Recently I came across one more of the thousands of online references to the wedding, in the Dominican Republic, of the late Michael Jackson to Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the also late Elvis. That “wedding” – allegedly held more than 20 years ago – is one of the most amazing hoaxes in modern times.
It is amazing, not only for having deceived so many people and so many journalists at that time. The most amazing thing is that the myth, the hoax, the fraud, is widely believed and cited as a real event, even in media that are famously skeptical and cautious to a fault about what they will call fact, long after factual and documentary evidence exposed the obvious fakery.
This article is not one of those wack-job conspiracy theories like those that claim 9/11 was caused by government detonation of hidden bombs, or the sad nonsense that says there was a second shooter at the Kennedy assassination.
This is a hoax that anyone can see is a hoax, as soon as they examine the mistakes in the documents created by the hoaxers. Once those mistakes catches your attention, examination of other independently-sourced facts make it indisputable that the “wedding” is a hoax.
Before the alleged wedding ceremony took place, I had been an editor of an English language newspaper in the Dominican Republic. About two years prior to the alleged wedding, I returned to New York, working as a journalist at a newspaper serving the USA’s Dominican immigrant community, but retained my contacts back there.
That’s why I was able to assemble all the published and unpublished details, notes and photos made by reporters, starting with the original interview given by the Dominican Justice of the Peace who announced to a reporter that he had married them in his living room in the remote Dominican town of La Vega.
For example, I have a complete and uncut roll of negatives, 36 shots, of Kodachrome (remember this was in the early 90s, before digital cameras) taken during the interview in the JP’s living room, during which he claimed to have performed the wedding in that room. The entire room can be seen in those photos from all angles. There also are closeups of the Marriage License Registration Book, including clear images of both sides of the page filled in during the officiant’s alleged pre-ceremony interview, required by law in that country, of all wedding ceremony principals .
On those forms, Lisa Marie Presley spells her first or last name wrong four different ways. Not once does “she” spell the entire name correctly.
She allegedly describes herself as an actress – but there is no record, before this time, that she had ever made such a claim or had ever acted on any stage or in any film anywhere, at any time.
According to the forms she allegedly filled out, the adult Lisa Marie at the time of this document was living in Memphis, TN, a place she has not lived in since she was a pre-schooler. The passport number she supposedly handed over during the wedding ceremony interview does not match the one on her actual passport listed in Dominican Immigration and is not assigned to anyone at all in the US. It’s a fake number.
In his answers on the same form, Jacko supposedly said he lives in Gary, Indiana, a town he had not lived in since he was a toddler. When asked about his parents, he supposedly said his father was, at the time of the document, a government pensioner (which he never was) and his mother is a domestic (a hired house maid).
Most of that nonsensical information can be found in one mouth-breather’s supermarket tabloid after another. The rest, like the spelling mistakes, are probably sourced by the JP himself. That is the only sensible explanation for how it was put into the form that was allegedly filled out by those two people under his eye.
According to the official wedding registration book and the JP’s newspaper interview in his living room, the “wedding” took place at 10:00am in that same place, the living room in the JP’s home.
But hotel records say that Presley and Jackson, along with Presley’s Scientology entourage were staying in separate rooms, in separate buildings, at Casa de Campo, a resort more than 4 and 1/2 hours drive away from the JP’s home, over unpaved and unmarked roads through the mountains. To get to the JP’s home in La Vega at 10am, they would had to have left their hotel no later than 5:30am.
In 1994, many years before the now-existing modern toll road through the mountains was built, the only way to get from Casa de Campo to La Vega (and back) was to drive west from the resort and pass through the incredible morning rush-hour traffic jam that is Santo Domingo.
In those days – and to large extent even now – every intersection in that city of two and one-half million people was a battle ground. Traffic lights are still not common. AIn those days, they were almost non-existent.
Once you fought your way through that mess and out the western side of the city, to head towards La Vega, you must turn north and cross two mountain ranges (each of them close to one mile high) on poorly paved – and sometime never paved – roads that lack road signs or directions.
Until a toll road was built in the early part of the 21st Century, there was no other road, just a loosely defined series of confusions.
There were no restaurants along the way. No public toilets. No gasoline stations. It is a rugged, even dangerous trip in daylight; at night Dominicans are wise to avoid it – and do.
The 4 and 1/2 hours assigned to their alleged trip assumes no stops for food or rest. It assumes never getting lost. It assumes never needing to ask directions in Spanish.
It may be hard to believe here in 2013, but in those days, the early 1990s – and for many years to come – there were no cell phones in that country. So how these non-Spanish-speaking strangers navigated right to that Justice of the Peace’s home remains one of the epic mysteries of modern times.
According to the Justice of the Peace who claims he married them in his living room – but has no photos of them ever being in his home – there were only four adults (Michael, Lisa and the two witnesses) and a “very young baby.” He says they arrived in a white van, at his home at 10:00am. He specifically states that they were alone, without a driver or interpreter.
No one, including the JP, has ever tried to explain how they knew him or why they chose him, so far away and unknown outside his home town, instead of all the many alternatives they passed on their alleged journey.
Why did they not use one of the JPs who regularly officiate at Casa de Campo weddings? Why not one from the nearby town of Romana, or even Santo Domingo?
The alleged witnesses on the “wedding license” were Lisa’s Scientology “minder” who calls herself Darlene Love and her husband who happens to be the brother of Lisa Marie’s “former” husband, Danny Keough.
They were allegedly accompanied, during that 9-hour round-trip trip by a baby “less than a year old.” That detail was provided by the JP during his interview. Yet, no baby is listed in any records of immigration, the hotel or the airport.
The four adults and one infant all allegedly arrived at he JP’s home in a white rented van.
Only one car rental company at Casa de Campo offered white vans at that time. One was rented by Darlene Love at that agency at their desk in the lobby of the Casa de Campo hotel, using her personal American Express credit card. It was the only white van rented out by any of the four agencies active at Casa de Campo during that time. For a small private cash fee, the clerk provided a reporter with a photocopy of that rental agreement and the Amex receipt.
After the rental agency confirmed that this was the van – and the only van – rented to anyone in that group of people, it was photographed extensively by this team of reporters – including its VIN# to confirm its identity – and notes were taken of its minimalist features.
No air conditioning, no seat belts, un-padded seats.
This is the vehicle in which four adults and one infant allegedly spent a total of 9 hours, going and coming from Casa de Campo to La Vega and back during one day.These four adults, two of whom, individually owned major fortunes and two of them representing a wealthy cult, allegedly made this dangerous and uncomfortable trip in a foreign land, whose language none of them speaks, in such a poorly equipped vehicle, across territory that even today has one of the western-world’s worst auto-accident-based fatality records – and they did it alone, starting out in the dark, in a time frame that other of their claims and public records show is not possible.
The rental record says that during the 6-days the rental was in Darlene Love’s control, this van actually traveled fewer than 100 miles, less than 25% of the distance to and from from the resort at Casa de Campo to the JP’s home in La Vega.
Could someone have tampered with the odometer to obscure the distance actually traveled? Yes, but they also would have to have known where, under the vehicle, is hidden the secret odometer that the rental company uses to keep track of the visible meter. If the two odometers had not matched upon return when examined by the rental company (standard procedure) that discrepancy would have been reported on the rental record, But there was no problem. They match on the vehicle intake form.
But more revealing than the lack of miles needed for the alleged trip, is the issue of time. That cannot be tampered with.
To arrive at the JP’s home at 10am, the van would have had to leave the hotel no later than 5:30am and travel non-stop. It’s pitch dark at that hour on that date.
The roads of that time have no lighting, are badly made, have miles of unpaved stretches with huge potholes and washouts caused by tropical rains and absolutely no road signs of any kind. Virtually no one in the DR dares use those roads in the dark except to travel a few hundred yards in their own immediate area. Long stretches of the roads through the high mountains towards La Vega are un-paved.
Yet, here we have the claim that four foreigners, none of whom speak Spanish and who have never before been in that country, left their resort at 5:30 (in the dark) and drove through the mountains in that un-air-conditioned van – with a baby on board, too. No seat belts. No padding. We are speaking of some of the wealthiest people in the world and they did not spend a few bucks to hire an experienced local driver/interpreter?
As you know, people like Jacko and Lisa never go anywhere without bodyguards, but they supposedly did that wild trip in a foreign country, without even a single bodyguard? The room registrations at CdC shows there were at least 3 guards with each of them. And there can be no stopping for food or rest if you want to make the round trip in that time.
Really? I mean REALLY?
Strange thing is, room service records back at the hotel show that breakfast was delivered and eaten by people in each of those rooms, at varying times between 8am and 11am, during the time they were allegedly on that arduous trip.
Note again, at this point, that the journalist for the respected Dominican newspaper Listin Diario who interviewed the JP in the living room of his LaVega home shot that roll of film and it contains many clear photos of that room in his home. The photos also include the JP and his wife, showing off the relevant pages of the official wedding registration book.
Back to the issue of time.
They supposedly “returned” to the Casa de Campo airport that very same day and took off in the Sony-operated jet that left the island a few minutes after 12 noon.
To do that, means they made the four-and-a-half return trip from La Vega starting at 10:30 in slightly more than an hour and a half.
Yet, within that same time frame, they allegedly also managed to pack up their rooms, check out of the hotel, return the van rental, get to the airport (well, it is on the hotel property), clear through outgoing Dominican Customs which requires a filing some forms and paying departure fees and climb aboard the jet. No lunch. No bathroom break. No phone calls. (No showers? Yeeww.)
The Noon departure of that jet, and its passenger list detailing the presence of the same four adults (and no baby), plus the jet’s crew, are recorded in the plane’s log filed in the USA with the Federal Aviation Authority. The CdC airport control tower supports that entry. Both documents are public records and were provided by the authorities on request.
But, there’s even more evidence that knocks down any theory that the airplane’s log might have been falsified or mistaken. There is an eyewitness and a solid document that also confirms who was actually on that airplane.
All air traffic in and out of the Dominican Republic is under the control of the Dominican Military. A ranking Dominican Air Force Officer must personally record and approve every such event, complete with the plane’s official ID and a review of the passenger list. The DR government, as well as the US DEA and US Customs and Immigration, both of which cooperate with the DR, are especially interested in the movement and contents and passengers on private planes that might be used to move drugs or illegal travelers.
On that particular day, as the Sony-operated jet was taxiing to its starting point for takeoff, the Colonel on duty saw the name Michael Jackson on the manifest.
In an interview for this story, he stated that he already had known Jacko was in the country because the previous day, the country’s leading daily newspaper (Listin Diario) had published a front page story, complete with a standard publicity photo of Michael, repeating the rumor that Jackson was at Casa de Campo to discuss performing in the Amphitheater at Altos de Chavon (part of the 17,000-acre Casa de Campo property).
That day-old newspaper was lying on the Colonel’s desk as he read the Sony-jet passenger manifest and saw the name Michael Jackson. He says he picked his phone and called the airport tower, telling them to hold the plane at its starting position on the runway and order the pilot to shut down the engines, open the door and lower the stairs for an official inspection.
He has that authority to do that. Those military officers exercise that authority whenever they wish.
He then jumped in his jeep and raced the few hundred yards to the plane sitting at the starting point on the runway. He had the newspaper with him. Today was his teen-daughter’s birthday and he was determined to bring her Michael Jackson’s autograph.
That’s exactly what he did. He showed this reporter that newspaper, with the Jackson photo on the front page and his distinctive (and subsequently verified) autograph. He allowed the newspaper to be photographed for the expose that this reporter helped create for television.
Th also mentioned there were three other adults on the plane (whom the manifest confirms were Presley – traveling under her married name – her sister-in-law, Darlene Love and her husband – but no baby). The Colonel had no interest in them. He did not realize their identity and relationship. He did not speak with them. He had no idea that by establishing the simple fact of Jackson’s being on the plane, that he was exposing the hoax that required all of them to be somewhere else at that time.
The Colonel then allowed the plane to leave. The log of the airport tower, and the Colonel’s official report and the airplane’s log all agree, that the plane with MJ on it took off shortly after 12 noon.
For that alleged “wedding” to have taken place that morning, those people had not only made the four and one half hour trip to La Vega in that white van, but had the time to get married and return to the hotel in about half the time it would take the rest of us mortals.
Now, let’s turn to the so-called homemade video of the “wedding” that was shown on ABC-TV’s Diane Sawyer show. More than any other evidence, is the most convincing evidence of a deliberate hoax and fraud.
That “home video” scene was not shot in the JP’s living room in the town of La Vega. The location of the video is clearly not the JPs living room seen in the roll of photos shot in his home.
It was faked in a hotel room at Casa de Campo.
This reporter went to that hotel and with the help of the manager ($50 bucks can get you a lot in that country) and found that exact room.
Using a copy of that Diane Sawyer interview video running on a portable playback, it was confirmed that we had the right room.
Our cameraman recorded a new video guided by and recreating the home video, showing every detail and camera movement in the supposed wedding ceremony – but empty of people. It was one of the rooms rented in the name of one of the two bodyguards. It is totally different in every way from the JP’s living room.
So, how come the people in the video are not in the JP’s living room, as the official wedding register claims?
Why is that “ceremony” more proof of a deliberate fraud? Why go to all that trouble of making a fake video?
Because, the JP is licensed by the government of the province of which La Vega is the capital, to perform weddings and make a legal record of various civil events and activities (marriage, birth, criminal events, property transfers, etc.) only in his home town. He is not licensed in any other province in that country. That is why, to support the hoax, the wedding registration book and his newspaper interview both claim he performed the ceremony in his living room.
The entry in the book of recorded marriages written by the Justice of the Peace says the ceremony was performed in his home in La Vega. Had that actually happened, he might have performed and recorded a genuinely legal wedding.
But there is the video, provided by Jackson and Presley, shown on the Diane Sawyer show, that undeniably shows them creating a fake ceremony performed in a hotel room in Casa de Campo.
Thus we know, that not only was there NOT a wedding in the JP’s home, but he had officiated at a faked and invalid ceremony in Casa De Campo whose only purpose was deception. It was not a real wedding. There is no record of a real wedding officiated in Casa de Campo by this JP – and there cannot be – because this JP had no authority to officiate and record weddings there. His registration book that creates the wedding licenses for La Vega is only for weddings that take place in La Vega.
We also know that the record in the La Vega book is fake because the two participants and their two witnesses could not have been there on that date and time.
There’s more evidence of fraud – much more.
For instance, when the TV crew and I visited his office and put the JP in front of a rolling camera and he was confronted with the above evidence of these frauds, a fist fight broke out. As soon as he realized his part in the fraud was exposed, His 300-pound bodyguard attacked the video crew in an attempt to steal the video of that confrontation.
That attack failed because the camera crew included a soundman who was a black belt martial arts expert. He stopped the assault on the cameraman by putting the JP’s bodyguard in a headlock and threw him down on the floor. One of our producers picked up a heavy chair and threatened to smash the locked full-length glass door to the street if it was not immediately unlocked.
At that point, the JP surrendered the keys and we were able to leave.
Once outside the building, the Dominican driver hired for the day took almost exactly three-and-one -half hours, driving like a madman, to return us to Santo Domingo in our rented van that had seat belts, air-conditioning and comfortable seats.
Had we not stopped in Santo Domingo, but continued on to Casa de Campo, it would have taken us almost another hour.
So that’s it, right? End of story?
Nope. There’s more proof of the fraud.
A few weeks prior to the alleged wedding (that never took place) there was a fake divorce.
Lisa Marie’s “former” husband and father of her children, Danny Keough, also the brother-in-law of her Scientology “minder” Darlene Love, went to the DR to get a quickie divorce about a month prior to the alleged Jackson-Presley “wedding.” They only cost a few hundred dollars.
Divorce law in the DR for foreigner petitioners does not even require a personal appearance or proof that the other partner in the marriage has been notified of the filing.
That process was created to give the local legal system, lawyers, judges, courts and various clerks a way to earn some of the Yankee dollars that flow through the country.
Divorces for Dominicans themselves are not as loosey-goosey. Like many other Latin countries, where marriage is a sacred institution with oversight by the attitude of the Catholic church, divorces for Dominican residents require the usual filings of complaints, notices, responses, delays and personal hearings, same as those in other civilized countries. All of that is intended to protect both partners – and society – and progeny – and heirs – from attempts at secret divorces that might deprive them and children of property rights, inheritances, financial support, etc.
But the law for both locals and foreigners does have one common provision that applies to everyone, for the protection of the state, against secret divorce and fraudulent weddings. A divorce decree in the DR is not final when it is issued by the Court. Before it is a real divorce, it must first be published, complete with the details of the court, the name of the lawyers and the names of the participants, within 30-days after the court ruling that grants the divorce, in a government approved “newspaper of record.”
This is a common requirement in legal systems around the world. The process even has a name “interlocutory decree.” While it has faded from use in the USA, it was a law in the DR at the time of this hoax.
There actually is a newspaper in that country published for the specific purpose of satisfying the public notice requirements for divorces, real estate transaction, bankruptcies, etc.
The quickie “divorce” that was filed for Lisa’s Marie’s husband has never been published in that official public notice. So, right there, you have a problem, that Lisa was never properly divorced before this so-called wedding.
But that situation gets worse. Even if she was actually divorced, she would not have been allowed to remarry at the time the hoax claims she was.
DR law has another provision that some other societies also have. Remember – this is before DNA testing could establish paternity.
In order to avoid real or fake claims of paternity, a divorced woman in the DR may not re-marry until 11 months after her divorce is final. That way, the theory says, a former husband cannot be held responsible or charged with support for a child born in a subsequent re-marriage. Yet this alleged “wedding” that never really took place, was faked less than a month after her “former” husband got a quickie divorce.
In simple terms, she is still, to this very day, married to her “first” husband and never was free to marry Michael Jackson, or anyone else in the Dominican Republic.
Let’s say that all of the above is not true. Let’s say that she was free to marry and that they did go through a valid wedding ceremony performed by an authorized official who made a valid record.
So they were legally married, right?
There are laws in the Dominican Republic to discourage fraudulent “quickie weddings” that affect property inheritance, bastardy and so on. That country may be poor by world standards but it has been around a long time. They have been screwed over by world powers and they have learned a lot about protecting themselves from exploitation.
Before a marriage may be performed for any foreigner visiting the DR, the following steps must be done on the public records of those foreign visitors.
Any foreigner who wants to have a valid and legally recognized marriage ceremony in the Dominican Republic (in this case both Lisa Marie and Michael are not Dominicans, and therefore are foreigners when in that country) is required to appear IN PERSON at the Consulate of the country of which that person is a citizen.
There are no exceptions for celebrities. Famous people cannot use a proxy or messenger for that pre-wedding visit to their country’s Consul. They must appear in person.
Before they are allowed past the US Marines at the Consulate front gate, into the grounds of the Consulate, a record of the passport number and the person’s name and the purpose of their visit, is entered into the record book at the front gate.
No record exists of this necessary visit by either Jackson or Presley. Nor is there any record of any of the documents that would be created or issued during that interview.
US Citizen’s applying for the required verification service about their legal status to be married in the DR must deliver a verifiable copy of their birth certificate, with an original seal, no photocopies accepted. If any of the parties were previously married, a verifiable copy of either their spouse’s death certificate or a divorce decree must be delivered at the Consulate interview.
Once inside the Consulate, they first will fill out a form explaining why they want to see the US Consul Officer. The completed form is given to a clerk who records it and then gives it to the Consul. After a wait that can be anywhere from 5 minutes to a few hours, depending on how busy things are that day, a US Consular Officer will interview them and examine the documents they bring and leave with him (or her) to prove who they are, prove they are a US Citizen and prove they are eligible to be married.
The Consul will ask questions to verify that the person is the US citizen they claim to be. City of birth? Where they live now? etc. – It’s a simple interview similar to the one you get when you return from a trip outside the USA.
The Consul writes the answers in a case folder he has launched at the start of the interview. The Consul also will create a three-part form for each applicant.
The form is made up in three identical copies (each a different color) of an oath taken by the Consul, saying that the applicant has appeared in person, proven their identity and given documentary proof to the consul, that the applicant is eligible to be married by death or divorce or oath that they have never been previously married.
The Consul signs each copy of the oath document and applies the USA Consul’s Seal to each of the three copies. Then the applicant takes a similar oath and signs each of those same copies as proof that this examination event has happened.
The Consul keeps the first copy. After a computer record of it is scanned, that paper copy will be filed in a permanent filing cabinet. This all becomes a matter of public record, not secret files, because marriages are, by their very nature, a public event and the whole purpose is to create a record for everyone to see. Anyone who wants to can file a “Freedom of Information” request and they government must deliver the requested documents IF THEY EXIST.
Each applicant gets the other two copies.
One copy is to be kept by the applicant, because, after all, they signed it and have the right to a copy.
The third copy is to be presented to the Dominican official (priest, judge, justice of the peace, etc.) who will perform the wedding ceremony and make an official Dominican record that it happened. This document is his or her legal authority to perform a marriage ceremony for a foreigner.
Unless that copy is attached to the wedding license, there cannot be a legal marriage involving a non-Dominican.
Now for what the records show.
The US Consulate, in a formal interview granted to this reporter said that neither Michael Jackson nor Lisa Marie Presley nor anyone claiming to represent either of them, had ever made an appointment of simply showed up at the Consulate for any reason at all – ever.
- There is no record, or personal recollection, by anyone in the US Consulate of any visit by either applicant to have this pre-marital interview and get this approval document.
- The Consulate staff that was interviewed regarding these matters said that when Listin Diario published the interview with the judge in La Vega, claiming the alleged wedding had taken place, “We knew it was a hoax. We all laughed and wondered how long it would be before the press came and asked to see these public records that we know do not exist.”
So there is the sordid, undeniable truth.
Diane Sawyer’s staff refused to examine a single piece of the above the evidence they were offered, despite being explicitly warned they were promoting a hoax.
No one claiming to represent Jackson, Presley or the so-called “Church of Scientology” has ever publicly discussed, denied or challenged any of the above revelations.
Bottom Line – Michael Jackson and Lisa Marie Presley were never married in the Dominican Republic, as claimed around the world, in 1994.
EDITING NOTE: The events and reporting in this article included a large amount of work done by other people, especially one highly-regarded investigative reporter who uncovered many of the documents and facts reported above. His name – and the name of the prime-time television program that supported the research and paid both of us for our work – are not reported above only because I have not secured permission to use their names.)