‘No, I didn’t kill Michael. He did it himself… with a massive overdose using his own stash’: What really happened the night Jackson died, by Dr Conrad Murray, the doctor jailed for the death of the King of Pop
- Dr Conrad Murray, 60, was convicted of killing Michael Jackson
- Proclaiming his innocence, he claims Jackson took an overdose
- Reveals ‘truth’ about the King of Pop’s last months in exclusive interview
Conrad Murray’s voice softens when he recalls the moment Michael Jackson reached out, clasped his hand and said in his soft falsetto voice: ‘There are only four people in my family now. Paris, Prince, Blanket and you, Dr Conrad.’
It was, the 60-year-old doctor recalls: ‘one of the happiest days of my life. This man who had been so lonely, who had spent so many long nights telling me about his pain and anguish, finally felt he could trust someone in his life apart from his children.
‘We were family. We loved each other as brothers.’
The remarkable exchange took place in Jackson’s private suite of five rooms on the second floor of his rented £60,000-a-month Beverly Hills mansion. It was an area closed to all except the singer’s three children and Dr Murray – his personal physician and private confidante.
Murray says: ‘Michael trusted no one. The bed chamber smelled because he did not even let maids in there to clean. There were clothes strewn everywhere.
‘I asked him, “Michael, what do you mean?” and he smiled and said, “I am clairvoyant.” ’
Maybe he was. This brief but intense relationship has all but destroyed Murray’s life and almost certainly defines it.
The heart surgeon, released from prison three weeks ago after serving half of a four-year sentence for killing pop superstar Jackson with an overdose of intravenous sedative, maintains he was not responsible for Jackson’s tragic death.
And, in his first-ever interview, he remains unrepentant. ‘I never gave Michael anything that would kill him,’ he says tersely. ‘I loved him. I still do. I always will.’
At a bulky 6ft 5in, Murray is a bear of a man, though he claims to have lost more than two stone in prison and says he feels ‘every one of my 60 years’. Despite his public disgrace, he has huge charm and the self-assured authority – some might say bombast – of a physician whose lucrative private practice turned over more than £2.3 million a year.
Jackson’s prediction to the doctor was, indeed, prophetic.
Two weeks after their moving conversation, Murray stood over the singer’s skeletal body as his friend lay dead on a metal trolley in a hospital emergency room.
And in what he now calls the ‘utter nightmare’ that followed the King of Pop’s death, Murray was charged with giving the lethal injection of the anaesthetic propofol that caused Jackson’s heart to stop, found guilty of involuntary manslaughter, stripped of his medical licence and sentenced to four years in jail.
In a vivid and compelling exclusive interview with The Mail on Sunday, Murray opens what he calls the ‘floodgates of pain’ as he talks for the first time about his intimate friendship with Jackson: ‘You want to know how close we were? I held his penis every night to fit a catheter because he was incontinent at night.’
For more than five hours, in a voice still thick with the lilting tones of his native Trinidad, in a faceless hotel room in southern California he tells about Michael’s perilous physical, mental and financial state and the singer’s secret addiction to prescription drugs.
And he describes in shocking detail the full horror of Jackson’s physical and mental descent ‘into the abyss’ as he fought to cope with the pressure of preparing for his This Is It comeback concerts at London’s O2 arena: ‘By the end, Michael Jackson was a broken man.
‘I tried to protect him but instead I was brought down with him.’ Most poignantly, he talks about the tragic events of June 25, 2009, the last day of Michael’s Jackson’s life.
It is clearly a subject he still finds distressing. Murray’s eyes fill with tears. ‘This is so painful,’ he says stifling a sob.
‘It’s difficult when you ask me about Michael. There’s a void in my heart, a lingering pain. I miss him every day.’
Murray says that when he first began working with Jackson in 2006, he had no idea that the superstar used propofol to help him sleep.
But when he arrived in LA three years later to help him prepare for his comeback, he discovered that Michael had a personal stash of it.
‘He told me there were doctors in Germany that gave it to him. I didn’t agree with this at all, but Michael wasn’t the kind of man you can say no to. He would always find a way.
‘So I acquired propofol and gave it to him over a two-and-a-half month period as I weaned him off it, which I finally achieved three days before he died.
