Joe Jackson: "I'm suspecting foul play"

Report: independent autopsy complete
June 29, 2009 6:29:31 AM PDT
Michael Jackson's father, Joe Jackson, spoke out Sunday about the events surrounding his son's death.

Joe Jackson made his first public appearance since his son passed away, while simultaneously searching for answers and being weighed down by grief.

The pop singer's father made an appearance on behalf of the family at the BET Awards show Sunday night. He said although he was mourning his son's death, he was proud of Michael's ground-breaking career.

"I wish the world had recognized him when he was living," Joe Jackson said.

Meanwhile, Dr. Conrad Murray, who was with Jackson the day he died, met with investigators Saturday. He told them Jackson was already unconscious when he arrived and that he did not inject the singer with any painkillers.

He also said he left his car at Jackson's house because he went to the hospital with Jackson in the ambulance.

"We've been assured a hundred percent that Dr. Murray is in no way shape or form a suspect in the death of Mr. Jackson, but he is a witness," said Dr. Conrad Murray's attorney Matt Alford.

Michael Jackson's family, including his children, gathered at his rented California home Sunday to discuss funeral arrangements.

Joe Jackson told ABC7 that he remained suspicious of the events surrounding his son's death Thursday.

"Michael was dead before he left the house. I'm suspecting foul play somewhere. He was waving to everybody and telling them he loves them and all the fans at the gate, a few minutes after Michael was out there, he was dead," Joe Jackson said.

Chicago-based Reverend Jesse Jackson has also said publicly that he thinks more questions about Michael Jackson's death need to be answered. Jackson says he and Michael's family are questioning the role of the personal cardiologist Dr. Conrad Murray, who was with him at the time and had possibly given him a pain killer shot before Jackson died.

"How long was he unconscious? Was he given a shot of Demerol? Why did the doctor not communicate to his parents or the coroner? These questions deserve answers," said Rev. Jesse Jackson.

Jesse Jackson and Michael's family said they want an independent autopsy. The L.A. Times on Sunday was reporting that second autopsy had been completed. The Los Angeles County coroner's office performed one Friday saying there were no signs of foul play but that further tests could take another month.

"It's not a clear cause of death and the bizarre behavior of the doctor. Michael had been training and dancing and other dancers at the age of 25 he was out dancing them he passed a physical and from that to a massive cardiac arrest?" said Rev. Jackson.

Jackson's family members gathered in their Encino compound over the weekend debating if the superstar's funeral should be public or private. They are also trying to figure out the future of Jackson's three children.

Doctor Conrad Murray is cooperating in the investigation and is not a criminal suspect but he has a lawyer and is reportedly talking with Los Angeles police detectives.

Despite the unanswered questions, Joe Jackson says his son's musical legacy is secure.

"The Jackson name is known everywhere there's dirt," he said. "You know, we made it like that. I did a lot of hard work to build the Jacksons, you know, to get them this far."

Joe Jackson also says the family appreciates the expressions of love for Michael's music coming from every corner of the globe.

"Michael's fans, not just in Chicago and Gary, but all over the world, wherever this news goes?thank them for thinking of us and praising us and giving their condolences to us," said Joe Jackson.

As the family continues to work on funeral arrangements, Joe Jackson said he doubts the family will hold a public memorial in their hometown of Gary, Indiana. He says it will probably take place in California.

Chicago area fans pay tribute to the 'King of Pop'

On Chicago's South Side, hundreds of people gathered to pay tribute to Michael Jackson, and one of the ways they did that was by singing his songs.

Jackson was praised as a musician and as a man at Sweet Holy Spirit church. The tributes included attempts by parishioners to imitate Jackson's famous moon walk, and they lit candles to his memory.

Michael Jackson was remembered as an artist who had a huge affect on the world of music.

"There's not many people in the world who haven't heard of Michael Jackson. He influenced many artists all over the world from gospel to R and B to pop to country," said gospel musician Ricky Dillard.

