Katherine Jackson 'devastated' grandchildren 'taken away from me'
The mother of Michael Jackson said she is stunned that a judge temporarily gave custody of the King of Pop's children to another family member.
"I am devastated that while I've been away, my grandchildren have been taken away from me," she told ABC News in an interview.
Some family members accused others of kidnapping the 82-year-old matriarch, in a bid to enlist her in a fight over Michael Jackson's fortune.
The tumult boiled over Wednesday when a Los Angeles judge stripped Katherine Jackson of custody of the late pop icon's three children. Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff transferred guardianship temporarily to a cousin after hearing allegations that Katherine Jackson was being "held against her will" at an Arizona spa and had sounded "strange" in the one phone call she made to relatives since leaving L.A. on July 15.
"I've never heard my grandmother talk like that," the cousin, Tito Joe "T.J." Jackson, told the judge about the early morning phone call Wednesday. "She wasn't sharp. Some words seemed a little slurred."
An attorney for Katherine Jackson, Sandra Ribera, told the judge that after staying with Michael Jackson's children this week in the Calabasas home where they live with their grandmother, "I have reason to believe she is being held or has been held against her will."
In naming T.J. Jackson temporary guardian, Beckloff said he was responding to "the intentional acts of third parties" rather than any misconduct by Katherine Jackson. He said that the law required T.J. Jackson, 34 — son of Michael's brother Tito — to file paperwork seeking permanent custody but that Katherine Jackson could be reinstated if she returned.
The relatives involved in arranging her out-of-state trip — her sons Randy and Jermaine and daughters Janet and Rebbie — were not in court. In television interviews, Randy Jackson has said his mother left town "under doctor's orders" to rest and relax.
The fight between family factions became public over the weekend when relatives in Calabasas filed a missing person's report. Sheriff's deputies later closed the case after speaking with Katherine Jackson in Arizona, where she was staying with Rebbie.
That finding didn't dissuade 14-year-old Paris Jackson from taking to Twitter to declare her grandmother missing.
"9 days and counting," she wrote. "So help me god i will make whoever did this pay."
Then on Monday, deputies were called to break up a fight at the Calabasas residence between family members, and a video shot from inside the home subsequently surfaced online showing Janet Jackson swiping at a cellphone held by Paris.
-- Harriet Ryan and Andrew Blankstein