In the midst of a power struggle over control of Michael Jackson's estate and the mysterious absence of the late pop superstar's mother, the son of Jackson's brother Tito was appointed today temporary guardian of the singer's three children. During an emergency hearing in downtown Los Angeles, Superior Court Judge Mitchell Beckloff suspended Katherine Jackson's guardianship of the children -- Paris, 14, Prince, 15, and Blanket, 10 -- not because of any wrongdoing, but because of the ongoing dispute among the Jackson siblings and Katherine's continued absence.
TJ Jackson, the 34-year-old son of Tito Jackson, told Beckloff during the hearing that he spoke yesterday to Katherine Jackson, who has apparently been in Arizona, allegedly under doctor's orders. TJ Jackson said she was talking strangely and seemed to be speaking in code, and other people's voices could be heard in the background. Attorneys for TJ and Katherine Jackson also told Beckloff they suspected Katherine Jackson's absence from Los Angeles was not voluntary.
Katherine Jackson was reported missing over the weekend, but sheriff's officials said that investigation was closed when she surfaced with family in Arizona. Michael Jackson's brother Randy said today on ``Good Morning America'' that Katherine Jackson was on her way back to Los Angeles. He insisted that her health was ``really bad,'' and a doctor ``wanted her to go somewhere where she couldn't be on the phone, and just cut off from the outside world for a few days.''
Her disappearance, however, sparked a series of angry posts on Twitter by Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris, who said she hadn't been able to speak to her grandmother for nine days. Katherine's disappearance also occurred at roughly the same time that Jackson siblings Randy, Janet, Jermaine, Tito and Rebbie sent a letter to the executors of Michael Jackson's estate, challenging the validity of the late singer's will.
They contended that Jackson was in New York the day the executors claim he signed the will in Los Angeles. Tito has reportedly withdrawn his opposition to the will. The executors of Jackson's estate have insisted that the will is valid and denounced the effort by the Jacksons to discredit the document. The unrest within the family culminated with a confrontation among the siblings and Paris Jackson Monday outside Katherine Jackson's estate in Calabasas. A security video of the confrontation, showing a tense exchange between Janet and Paris Jackson, was made public Tuesday.
At the onset of today's hearing, Judge Beckloff initially indicated he would not act on TJ Jackson's request for temporary guardianship because nobody had notified Diana Ross, who is named in Michael Jackson's will as the successor guardian of the children in Katherine Jackson's absence. After agreeing to appoint TJ Jackson as temporary guardian, the judge instructed attorneys to notify Ross and Debbie Rowe, the mother of Paris and Prince. Beckloff also ordered that the children not be taken out of California without a court order. He also suggested that -- as a procedural matter -- TJ Jackson file a motion for permanent guardianship.