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.

Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
Kenny Ireland, pictured in 2010.
peopleActor, from House of Cards and Benidorm, was 68
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features staging of a playground gun massacre
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
A family sit and enjoy a quiet train journey
voicesForcing us to overhear dull phone conversations is an offensive act, says Simon Kelner
i100This Instagram photo does not prove Russian army is in Ukraine
Morrissey pictured in 2013
sportVan Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
View from the Llanberis Track to the mountain lake Llyn
Du’r Arddu
environmentA large chunk of Mount Snowdon, in north Wales, is up for sale
Life and Style
Martha Stewart wrote an opinion column for Time magazine this week titled “Why I Love My Drone”
lifeLifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot... to take photos of her farm
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
filmReview: Sometimes the immersive experience was so good it blurred the line between fiction and reality
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
Tyred out: should fair weather cyclists have a separate slow lane?
environmentFormer Labour minister demands 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

VB.Net Developer - £40k - Surrey - WANTED ASAP

£35000 - £40000 per annum + competitive: Progressive Recruitment: .Mid Level V...

Digitakl Business Analyst, Slough

£40000 - £45000 per annum + Competitive Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: Dig...

Mechanical Estimator: Nuclear Energy - Sellafield

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Car, Medical, Fuel + More!: Progressive Recruitmen...

Dynamics NAV Techno-Functional Consultant

£50000 - £60000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: An absolutely o...

Day In a Page

Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

In grandfather's footsteps

5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

Martha Stewart has flying robot

The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

A tale of two presidents

George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

The dining car makes a comeback

Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

Gallery rage

How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

Eye on the prize

Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

Women's rugby

Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices