It was a scene of unimaginable heartbreak. Amid the circus that surrounded Michael Jackson, three children sat in a cold anteroom off a neon-lit hospital corridor, waiting anxiously for news of their father.
As Michael Jackson’s manager Frank DiLeo walked down the white linoleum-tiled floor, he knew he had to impart the most devastating news of his life.
Walking into the family waiting room at the UCLA Medical Centre, DiLeo was greeted by the sight of Michael Jackson’s three children – Prince Michael, 12, Paris, 11, and seven-year-old Prince Michael II (affectionately known as Blanket).
As he shook his head, DiLeo said: ‘I’m sorry children, your father has passed away.’
A split second of silence followed before Paris screamed: ‘No, no, Daddy. No, no!’
Last night, DiLeo told how the ‘outpouring of emotion is something I shall live with for the rest of my life’. He said: ‘It was the single most painful moment of my life. I cannot tell you how difficult it was. Those children just fell to pieces. The emotions poured forth. Whatever anyone thought of Michael, he was loved by those children, truly loved. They were – and are – in pieces.’
Today, those three children are in the custody of Katherine in the home in the Los Angeles suburb of Encino that Jackson bought for his mother.
‘Michael’s whole life was a mess except for those kids,’ said another source. ‘He loved them. They didn’t have a 'normal' life but Michael was always there for them. When you talk to them, they are extraordinary people. They are not at all what you’d expect. They are very innocent, quite naive, in fact. They are very good kids. Michael was a good father. He was always with them. They are lost now. They have lost the only father they’ve ever known.’