More than two dozen television satellite trucks lined the narrow, two-lane road leading to Neverland Ranch early Wednesday, jostling to reserve space for a public viewing of pop icon Michael Jackson’s body that won’t happen for two more days.
A law enforcement official told CNN that Jackson’s body will be taken to the ranch, north of Santa Barbara, California, on Thursday in preparation for viewing Friday. The family plans a private service Sunday. While the question of what killed Jackson went unanswered pending toxicology results, a claim by a nutritionist who said she worked with Jackson fanned speculation Tuesday. Cherilyn Lee, a registered nurse, told CNN that Jackson suffered from severe insomnia and pleaded for the powerful sedative Diprivan, despite knowing its harmful effects. “I told him this medication is not safe,” Lee said. “He said, ‘I just want to get some sleep. You don’t understand. I just want to be able to be knocked out and go to sleep.’ “I told him — and it is so painful that I actually felt it in my whole spirit — ‘If you take this, you might not wake up.'” CNN could not independently verify whether Lee worked with Jackson. Lee said she had not seen Jackson take the drug.
‘MICHAEL JACKSON: Man in the Mirror’ (Replay)
Saturday and Sunday night, CNN’s Don Lemon takes an in-depth look at Michael Jackson’s life and legacy. His childhood, his music, his finances, his influence. Don’t miss this CNN Presents special.
This weekend at 8 p.m. ET.
see full schedule »
When asked about Lee’s account, Jackson family attorney Londell McMillan said: “I wonder why someone would make a comment about drugs when they haven’t seen him take the drug or anyone who administered it.” Lee’s claims were among several developments Tuesday as fans across the globe continued to mourn Jackson, five days after 50-year-old singer went into cardiac arrest. A will from Jackson written in 2002 surfaced, but it may be one of several, McMillan said. Until now, the Jackson family has said it had not seen one. Jackson’s hometown of Gary, Indiana, angled to have its favorite son buried there, and planned a massive memorial service at a local ballpark for July 10. And in New York, thousands lined the streets, standing eight to 10 abreast for 10 blocks in the heat, outside Harlem’s Apollo Theater, the hall that helped launch Jackson’s career. “We left our house at 4 o’clock in the morning and got here at 9, and we were lucky to get here,” said Angela Staples, who came to New York from Pennsylvania with her daughter, Jasmine. Distressing phone call Four days before the singer’s death, Lee said she received a call from a Jackson staff member. The staffer said the singer felt that one side of his body was cold, the other hot.
Jackson public viewing set for Friday
Nutritionist: Jackson begged for sedatives
Jackson family: ‘His legacy will live forever’
In Depth: Michael Jackson
“I could hear Mr. Jackson saying in the background, ‘Please have her come see me now. Can she come now'” she said. Lee said she met Jackson in January, when he called on her to treat his children’s colds. According to her Web site, she is a proponent of holistic alternative medicine. During the phone call, which happened while Lee was in Florida, she said, she told Jackson’s staffers to take him to a hospital. “I was really afraid, because of the symptoms they were telling me,” she said. “It could have meant something going on in the nervous system or something cardiovascular.” Lee could not say why Jackson would call on her, when the last time she saw him was three months ago. Their relationship ended because Jackson did not pay her, she said. He, however, wanted her to accompany him during a series of concerts scheduled this summer in London, England, she said. “The only thing I can think of is he recalled the symptoms I was telling him,” she said. But, she added, she didn’t know of any doctors who would have given him Diprivan. “I asked him, ‘What doctor gave you this drug'” she said, when the singer initially brought up the medicine. “He told me, ‘Oh, it was a long time ago.”” Dr. Rakesh Marwah of the anesthesiology department at the Stanford University School of Medicine said the drug, known by its generic name, Propofol, can lead to cardiac arrest — when the heart abruptly stops, as happened in Jackson’s case. “Propofol slows down the heart rate and slows down the respiratory rate and slows down the vital functions of the body,” Marwah said. Fans heartened by news of viewing For many of Jackson’s fans, the cause of his death bore less significance than remembering his life. On Wednesday, the top nine positions on Billboard magazine’s Top Pop Catalog Albums chart housed Jackson-related titles. The lone non-Jackson-related holdout was a reissue of the “Woodstock” movie soundtrack. Many fans said they were heartened to learn of the public viewing Friday. “I came all the way here (to be near where Jackson lived), but to find this out — that I can make a pilgrimage to his home to say goodbye to him — that is beyond my wildest dreams,” said Donna Lewis, a self-proclaimed “superfan” who drove to Los Angeles Sunday from San Francisco to mourn with fellow Jackson lovers. Planning is under way for a 30-car motorcade carrying Jackson’s remains to leave the Los Angeles area at 10 a.m. Thursday for Santa Barbara County, a law enforcement official said. Thousands of other fans waited patiently outside New York’s Apollo Theater on Tuesday to be let in, 600 at a time, to lay flowers and other mementos at the foot of the theater stage. Jackson, at 9, won a 1967 Apollo amateur night showcase with his brothers, as the Jackson 5. Also Tuesday, Mayor Rudy Clay of Gary, Indiana, told a Chicago radio station that he has been in contact with the Jackson family to send the singer’s body there for burial. A burial site for the singer could be near a proposed Jackson family museum and a performing arts center, said the mayor’s spokeswoman, Lalosa Burns. “The mayor had spoken with a contact of the Jackson family and expressed our interest in having that to be a part of the history of this great family,” Burns said. “We have not received confirmation on that.” Clay told WGN that he expects Jackson’s body will, at the least, be taken to Gary for a memorial service on July 10 at U.S. Steel Works ballpark in Gary. Jackson’s father, Joe, has said Neverland Ranch has been ruled out as a burial site, but the family has given no public indication on where the singer’s final resting place may be. Michael Jackson purchased Neverland Ranch — named for the fictional world in J.M. Barrie’s “Peter Pan” — in 1987 and filled it with animals and amusement rides. Tom Barrack Jr., the billionaire who engineered Jackson’s financial rescue last year and gained control of the ranch through his company, said the property’s future will be discussed later. The focus now, he said, is to ensure that grieving fans who gather there — with or without permission — are treated properly. “The consideration of the future of the Neverland property will be addressed in due time through normal process and with appropriate deliberation,” Barrack said in a statement. “Let’s adopt an attitude of hospitality, warmth and tolerance and allow the world to pay their respects to this global icon by conducting ourselves with grace and elegance.” Will’s validity to be tested As for the will, Jackson family lawyer McMillan acknowledged Tuesday that others may exist. “We need a certain amount of time to look at that,” McMillan said. “I don’t personally know, but it’s possible.” The 2002 will surfaced Monday after a Los Angeles judge gave the singer’s mother, Katherine Jackson, temporary control of her son’s “tangible personal property.” The pop icon’s three children — ages 7, 11 and 12 — were also placed under the temporary guardianship of Katherine Jackson. McMillan said he has seen the will but would not disclose its details. “There is a process called ‘probating the will’ that will validate any will in due course,” he said.
Probate is the legal process to prove whether a will is authentic and valid. The process is used to pass on items in the will from the deceased to beneficiaries. Without a legal will, the division of Jackson’s estate would be decided in court.