|Medication Taken From Jackson's House|
|By LUCHINA FISHER (@luchina) and RUSSELL GOLDMAN (@GoldmanRussell)||Jun 25, 2009, 10:15 PM|
Workers from the Los Angeles County coroner's office returned to Michael Jackson's home this afternoon, taking medication and other evidence for their investigation of how the pop star died.
Ed Winter, the assistant chief county coroner, said that based on information obtained by the Los Angeles Police Department, his office had more questions about the medications in Jackson's home.
The investigation will continue for four to five weeks and will include extensive testing, he said.
"The family has been extremely cooperative," he said.
Members of the Jackson family have expressed doubts about the coroner's investigation, and today Joe Jackson said he will wait for a private autopsy to be performed before burying his son.
Also today, the promoter that runs the London arena where Jackson was scheduled to perform 50 concerts announced that it would offer full refunds to people who bought tickets to the shows.
AEG Live, the promoter, said that fans can also receive the concert tickets as souvenirs, but then they would not receive full refunds.
A Los Angeles judge late today granted Michael Jackson's mother Katherine limited control over some of her son's property that was held by a third party, though that party was not named in the judge's order.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff made her special administrator of the property pending a hearing on July 6.
The judge's ruling did not cover Jackson's financial assets, which includes his stake in the Sony-ATV Music Publishing Catalog, which includes music by the Beatles, Bob Dylan and the Jonas Brothers, and is estimated to be worth as much as $2 billion.
A hearing to consider those requests has been scheduled for Monday.
Earlier today, the same judge ruled that Katherine Jackson will get custody of his three children -- at least for now.
Beckloff granted the 79-year-old grandmother temporary guardianship of the children, Michael Joseph Jackson, Jr., known as Prince Michael, 12, Paris-Michael Katherine Jackson, 11, and Prince Michael Jackson, II, 7. They have been staying with Katherine and her husband Joe Jackson at the family compound in Encino, Calif., since Jackson's death on Thursday.
In a press conference in Los Angeles today, Joe Jackson talked about whether the kids would go with Grace Rwaramba, Jackson's former longtime nanny, or Debbie Rowe, the biological mother of two of the children.
"This is where they belong ... we love those kids ... we're going to take care of them," Joe Jackson said.
Asked about Rowe, Jackson responded: "Debbie Rowe has nothing to do with what we're doing."
According to court documents, Rowe has had no relationship with the children.
Joe Jackson called Rwaramba, who was fired by Michael Jackson in December, "a good friend of the family and the kids." He said the family is looking into what role she can have in the kids' lives.
Joe Jackson also addressed other questions surrounding his son's death, such as when the funeral would be.
"We're not ready for that," he told the press. "We don't have the time frame for that. ... We want to see how the second autopsy comes out."
Katherine Jackson also filed a petition in Los Angeles Superior Court today asking to be appointed guardian of the children. A hearing on the case has been scheduled for August 3. The petition cites as the reason why she should be guardian: "Minor children are currently residing with paternal grandmother. They have a long established relationship with paternal grandmother and are comfortable in her care."
The petition also states that the children have "no relationship with their biological mother." And that it is "not known" whether the mother agrees that Katherine Jackson should be guardian. As for the mother of Prince Michael II, known as Blanket, a box is checked for "none."
In another petition filed today by Katherine Jackson's attorneys, she asks for guardianship of person and estate of the three children. According to The Associated Press, she is seeking to control her son's estate in order to protect his legacy.
In her first petition for guardianship, she lists the value of Michael Jackson's estate as "unknown."
The legal filings are a possible pre-emptive strike coming from the singer's parents, who hired a lawyer over the weekend and have pressed for a second autopsy of their son.
Londell McMilan, the Jacksons' attorney, vowed on the "Today" show that the family would go to court to protect Katherine Jackson's rights to custody.
"I don't think there will be anybody who thinks that there is someone better," he told co-host Matt Lauer. "She is a very loving host of other grandchildren."
Jackson biographer Stacy Brown believes Jackson would approve of his mother caring for the kids. "I think there were only two people who would be on Michael's wish list, his mother and Grace," Brown told ABCNews.com.
Grace Rwaramba, 42, has worked for Jackson for nearly two decades, starting as an office assistant who handled insurance for his employees.
