Declaring herself "devastated" at a judge's decision to revoke her guardianship of her son Michael's children, Katherine Jackson returned to Los Angeles yesterday vowing to prove that the latest scandal to envelop her family is based on "a bunch of lies".
The 82-year-old grandmother arrived at her home in the wealthy suburb of Calabasas at breakfast time to a chorus of celebratory tweets from 15-year-old Prince Michael and 14-year-old Paris Jackson, who had previously complained of being unable to reach her. "Grandma's here! #thankyougod" read one.
Hours earlier, Katherine had phoned ABC News. "My grandchildren have been taken away, and I'm coming home to see about that," she said. "There are rumours going around about me that I have been kidnapped and held against my will. I am here today to let everybody know that I am fine."
Katherine, who is reportedly in decent health, had disappeared from the Calabasas property roughly 10 days earlier. Neither the two orphaned teenagers in her care, nor their 10-year-old sibling, Prince Michael II, were told where she was going.
After a missing person report was filed with police on Sunday, it emerged that Katherine was in Arizona with four of Michael's siblings: Jermaine, Janet, Randy and Rebbie. The grandchildren were prevented from reaching her via telephone, fearing she was being held against her will.
On Tuesday, Jermaine, Janet and Randy turned up at the Calabasas property to argue otherwise. Police were called, amid reports of an altercation. The fight stems from a wider rift in the family over Michael Jackson's estate, which is now worth hundreds of millions of dollars. When the singer died in 2009, he left a will saying it should be divided between Katherine, the three grandchildren and a selection of charities. Several of Michael's siblings, who were left nothing, have filed lawsuits disputing the will or claiming that it is a fake. .
Katherine represents an important player in this dispute. And since she receives a monthly allowance of around $40,000 from the estate, she also represents a potential source of income for her children, several of whom are financially strained.
On Wednesday, a Los Angeles judge, Mitchell Beckloff, ruled that Katherine's absence from the Calabasas property made her unfit to be the children's guardian, saying that he was concerned that she was being prevented from fulfilling her duties by an "intentional act from third parties". He said that Trent, a cousin, should temporarily take over the role.
Katherine Jackson later told ABC that the decision was based on "a bunch of lies". She had gone to Arizona on the orders of a doctor, who said she needed a holiday. And she denied that the three children had been abandoned, saying that a personal assistant had been told to keep in touch with them via telephone.