The crowd also shared favorite memories of the singer.

Saturday night, there also was a celebration of the Motown sound that turned into a Jackson tribute on Chicago's South Side .

Originally, it was an event to showcase the 50th anniversary of Motown and black music month on the city's south side. However, it became a celebration and memorial to the moon-walking man who helped make Motown what it is today. More than a thousand fans paid tribute to Michael Jackson.

Earlier on Saturday, other fans shared their memories and honored the king of pop near Jackson's rented la home and his childhood home in Gary, Indiana where the candles and mementos are expanding beyond the front door now.

"I don't feel like he should have been given that medication he should have known better, I know better," said Aaron Weston.

Jackson's body returned to family

Most of Michael Jackson's family members have gathered in their Encino compound, where they are contemplating funeral arrangements and caring for his three children. They are feeling confused, upset and angry by the lack of information about those who were around the pop superstar in his final days, a person close to the family told The Associated Press.

Jackson's family wants to know more specifics about what role AEG, the concert promoter that was staging his 50-date concert series at London's 02 Arena, was playing in his life, said the person, who requested anonymity because of the delicate nature of the situation. They also want to know more about the role of his advisers and representatives, who they believe were put in place by the promoter.

Jackson never communicated to his family who he had in place to handle his business affairs, the person said, adding that they were told by the singer's phalanx of advisers that the singer likely had a will, but it may be many years old. The family is distrustful of what they are being told -- but they are determined to find out more, the person said.

"There are decisions going down without the family being in the loop; it's becoming an issue," the person said.

Randy Phillips, AEG Live president and chief executive, said earlier Friday that it was Jackson who insisted that Dr. Conrad Murray, a financially troubled cardiologist who was with the entertainer when he collapsed Thursday, be put on the tour payroll.

"As a company, we would have preferred not having a physician on staff full-time because it would have been cheaper without the hotels and travel, but Michael was insistent that he be hired," Phillips said. "Michael said he had a rapport with him."

Jackson collapsed Thursday at his rented home in Los Angeles. Police seized Murray's car in search of evidence, but have insisted that the doctor has been cooperative and do not consider him a criminal suspect.

Records reveal years of financial troubles for Murray, who practices medicine in California, Nevada and Texas; his Nevada medical practice, Global Cardiovascular Associates, was slapped with more than $400,000 in court judgments, and he faces at least two other pending cases and several tax liens.

The person close to the family said that while there were reports that the singer was distant from his family, Jackson spoke with his mother Katherine quite regularly and his father, Joe, had seen his son shortly before his death. His other eight siblings, including fellow superstar Janet, may not have talked to him recently but were not estranged.

Much of the family was holed up Friday inside the Jackson family's Encino compound, including his three children, according to the person, who described them as doing looking "pretty good." "I don't think it's fully set in yet," the person said.

No family members were present in the mansion when Jackson died Thursday, the person close to the family said. In the 911 call released by fire officials Friday, an unidentified caller tells a dispatcher that Jackson's doctor is performing CPR.

Asked by the dispatcher whether anyone saw what happened, the caller answers: "No, just the doctor, sir. The doctor has been the only one there."

Coroner's officials said they released Jackson's body to his family late Friday night. The family is still trying to determine what kind of memorial to have for Jackson and when, and are debating between the idea of having a private ceremony or a grand celebration open to the public, the person close to the family said.

Jackson appeared to have suffered a heart attack, another person with knowledge of the situation who was not authorized to speak publicly and requested anonymity told the AP on Friday. A heart attack is a blocking of the arteries that deprives the heart of adequate blood and can cause cardiac arrest.

Jackson's brother Jermaine said Thursday that it was believed the pop singer went into cardiac arrest, an interruption of the normal heartbeat that can be caused by factors other than heart attack.

The Los Angeles County coroner's office, which completed its autopsy Friday, said there were no signs of foul play or trauma, but determining the cause of death will require further tests that will take six to eight weeks.

