Still no final resting place for Michael Jackson
Tuesday 11 August 2009
He spent the last few years of his life on a globe-trotting odyssey, and now in death Michael Jackson still seems unable to find a permanent home.
In the certificate recording Jackson's June 25 death, the entertainer's body is listed as being at Los Angeles' Forest Lawn Memorial Park, but that location is listed as temporary. Nearly two months after his demise, no amended death certificate has been filed with Los Angeles County.
With the announcement yesterday that the county coroner's office had completed its autopsy of Jackson, coupled with reports that investigators had returned a portion of Jackson's brain to his family, rumors of where his final resting place might be swirled across the Internet. But the people who know exactly where he is and where he might be going aren't saying.
Forest Lawn spokesman Bill Martin declined to say if Jackson's body would be laid to rest permanently at the cemetery or if it is still there, citing the family's request for privacy. A family spokesman Jesse Derris, said the family had no statement to make.
In an interview broadcast Friday with CNN's Larry King, Jackson's older brother Jermaine said he would like to see his sibling laid to rest at Neverland Ranch, the bucolic estate in central California's wine country that the entertainer bought in 1988 and turned into his personal Peter Pan-like wonderland. But Jermaine Jackson said it would be up to his mother, Katherine, to make the final decision.
Although it's rare for someone's remains not to be promptly buried or entombed, it's not unheard of. The body of one of Jackson's musical heroes, James Brown, remained unburied for two months after his 2006 death while people fought over control of his estate.
Elvis Presley, whose daughter was once married to Jackson, was entombed at a Memphis, Tenn., cemetery for nearly two months after his death in August 1977, then moved to a garden at his Graceland mansion. The Forest Hill cemetery says on its website the temporary arrangement was made while Graceland was being prepared for Presley's burial.
For Jackson to be buried on private property like Neverland his family would have to get approval from both state and local authorities. Before local officials would sign off they likely would want to schedule public hearings, said Nicole Koon, deputy communications director for Santa Barbara County.
"Certainly there would be a review process that would be triggered when and if that permit request comes through to the county," she said, adding no such request had been made.
During the nearly 20 years he lived at Neverland, Jackson turned its rolling hills and verdant pastures into a children's paradise, complete with bumper car rides, a Ferris wheel, a train modeled after the one at Disneyland and a zoo filled with tigers, elephants, orangutans and a giraffe.
He regularly opened the estate to children by the hundreds, many of them from local schools, until he was arrested in 2004 and charged with molesting a 13-year-old boy.
After being acquitted in 2005, Jackson abandoned Neverland, taking his three children with him on an international journey, living for a time in Bahrain and then Las Vegas. More recently he shuttled to London, where he was to launch a 50-show run of concerts in July that were to mark his return to the public eye and, he hoped, restore his image as the King of Pop.
He was living in a rented mansion in Los Angeles and rehearsing for the shows when he died at age 50.
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