Whitney Houston’s former aide Raffles van Exel has spoken out about the death of his close friend.
Raffles claims he went to check on the late singer in her suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel and found her bodyguard Ray Watson frantically pumping her chest.
The entertainment consultant then instinctively stepped forward and placed a towel over Whitney’s body after it was removed from the bathtub where she died.
The aide has revealed all in an interview with the Sunday Mirror, also opening up about how he allegedly was left comforting the star’s daughter Bobbi Kristina.
He revealed he was due to shoot an infomercial at the hotel on February 11, the day Whitney died, but found her family including sister-in-law and manager Patricia Houston in tears when he went to check up on her in her room.
He said: ‘I saw Whitney lying on the floor with her bodyguard, who’d lifted her out, trying to give her CPR. It was the first time in my life I had seen a dead body. She was on the floor, totally naked. I don’t know where it came from, but I got a towel and placed it over her navel. Ray got up and started shaking his head and crying.’
Raffles went on: ‘After no more than a minute, the police and paramedics arrived. They wanted to use defibrillators to try to get her heart started, but they couldn’t because the water was still running out of the bath and was overflowing on to the carpet. The carpet on which Whitney was lying was soaked through so there was a risk everyone would be electrocuted.
‘They picked Whitney up and moved her from the bathroom to the living area. I helped one of the detectives move a sofa out on to the patio to make room. The police ordered everyone out but Pat refused. I told Pat I had to leave, that I could not take it anymore.’
With the diva’s family left in shock, Raffles says it was up to him to console a distraught Bobbi Kristina, 19.
He said: ‘I walked into Bobbi Kristina’s room and she was crying and bawling. She asked me, “Is my mummy gone?” I said, “They are working on her.”
‘She held me and said, “I can’t believe she is gone.” I didn’t want to be the one who told her her mother was dead.’
Raffles was close friends with Whitney for 24 years before she died aged 48 in February.
And while he saw her in the depths of her drug addiction, he admitted he was ‘shocked’ to find out she was still abusing cocaine, which was found in her system at the time of her death.
He said: ‘Whitney was good at hiding her drug habit. I honestly thought she was clean in the two years before she died. Yes, she would have the occasional drink. And I knew she was taking painkillers and the anxiety drug Xanax. But I never suspected she was using hard drugs.
‘It really shocked me when I found that out. And actually it made me quite mad because I thought, “Whitney, you had us all fooled.” Everyone thought Whitney was in a good place and we never imagined anything like this was going to happen.’
Shortly after Whitney’s death, Raffles was faced with allegations he had cleaned her hotel room of drugs, but he was soon told by police he was in the clear.
He told the newspaper: ‘The only thing I did was help Whitney’s family take all her belongings out of the hotel room after the police had given us permission to clear it. I did not clean the room and I never said I did.
‘After Whitney died, the crucifixion of Raffles van Exel began and my life has been a living hell ever since. I’ve been called everything from Rihanna’s drug dealer to Hollywood’s biggest importer of narcotics. None of it is true.’
He added: ‘Whitney always promised she would make me famous, but this is the one promise I wish she had not kept.’