Phillips said AEG Live held multiple insurance policies covering cancellation of the shows, and that some time in February Jackson submitted to several hours of physicals that the insurance underwriter insisted upon, and that Jackson passed them all.

"We had pretty good coverage, but a lot of it is going to depend on the toxicology results," he said. "We need to know what the cause of death was."

Celebrities and fans mourn the death of Michael Jackson

"I am so very sad and confused with every emotion possible. I am heartbroken for his children who I know were everything to him and for his family. This is such a massive loss on so many levels, words fail me." -- Lisa Marie Presley, former wife of Michael Jackson and daughter of Elvis Presley.

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"I must confess I am not surprised by today's tragic news. Michael has been on an impossibly difficult and often self-destructive journey for years. His talent was unquestionable but so too was his discomfort with the norms of the world. A human simply cannot withstand this level of prolonged stress." -- Michael Levine, a publicist who represented Jackson when the singer was accused of molesting a child in 1993.

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"I knew Michael as a child and watched him grow over the years. Of all the thousands of entertainers I have worked with, Michael was THE most outstanding. Many have tried and will try to copy him, but his talent will never be matched." -- Dick Clark, host of the old "American Bandstand."

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"Michael Jackson was my generation's most iconic cultural hero. Courageous, unique and incredibly talented. He'll be missed greatly." -- Russell Simmons, hip-hop entrepreneur and founder of Def-Jam Records.

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"We have lost an icon in our industry and my heartfelt condolences go out to his family and children in this hour of sorrow that they are now going through. He will live on in my memory and most definitely through the music he shared with so many." -- Dionne Warwick, singer and Jackson's friend.

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"Michael was a pop phenomenon who never stopped pushing the envelope of creativity. Though there were serious questions about his personal life, Michael was undoubtedly a great entertainer and his popularity spanned generations and the globe." -- California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger.

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"He was a true musical icon whose identifiable voice, innovative dance moves, stunning musical versatility, and sheer star power carried him from childhood to worldwide acclaim. A 13-time Grammy recipient, Michael's career transcends musical and cultural genres and his contributions will always keep him in our hearts and memories." -- Neil Portnow, National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president.

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"Michael Jackson was my musical God. He made me believe that all things are possible, and through real and positive music. He can live forever! I love Michael Jackson. God Bless him." -- Wyclef Jean, rapper and former member of the Fugees.

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"Michael Jackson was born in Gary, Indiana, and our hearts are heavy, heavy here. Michael Jackson was the world's greatest entertainer but more than that he was great humanitarian and a great, humble individual. The people of Gary, our hearts are full of tears because of the loss of Michael Jackson." -- Gary, Ind., Mayor Rudy Clay.

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"I can't stop crying over the sad news. I have always admired Michael Jackson. The world has lost one of the greats, but his music will live on forever. My heart goes out to his three children and other members of his family. God bless." -- Madonna, pop star.

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"Peace to the King. ... He was one of my childhood idols. I salute you King of Pop. You made the whole world moonwalk together." -- LL Cool J, rapper-actor.

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"I am very sad. No one will be able to replace him. But I know that the light that he emanated from the stage will live on with all of us who saw him for what he was and always will be -- a great teacher, pure musical inspiration." -- Ricky Martin, pop star.

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"Michael Jackson showed me that you can actually see the beat. He made the music come to life! He made me believe in magic." -- Sean "Diddy" Combs, rapper, record producer and entrepreneur.

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"Michael Jackson will live forever through the thing that he put all of his life energy into: his music. ... Long live Michael Jackson." -- Ne-Yo, R&B singer.

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"Michael's example of musical artistry was rooted in the proud tradition of black American music. His career trajectory -- from the working-class streets of industrial Gary, Ind., during the post-World War II boom, to the heights of the entertainment industry -- is a classic example of black American achievement, and of the American Dream." -- Benjamin Todd Jealous, NAACP president.

(Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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The Associated Press Contributed to these reports

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