Over time, observers say Rwaramba had taken an increasingly central role in lives of Jackson and his children. Jackson and Rwaramba were even rumored to be considering marriage in 2006. In 2008 she testified in Jackson's defense during a breach-of-contract trial brought against the singer by a Middle Eastern sheik.
In an interview over the weekend with The Times of London, Rwaramba said she routinely had to pump out Jackson's stomach after he ingested too many drugs. The paper noted that Rwaramba and Jackson had a falling out.
"I had to pump his stomach many times. He always mixed so much of it," Rwaramba said, referring to drugs. "There was one period that it was so bad that I didn't let the children see him. ... He always ate too little and mixed too much."
Brown said he found the quotes puzzling. "Katherine and Jermaine [Jackson] have told me in the past that Grace was keeping him drugged up because she wanted to control him."
According to Rwaramba, Katherine Jackson told her, "Grace, the children are crying. They are asking about you. ... Where are you? Come. I will pick you up from the airport."
Mark Lester, the children's godfather, has said he would be willing to adopt the children but doubted the family would let him.
"If called to do so, of course I would. Michael has a large family. I'm sure the children will be well looked after. ... This is early days here. I extend my arms out to them, but they're American kids and I'm sure the family network will have put something in place," said Lester, who is British.
"The kids were everything to Michael. They were his whole life," Lester added.
Michael Jackson's Kids Have Faced Questions
Who will get guardianship of the kids is the latest in a series of questions that have surrounded Jackson's children -- regarding their conception, paternity and the way in which their father has raised them, since his first son's birth in 1997.
That son is Prince Michael Jr., 12, who along with daughter Paris Katherine, 11, were born to Debbie Rowe, a nurse in the office of Jackson's dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein. In February 2008, Rowe told British newspaper the Daily Mail that she had been artificially inseminated but would not give details concerning whether the sperm used belonged to Jackson or another man.
In photographs, the children appear to have distinctly white skin.
The couple was briefly married following Prince's conception, but divorced six months after Paris' birth. Rowe gave Jackson custody of the children, but sued him in 2006 for breach of contract in an attempt to regain custody. The pair settled out of court for undisclosed terms and Jackson retained custody.
According to Brown, the Jackson family believes Rowe will again try to gain custody of her children. Other sources say she would like to be a part of the kids' lives and may go to court if it comes to that.
Rowe's lawyer, Iris Finsilver, would not comment on Friday on whether Jackson's ex-wife would try to get custody of the children after Jackson's death, saying only: "Debbie is absolutely inconsolable."
But another attorney for Rowe, Marta Almli, said in a statement to the press on Saturday: "Ms. Rowe's only thoughts at this time have been regarding the devastating loss Michael's family has suffered. Ms. Rowe requests that Michael's family, and particularly the children, be spared such harmful, sensationalist speculation and that they be able to say goodbye to their loved one in peace."
In 2001, Jackson had a third child, a son named Prince Michael II, better known as Blanket, who was carried by a surrogate mother whose name has not be released.
Jackson later admitted making a "terrible mistake" when he dangled his infant son over a hotel balcony in Berlin as he greeted screaming fans. A year after, following a stunning admission in a television interview that Jackson invited an unrelated adolescent boy to share his bed and offered him wine -- which he called "Jesus juice" -- the pop star was accused of molesting the child.
In between the interview and the 2005 molestation trial, California state child welfare officials interviewed Jackson's children and Rwaramba, the nanny originally from Rwanda.
Jackson was acquitted of the charges in the trial. No further molestation charges were brought against him and he retained custody of his children.
During the investigation, Jackson's parents Joe and Katherine told ABC's Barbara Walters that they were concerned officials would attempt to take away the children. They offered to adopt the children, should the singer lose custody of them.
Will Michael's Parents Adopt his Kids?
According to Brown, Jackson said he wanted Grace Rwaramba to have custody.
"Michael's wishes were known. He wants Grace to have the kids. They love her," Brown said.
"If the kids had the choice," Brown said, "I think they'd pick Grace."
Before his death, Jackson was in regular contact with his mother but had a notoriously contentious relationship with his father.
Following his acquittal in the molestation trial, Jackson, Rwaramba and the children moved to Bahrain and then later to Ireland.
According to a 2006 profile in the Daily Mail, Rwaramba had become Jackson's closest confidant and gate-keeper, screening his phone calls and setting up meetings.