Mausoleum for Hollywood royalty awaits its latest guest

When Michael Jackson is buried today, he will join the stars in a resting place fit for the King of Pop

They've certainly taken their time, but Michael Jackson's family will finally complete the process of laying him to rest tonight, when they bury his gold-plated coffin in an elaborate private cemetery next to a galaxy of old Hollywood stars.

Two months after his death, which has now been declared a homicide, the singer is scheduled to be interred at the Forest Lawn Memorial Park in Glendale's Great Mausoleum, a neo-classical building built to mimic the Campo Santo in Genoa.

Only a few close friends and immediate family members have been invited to the ceremony, which – barring an unwelcome intervention from a vast wildfire which is burning in the nearby hills – will take place at sunset.

Like the "public" memorial service held a week after Jackson died, LA police are doing their best to prevent fans from actually attending. Streets around Forest Lawn will be closed to both pedestrians and traffic.

The 290-acre cemetery is already occupied by Humphrey Bogart, Nat King Cole, Walt Disney, and a host of other luminaries from Hollywood's golden era. It is also renowned for its extravagant art collection. Forest Lawn boasts replicas of Michelangelo's greatest sculptures together with an enormous, life-sized stained glass recreation of Leonardo Da Vinci's Last Supper.

The decision to bury Jackson amid this reproduction grandeur represents a missed commercial opportunity by his estate. In the days after his death attempts were made to bury him at his old home, Neverland, which could have then been turned into a lucrative version of Elvis Presley's Graceland.

On the plus side, it may give him at least some chance of actually resting in peace. Unlike most Hollywood cemeteries, Forest Lawn takes a dim view of sightseers, and does not publish maps showing visitors how to find the graves of dead celebrities.

The Grand Mausoleum, where Jackson will be laid to rest, also contains Jean Harlow, W C Fields, Chico Marx, and Red Skelton. Scott Michaels, the owner of Dearly Departed Tours, which escorts tourists to LA death sites, called it the "Holy Grail" for grave-hunters.

"They protect celebrities like the Dead Sea Scrolls there," he told the Los Angeles Times. "It's the most difficult to navigate. The rooms are like mazes, almost like an Escher drawing. There are cameras throughout, and if you're just wandering about, they'll find you and kick you out."

That peace, gained only after two months in a refrigerator at Forest Lawn, will not be matched in the legal system. Wrangling over the circumstances of Jackson's fatal cardiac arrest looks set to continue.

The Los Angeles County Coroner ruled last week that the death was a "homicide" – a catch-all legal term meaning that one or more other people were involved, and a variety of criminal charges may, or may not, be filed against them.

Among those the police are now investigating is Dr Conrad Murray, a $150,000-a-month personal doctor who has admitted giving Jackson powerful doses of at least six powerful prescription drugs in the hours prior to his death.

Dr Murray variously gave his patient Valium, a highly-addictive muscle relaxant called Lorazepam, a sedative called Midazolam, the anaesthetic Lidocaine and Propofol, the hospital-grade drug Jackson called his "magic milk".

The LA coroner believes the Propofol caused his fatal heart attack. According to police notes in unsealed legal documents – originally submitted to a judge to secure a search warrant – detectives are concerned by "inconsistencies" in Dr Murray's evidence.

Despite telling police that he was constantly monitoring Jackson after administering the medication, mobile phone records reveal that Dr Murray was actually on the phone, speaking to three separate callers between 11.18am and 12.05pm.

An ambulance was not called to the property until later. It arrived at 12.22pm. Dr Murray – who suffered from financial problems – accompanied Jackson to the UCLA Medical Centre but later fled, after refusing to sign his death certificate.

"There would appear to be strong evidence of malpractice," Royal Oakes, a legal analyst for several US TV networks, told The Independent. "Other doctors say Dr Murray messed up medically and his timeline is wrong.

"The potential charges are manslaughter, or second degree murder. The former means you kill someone through incompetence. The latter means you are indifferent: you know something is a risk, but you just don't care.

"Given the money he was making from treating Jackson, however, the one person who wanted to keep him on the face of the planet was Dr Conrad Murray. So I'd say a manslaughter charge is the most likely outcome. It carries a two to four year sentence. For second degree murder, he'd be looking at 15-to-life."

Unlike almost every other player in the events surrounding Jackson's death, the Grenada-born Dr Murray has yet to give a media interview. However in a YouTube video posted recently, he thanked supporters and said: "I have done all I could do. I told the truth, and I have faith the truth will prevail."

Charges need not be filed for months, or even years. If and when they are, another potential defendant is Dr Arnold Klein, a Beverly-Hills-based dermatologist who has been identified as a likely source of the prescription for the Propofol. Dr Klein is suspected of procuring the drugs using aliases to cover his tracks, actions that would almost certainly lead to a misconduct trial. If prosecutors believe he knowingly fuelled an addiction, he might even face a manslaughter or second degree murder charge.

Either would be a sensation. Dr Klein is, like most people associated with Jackson's case, a larger-than-life figure, who wears cravats and jewellery. He has recently given a series of colourful TV interviews – inelegantly suggesting, on several occasions, that he may be the biological father of the singer's children. Their fate, like those of the King of Pop's physicians, former home, estate, and even the line-up at a planned tribute concert in Austria, remain unclear. Michael Jackson may be being buried today, but the tangled questions surrounding his legacy are still a long way from being laid to rest.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn