La Toya Jackson: Life After Michael's Death

La Toya tells Walters Paris laid stones on Michael's chest in final goodbye.

September 09, 2009, 5:04 PM

Sept. 11, 2009— -- In an emotional interview with Barbara Walters, La Toya Jackson, the 53-year-old sister of pop icon Michael Jackson, describes how she was overcome with grief when she heard the tragic news of her brother's death June 25.

"I got so weak, I couldn't drive. And ... I was asking anybody on the streets, 'Please, can you drive me to the hospital, please?'" she told Walters. "Everything left my body. I was so weak, I couldn't accelerate."

La Toya, who was the first one to appear at her brother's bedside the day he died, said that despite overwhelming grief, she had to pull herself together for the well-being of Michael's three children.

"I went into the room ... and there is my mother sitting down. And there are the kids, all three of them, on her ... sitting on her lap, just crying as loud as they could. ... They were just crying uncontrollably," she said. "And there I was screaming and crying when I realized it was actually true. ... And I caught myself and said, 'You have to be strong for the kids. Stop it. Get a grip to yourself,' and that's what I did."

Watch Barbara Walters's exclusive interview with La Toya on "20/20" TONIGHT at 10 p.m. ET

"And trying to comfort them," La Toya remembers, "my mother was so strong ... I was very proud of her, the way she handled herself, her conduct was great."

The family's grief was captured on camera during the public memorial service for the pop superstar, as Michael's 12-year-old daughter, Paris, delivered tearful remarks in which she declared her undying love for her father. La Toya told Walters that during the service, Paris "wanted so badly to say something to her father."

"I think it was ... Stevie Wonder that was on. And she said, 'Auntie La Toya, can I go on now and say something to daddy?' And I started thinking, I said, 'You know what, Paris? At the end we're all going to say goodbye and go on stage and thank the audience and say goodbye.' I said, 'I think that would be a great opportunity for you to go then.' And she said, 'OK, I'll do it then.'"

The night before the memorial, there was also a very private farewell between the father and daughter, when Paris visited Michael's open casket and laid stones on his chest, La Toya said.

"Paris did visit the casket. And she put two stones on his chest. ... They were beautiful. They looked like emeralds," La Toya said. "And it was so sweet and so kind and so delicate and so warm. And I just ... I just loved that."

La Toya and Michael: Through the Years

From their earliest years, Michael and La Toya shared a special bond within their strict Jehovah's Witness family. When Michael moved to New York in 1977 to film "The Wiz," La Toya accompanied him. It was the first time either of them had lived away from home. Michael not only produced a song for La Toya's first solo album, he sang the backup vocals. She was there for many of his shining moments, including the 1984 Grammys.

But in her early 30s, La Toya veered away from Michael into treacherous waters. She married her manager Jack Gordon, a convicted felon who was 20 years her senior and she says took control of her life.

"He would lock me in the house no matter what. ... This is a guy who wanted control. He had instilled a great amount of fear in me. And I didn't know what to do," she recalled. "He abused me. And he got away with it because I was too terrified."

La Toya says Gordon took everything -- including her passport and access to her bank account -- and beat her regularly. La Toya also claims he forced her to pose for Playboy and appear in several pornographic videos.

"I didn't know any better. I was too afraid. Because he promised if I did anything out of the ordinary ... that he would kill me," La Toya told Walters. "And he took it a step further. He said, 'And if you don't believe me, I will do it to your brother as well.' And I believed him. I had no reason not to."

Estranged from her family, La Toya declared Michael guilty during his 1993 child molestation case -- something that she said Gordon forced her to do.

"That was the worst day of my life. The worst day of my entire life ... I just ... I just ... I just couldn't believe it," she said. "[Gordon] has this hatred toward my brother that I could never explain to you, why it was."

La Toya recanted her statement to Walters, saying that her brother was not a pedophile and never had any improper relationship with a child.

After nine years, La Toya said she found the courage to leave Gordon and reunite with her brothers and sisters.

"What I went through with Jack Gordon, of him controlling me, controlling my entire life, being extremely abusive in any way that you could possibly imagine to me, I knew that Michael was going through the same thing that I was going through," she said. "I knew the position Michael was in."

La Toya: Conspiracy Behind Michael's Death

La Toya told Walters that the people surrounding Michael were harmful, preyed upon him, and ultimately were responsible for his murder.

