Some of the links in this post are affiliate links, which means if you click on the link and purchase an item, I will receive an affiliate commission at no extra cost to you.
Finally someone has gotten to the bottom of who leaked the Whitney Houston casket photos and it was a man by the name of Raffles van Exel according to sources at the Whigham Funeral Home (via Forbes). He was at the funeral and even traveled with the Houston family on the private plane to her funeral. The source at the funeral home says they saw him right take a photo of Whitney in her casket and alerted the family, who did nothing! Now we wait because I am sure he will deny such allegation!
According to Forbes,
Sources at the Whigham Funeral Home in New Jersey say they know, and they have an employee who saw the person take the picture. The person theyâ€™re pointing the finger at is Raffles van Exel, the hanger on I told you about in this column a couple of weeks ago. Van Exel, who has aliases of Raffles Benson and Raffles Dawson, was at the two private viewings of Whitneyâ€™s casket held at the Whigham Funeral Home. The first viewing was on the Friday night before the memorial service. The second one was on Sunday morning before the burial.
The people at Whigham noticed van Exel right away. Even though heâ€™s not a member of the Houston family, he traveled with them on the private plane from Los Angeles to New Jersey. He was the only non family member who accompanied Whitneyâ€™s sister in law/manager and newly appointed executor Pat Houston in her car to Whitneyâ€™s memorial and funeral and to the viewings. According to one source, he even had his own bodyguard with him, which was more than a little unusual. A source from Whighamâ€™s says when the picture appeared on the cover of the Enquirer, they told the Houstons of their suspicions. â€œThey didnâ€™t do anything ab0ut it,â€ says a source. â€œTheyâ€™re protecting him. How come they havenâ€™t gotten him out of their circle?â€
The Whighams people are not happy about the Raffles connection. While conducting another funeral in another part of town, of the funeral directors says she was spat upon by a stranger. The funeral home is concerned that fans think they allowed the National Enquirer picture to be taken. They did not. â€œThe Houston family invited everyone into that room. We had no role in that. We were told their security would handle everything. They didnâ€™t give us responsibility for that.â€ About 35 people came to the first viewing. The Wighams didnâ€™t know everyone. But they know none of their people were involved. Only one of their employees says they witnessed Raffles van Exel take the picture of Whitney in her coffin.
The burial, by the way, did not include $500,000 worth of jewelry. â€œIt was costume jewelry,â€ says the funeral director. â€œPleaseâ€¦â€
Calls and emails to van Exel have gone unreturned. His voice mail box is full. He answered one of my emails, asking what I wanted, and then didnâ€™t respond again. A second email was replied to, with a blank message. But itâ€™s not the first time van Exel has gone underground.
The famous R&B singer George Benson (â€œGive Me the Night,â€ â€œTurn Your Love Aroundâ€) has his own story about Raffles. Around 2005, he says, his lawyer had to send van Exel a cease and desist letter warning him not use the name Benson or describe himself as Bensonâ€™s son. George Benson has four living sons, and three deceased. Benson says that around 2004-2005 van Exel had ingratiated himself into Bensonâ€™s mansion in Engelwood, New Jersey.
â€œHe was there for a year on or off,â€ Benson told me. One day, Benson says, van Exel called him and told him to come home; he thought thereâ€™d been a robbery. When Benson returned to the house, he discovered $25,000 in cash was missing. Heâ€™d taken out of the bank to pay for home repairs. By the time he made the discovery, van Exel had vanished. â€œWe never saw him or heard from him again,â€ Benson recalls. Without tangible proof, he couldnâ€™t press charges with the local police. van Exel, as I reported in my original story, has sometimes been sued under the name Raffles Benson.
Photo from PR Photos