Omer Bhatti, the young man being referred to as Michael Jacksonâ€™s â€œsecret sonâ€ by the British press, was no secret to the pop starâ€™s family.
Sources close to the Jacksons say that Bhatti, who often went by Michael J, was introduced to the Jackson family as early as 1992.
â€œOne day at the (Neverland) ranch, Michaelâ€™s nephew Austin, (Jacksonâ€™s sister) Rebbieâ€™s son, told his mom he just met a kid who called himself Michael J, but his name was Omer, and he was saying that Uncle Michael was his father. It was just that out of the blue,â€ said one Jackson family friend. â€œThis was news to Rebbie, and she turned around and called (Jacksonâ€™s mother) Katherine, who had no knowledge of it either.â€
From that point forward, Bhatti was â€œrunning around Neverland all the time,â€ and lived there until â€œaround 2000, or 2001,â€ according to a family friend close to Rebbie Jackson.
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â€œThe family has been wondering how long it would take for this to get out,â€ the friend said.
Is he really Michaelâ€™s biological son?
Although Bhatti appeared mysteriously and without explanation years before Jackson and Debbie Rowe had son Prince Michael, several family friends who protected the pop starâ€™s privacy through the years say they accepted the idea Bhatti was a biological son.
â€œHe looked so much like Michael, especially when he was younger. We have every reason to believe itâ€™s his son,â€ said another family friend who met Bhatti.
As for how heâ€™s being protected after Jacksonâ€™s death, all the family friends who spoke of Bhatti agree that part of the reason Katherine Jackson got such a large percentage of the estate was because sheâ€™d be providing for Bhatti as well.
Who is the mother?
Bhattiâ€™s mother remains a mystery to the family. But one famous friend may know her identity.
â€œElizabeth Taylor introduced Michael to the mother. Thatâ€™s all anyone knows about her,â€ said a source who didnâ€™t know Bhatti personally, but is close to Taylor.