"I knew Michael was surrounded by people that positioned themselves in his life, positioned themselves to control and take advantage of him. And that's what bothered me more than anything else because I knew something terrible would happen at the end," she told Walters. "Not to mention the fact that Michael constantly told me, 'La Toya ... if I die ... they're going to murder me, they're going to kill me.'"

La Toya said from the beginning, she has known that her brother was murdered by those around him who would benefit financially from his death.

"I don't know exactly who. I think there are more players involved than we know. This is just my opinion. This is what I feel. I know what Michael was afraid of ... he was afraid of his life. He would say, 'I'm afraid of my life. I'm afraid they're going to assassinate me. I'm afraid they're going to kill me.'"

With his highly anticipated 50-concert tour at London's O2 Arena approaching, La Toya said that Michael had been pushed to the edge and forced into an exhaustive schedule against his will.

"Michael wanted to do 10 shows ... these people came into his life ... they came and said, 'No, you have to do more. You have to do this.' They booked them without Michael even knowing," she said. "Michael couldn't do those many shows ... a 22-year-old probably couldn't do those many shows, the way they have them scheduled back to back. It's impossible."

The tour organizers have said that Michael agreed to the number of shows in advance.

La Toya declined to specifically name who among Michael's "shadowy entourage" she believes was involved in her brother's death.

"I think within time it just might come out, and people will know. I think time will reveal itself, I really do," she told Walters.

According to the autopsy report, Michael died of a fatal combination of drugs, including the powerful anesthetic propofol. Michael Jackson's personal physician, Dr. Conrad Murray, has admitted to administering propofol, but has denied giving Michael anything that "should have killed him."

The Los Angeles County Coroner's office ruled the manner of death a homicide, and police are investigating the circumstances surrounding his death. Murray, as well as other doctors known to have prescribed narcotics to Michael, have been questioned.

"I blame any and everybody who was instrumental in Michael's life providing him with drugs because it was wrong. It was terribly wrong," said La Toya. "They're doctors! This is going against their license, Barbara. You don't do things like that."

La Toya says that her family -- especially her father Joe Jackson -- tried multiple times to intervene to stop Michael's drug addiction, but was interceded by his entourage.

"We tried many, many times to intervene. And we were kept away," she told Walters. "My father tried more than anybody else, he would go almost every week and try to intervene. However, when you would try to intervene and go over, none of his people would let you in. None of them would let you through. It was very difficult."

Jackson Children: Home-Schooled, No TV

The Jackson family is shielding Michael's three children -- 13-year-old Prince Michael I, 12-year-old Paris and 7-year-old Prince Michael II, also known as "Blanket" -- who spent the majority of their childhood hidden behind a variety of masks, from the circumstances surrounding their father's death.

La Toya said that the children are seeing a grief counselor, but overall know "very little" about what happened.

"They're really not allowed to watch television. Of course, the Disney Channel is fine. And that's the way their father had it. Everything is monitored when it comes to that. Because people are so cruel."

From the day they were born, the identity of their biological father has been questioned. When asked by Walters about accusations that Michael did not use his own sperm because he wanted sperm to come from someone white, so that his own children would be white and not suffer as he had, La Toya had no response.

"I can't answer that," she said, "I have never ever asked him that."

Michael Jackson's Final Resting Place

After his death, some family members reportedly sought permission for Michael to be buried at the Neverland Ranch, his former estate where the late King of Pop vowed never to return after his 1995 molestation trial.

"Michael said never, never, never at Neverland," La Toya said. "I wanted him buried anywhere but Neverland. When the children were speaking and they said, 'Daddy hated Neverland. He just hated it. He never wants to go back there.' My mother said, 'never will I put him there.'"

While he was later acquitted of child molestation charges, Neverland never held the same joy for Michael, who was finally laid to rest in a private ceremony at the iconic Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, Calif., last week.

"We wanted it very, very private. We strictly just wanted just really close family. And then just a few friends. It was ... very difficult to do because my mother didn't really want to attend whatsoever," La Toya said. "It's the final call for her, in her eyes, and she had to, of course, because the children said, 'Grandma, please, come with us,' and she said, 'Okay, dear sweets, of course, I'll come."

With her brother's death, La Toya says the disjointed Jackson family is now more unified.

"I think when a situation like this happens, it brings a family closer," she said.

La Toya asked ABC News to make it known that she was not paid for this interview.

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