being within 200 feet of Pat Houston, Bobbi Kristina's aunt. A feud erupted over whether Gordon could visit Bobbi Kristina while she stayed in the hospital.

      Legal wranglings with Nick Gordon

      On June 24, Bobbi Kristina's court-appointed representative sued Gordon, accusing him of misrepresenting his relationship with Bobbi Kristina. The complaint accused him of being violent toward her and taking more than $11,000 from her account while she was in a medically induced coma.

      The lawsuit also accused Gordon of assault, battery, intentional infliction of emotional distress, unjust enrichment and conversion.

      Fulton County District Attorney Paul Howard said he and his office are interested in reviewing the investigative file to determine whether any charges will be filed.

      Grandmother, aunt oversee trust fund

      Bobbi Kristina was fabulously wealthy for a teenager, but her money was in a spendthrift trust, designed to keep creditors and predators from taking advantage of people who can't manage their money. Bobbi Kristina's grandmother, Cissy Houston, and aunt, Pat Houston, eventually took over control of the trust and then took Bobbi Kristina to court to protect the estate.

      The size of Houston's estate is a privately held secret.

      In May, a judge appointed Bobby Brown and Pat Houston as co-guardians of Bobbi Kristina, giving them joint responsibility in decisions related to her care and medical needs. Lawyer Bedelia Hargrove was appointed conservator to oversee Bobbi Kristina's assets, including her rights and legal claims.

      By January 2014, the young couple who grew up as brother and sister were sharing a townhome and calling themselves husband and wife.

      They posted images of their hands wearing wedding rings, with the caption ".HappilyMarried. So .InLove. If you didn't get it the first time that is." They got identical "WH" tattoos with flying doves on their wrists, and Gordon added a large portrait of Houston's face on his arm.

      Their marriage announcement troubled Pat Houston, who obtained a restraining order against Gordon two months later.

      With files from CBC News

      Comments

      To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

      By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.