Mystery over Jackson's final resting place

By AFP

June 18, 2010 Updated Jul 8, 2009 at 10:11 AM EST

After tearful final tributes to Michael Jackson from his children and friends, fans of the King of the Pop faced a new mystery Wednesday over where his final resting place would be.

Jackson's daughter Paris earlier grabbed international attention with her heartbreaking eulogy at her father's Los Angeles memorial.

Standing in front of the pop genius's family and a host of rock stars gathered for the farewell event, 11-year-old daughter Paris unexpectedly addressed the audience: "Ever since I was born, Daddy has been the best father you could ever imagine. And I just wanted to say I love him so much."

The youngster dissolved into tears and was consoled by her aunt Janet Jackson before the memorial ended.

Jackson's final journey -- 12 days after his death in Los Angeles at the age of 50 -- began with a private service at the Forest Lawn cemetery to the Hollywood stars.

The ornate golden casket was then taken amid a media helicopter circus to the 20,000 capacity Staples Center, where it was placed at the front of the stage.

The exact location of Jackson's final resting place remains shrouded in mystery, with the family declining to comment.

Local media reports said the coffin was not going back to the Hollywood Hills mortuary. The uncertainty is likely to fuel speculation that the singer may be buried at his beloved Neverland Ranch northwest of Los Angeles.

The Jackson service on Tuesday began with Motown legend Smokey Robinson reading letters of condolence from those unable to attend, including former South African president Nelson Mandela.

"Michael was a giant and a legend in the music industry. And we mourn with the millions of fans worldwide," Mandela's tribute read.

Motown diva Diana Ross -- named by Jackson in his will as an alternative guardian to his children -- said she had chosen to mourn privately.

"Michael was a personal love of mine, a treasured part of my world, part of the fabric of my life," Ross said.

Jackson's long-time friend Elizabeth Taylor also stayed away.

"I just don't believe that Michael would want me to share my grief with millions of others. How I feel is between us. Not a public event," Taylor said in a message on her Twitter micro-blogging site.

Tributes were punctuated by performances from Mariah Carey, Stevie Wonder and Jennifer Hudson among others, as Jackson's family looked on approvingly.

Jackson's brothers all wore matching suits, dark glasses and a replica of their sibling's signature diamond sequined glove.

One of the biggest ovations came after rousing remarks by Reverend Al Sharpton, who told Jackson's children to disregard the lurid stories that often swirled around the man disparaged by tabloid critics as "Wacko Jacko."

"I want his three children to know -- there weren't nothing strange about your daddy," said the veteran civil rights activist. "It was strange what your daddy had to deal with but he dealt with it."

The event's producer Ken Ehrlich later said the memorial's pacing was designed to mirror the memorial services of black US churches, mixing uplifting music performances, fiery speeches and poignant pauses.

"People had time to think about what they had heard before we went on to the next order of business," Ehrlich told the Los Angeles Times.

The service drew to a close with a performance of Jackson's 1992 clarion call to end global suffering, "Heal the World," before members of the star's family offered individual tributes.

Streets surrounding the Staples Center were sealed off. Thousands of police were deployed to keep ticketless fans away, though no incidents were reported.

A live feed of the service was made available free to television networks, while the event was streamed via social networking websites Facebook and MySpace.

Facebook said around one million people worldwide weighed in online with comments while watching live coverage.

Fans gathered to sing Jackson's greatest hits and watch his videos ahead of the event in cities across the globe such as Tokyo, Hong Kong and Berlin.

Jackson sold more than 750 million albums during a four-decade career that was ultimately tainted by repeated allegations of child abuse, his startling physical transformation and his eccentric behavior.

Local and federal law enforcement agencies continue to probe the circumstances of his death on June 25.

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office has said it will not issue a final cause of death for "several weeks" when the results of exhaustive toxicology tests are known.

Lawyers meanwhile are busy untangling the labyrinth of legal issues after his death. On Monday, a Los Angeles judge replaced Jackson's mother as temporary administrator of his estate with two of the pop icon's business associates, as instructed by a 2002 will.




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