July 31, 2009— -- The kid says he's Michael's son -- and now, so does the Jackson family patriarch, Joe Jackson.
In an interview with TV One, Joe Jackson asserts Omer Bhatti, a 25-year-old dancer and aspiring rapper from Oslo, Norway who once traveled the world with Michael Jackson, lived at the singer's Neverland ranch and was referred to by the Jackson family as "Michael J," is the pop icon's estranged fourth child.
Asked if he knew Bhatti was Jackson's son, Joe Jackson said, "Yes, I knew he had another son, yes I did."
He added: "He looks like a Jackson, he can dance like a Jackson. This boy is fantastic dancer -- matter of fact, he teaches dance."
Bhatti came under renewed scrutiny earlier this month, when the British newspaper The Sun reported Bhatti is seeking a DNA test to find out if he's really Jackson's child.
Bhatti has features similar to Jackson and shares an uncanny resemblance to his youngest son Prince II, known as Blanket.
Not everyone connected to the family is as certain as Joe Jackson that Bhatti is the pop icon's flesh and blood. But one thing is for sure: Bhatti, who was seated on the front row at Jackson's memorial service next to Jackson's children and siblings, occupies a special place in the Jackson family.
In Vienna earlier this month, Jackson's brother Jermaine Jackson said Bhatti would be welcomed into the family, if he's proven a Jackson.
"If Omer's his son, he's his son," Jermaine Jackson told Britain's the Daily Mail. "We won't deny it. We are going to give him the same love and care that we give Prince and Paris and Blanket. I can't clearly say if he is Michael's, but I saw this kid around him."
Jermaine Jackson said Jackson's eldest sister Rebbie seated Bhatti up front next to the family.
"My sister went and got him during the service and got him to sit closer to my mother," Jermaine Jackson said.
Since the memorial service, Bhatti has remained in Los Angeles and been seen playing at the Jackson family compound with Michael Jackson's three children -- Prince, Paris and Prince II -- according to the Daily Mail.
Stacy Brown, a Jackson biographer who once worked as a family spokesman, said he first began hearing about Bhatti in 1992, when he would have been 8.
"He would tell them [the Jackson family] that he was Michael's son," Brown said. "The fact is, he is not Michael's son."
And no, his mother's name is not Billie Jean, the title of Jackson's pop hit in which he famously sang, "The kid is not my son."
Bhatti's mother, Pia, worked as Michael Jackson's first nanny, taking care of Prince, according to Brown. His father, Biz, reportedly worked as one of Jackson's drivers.
Following Jackson's death on June 25, Pia told a reporter: "He was the King of Pop. But for us he was so much more."
Since then, the parents, who returned to Oslo, have refused to answer reporters' questions about Bhatti's parentage.
"Michael took him [Bhatti] in and took his parents in, he would travel the world with him," Brown said. "He lived at Neverland for a long time and moved out when Michael left Neverland."
"Maybe Michael loved him like a son, treated him like a son, and maybe he [Bhatti] felt like Michael was really his father," said Stuart Backerman, a former family spokesman. "But I just don't buy that he's his son."
Backerman believes if Bhatti really were Jackson's son, Jackson long ago would have acknowledged it, especially in light of how close he was to his three children.
In 2004, Us Weekly reported that Jackson did, indeed, acknowledge that he was the father. A source told the magazine: "Jackson has told his closest associates Omer's mom's was a Norwegian with whom he had a one-night stand."
An ex-Jackson associate who requested anonymity told ABCNews.com he remembered Bhatti from his days at Neverland.
"He was this kid who fawned over Michael Jackson on a trip overseas, so he became one of Michael's 'little friends,'" the former associate said. "When Michael met a new friend the parents often come along. His parents worked at Neverland for a while. It wasn't Michael's kid. This elaborate 'Billie Jean' scenario is ridiculous. Don't you think he would turn up in the will?"
Bhatti became a Jackson impersonator.
"Nobody called him Omer, they called him Michael J.," said Brown. "Ever since he was a little boy he would make himself up to look like Michael. They would wear the same -- hat, pants, shoes, even socks. Michael loved it."
Now he's an aspiring rapper who goes by the stage name O-Bee.
He also has remained a staunch defender of Jackson. Bhatti was living at Neverland when Los Angeles police raided the estate in 2003 looking for evidence of child molestation.
An investigator later testified before a grand jury that Bhatti became nervous when he was asked about pornography.
He "seemed to have trouble forming a sentence. It was almost like a stutter," the investigator, Jeffrey Ellis, said on the stand.
Ellis testified that when he questioned Bhatti about the consumption of wine and alcohol, referred to as "Jesus Juice," he saw "that same type of uneasiness in him that I noticed when I started talking to him about pornography."
Last year, Bhatti recalled the day police swooped in.
"It was totally sick. It was the whole squad from Santa Barbara Police Department," he told a reporter. "We didn't know why they were there. Michael was not at home."
Ultimately Bhatti appeared only on the defense's list of prospective witnesses.
After Jackson returned to Neverland following his arrest, the family held a welcome home party with "Soul Train" host Don Cornelius and comedian Tommy Davidson, Brown said Bhatti was there.
"He walked with the family -- they had a little procession -- and he sat up front with the family next to the stage," Ellis said.
There were other kids like Bhatti who lived and traveled with Jackson. Brett Barnes toured the world with the pop star, sleeping with him almost every night, as his sister testified to at Jackson's child molestation trial. But none of the kids seem to have stuck around as long as Bhatti.
Maybe that's why he had a front-row seat with Jackson's family at the singer's memorial.
"It was a rightful place for him," said Brown. "He grew up around Michael and really had a bond with him."