Carolyn Whigham, the owner of the funeral home that handled Whitney Houston’s remains is said to be “devastated” that a photo showing the legendary singer’s body in an open casket was leaked to the National Enquirer.
It is believed the picture was taken inside the Whigham Funeral Home in Newark, New Jersey, where Whitney Houston’s family attended a private wake last Friday on the eve of her funeral.
Carolyn Whigham says neither she nor her staff is responsible.
“We did not take that photo. We did not sell the photo. We would never do something like that,” Carolyn Whigham told the New York Daily News.
Carolyn Whigham, who is a second-generation owner of the Whigham Funeral Home said she had a long-standing relationship with Whitney Houston.
“Whitney was a friend,” the business owner said.
“I’m the one who flew to Los Angeles and got Whitney from the coroner’s office. I did everything to protect her.”
The image shows the singer’s body resting inside her partially open casket.
The National Enquirer has run the snap alongside a bold headline proclaiming: “Whitney: The last photo!”
When the picture of Whitney Houston in open casket hit newstands, Carolyn Whigham said she received a number of distressing emails from irate Houston fans and she now fears for her staff’s safety.
“One email said that if the person owned a dog, and the dog died, they would not come to my funeral home,” Carolyn Whigham said.
“I’m worried about my employees, worried about me. 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.”
Whitney Houston’s mother Cissy and daughter Bobbi Kristina are said to be outraged about the photo.
“Their heart broken all over again” sources close to the family told TMZ.
One source said: “The family could tell from the photo that it was taken from inside the funeral home, but they have no idea who would have snapped the pic.”
Whitney Houston, 48, died in a hotel suite in Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles on 11 February.
A spokesman for the Los Angeles county coroner said multiple bottles of prescription medication were recovered from Whitney Houston’s room, but the official cause of her death has not been revealed.
The shocking National Enquirer cover photo shows Whitney Houston wearing a deep purple dress, a sparkling brooch and diamond earrings.
Carolyn Whigham disputed the tabloid’s claim that Whitney Houston was buried with $500,000 worth of precious stones.
“That’s crazy. It’s not true,” Carolyn Whigham told The Daily News.