‘He begged me for the drug because he wanted to sleep, because then he didn’t have to think. He was in crisis at the end of his life, filled with panic and misery.
‘I would sit with him when he was on a propofol drip. It’s a very fast-acting drug that disappears from the body quickly. Fifteen minutes after the drug is administered, it’s gone. I gave him very light, light sedation.’
Surely, I ask, as a doctor who has sworn the Hippocratic Oath he had a duty of care to cause no harm to his patient? Surely, giving an addict the drug he craves broke every basic rule of care?
Murray’s demeanour changes. His body tenses and he glares at me: ‘I would never have recommended propofol to Michael.
‘But when I got there he was on it – he called it “milk” – and he needed to get off it. I wanted to help my friend.
‘Michael was not addicted to propofol but I’ve since discovered he was addicted to other drugs, given to him by other doctors and which I was not aware of.’
Jackson, he insists, ‘was in a terrible state’. His 5ft 11in frame had wasted away to little over nine stone, he was suffering from chills, insomnia and mood swings.
He would turn up to rehearsals late and complained to Murray his performance was ‘never more than 60 per cent’.
‘Michael was a decrepit man. He was frail. I had to force him to eat, to drink fluids. He always ate the same meal: rice and chicken.
‘He was under enormous pressure. The children told him they were tired of living in hotels and rented places, but Michael was broke.
Intimate talks: Dr Conrad Murray met exclusively with The Mail On Sunday following his release from prison
‘I am innocent’: Dr Conrad Murray, seen arriving to his trial in 2011, claims he had nothing to do with Michael Jackson’s death, despite being convicted
‘He told me his only major asset, his ownership of the Beatles back catalogue of songs, had been “mortgaged up to the hilt”.
‘He wanted to do the London shows and then buy a family home, probably in Vegas. But night after night he would tell me he didn’t feel he had the capacity to do it. He said, “They are working me like a machine”.
Murray claims executives from the London concert promoters AEG threatened his friend – a charge AEG denied in court.
‘They came to the house. They said, “This house – we pay for it. The popsicles the children are sucking on – we pay for them.
“The nine security guards, we pay for them too. We pay for the toilet paper he wipes his a** on.
“If he doesn’t do these shows it’s over. He’s ruined. He doesn’t have a cent. He will be on Skid Row.” ’
On the day he died, the singer returned home from rehearsals at around 1am.
Murray says: ‘He was hysterical. He was begging me, “Please Dr Conrad, I need some milk so I can sleep.”
‘This went on for hours. I believe his insomnia that night was caused by withdrawal from demerol.’
Murray has filed an appeal against his conviction claiming, among other things, that another doctor had been giving Jackson vast amounts of demerol – an analgesic better known in this country as pethidine – without his knowledge.
His contention – made public now for the first time – is that Jackson was withdrawing from demerol on the night he died and that, when Murray was out of the room, the singer got up and injected himself with a lethal dose of propofol after Murray refused to give him the amount he had asked for.
He explains: ‘I had no idea Michael was getting demerol, which he had grown to love over several decades.
‘I’ve used demerol in the emergency room. The maximum is 75mg that I would use. Michael was receiving as much as 300mg several times a week.
‘That night he just couldn’t sleep. I prescribed him drugs to help, including valium and lorazepam, but he was begging, pleading, close to tears. “I want sleep, please Dr Conrad, I need sleep.”
‘I told him, “This is not normal. What I’ve given you would put an elephant to sleep”.
‘In the other bedroom [Michael’s private chamber], the police found an open bottle of lorazepam [an anti-anxiety drug]. They found tablets in his stomach. I didn’t give him those. Michael took extra tablets. And he injected himself.’
Murray vehemently denies the claim by the prosecution in court that he placed Jackson on a propofol drip and left the room.
Instead, he says he ‘reluctantly’ gave the star a 25mg propofol injection, a ‘minuscule’ amount that would wear off in ten minutes, and sat by Jackson’s bedside for more than half an hour as the singer finally drifted off to sleep.
‘I received a phone call at 11.07am, and when I left Michael at 11.20am, he had a normal heartbeat, his vital signs were good.
‘I left the room because I didn’t want to disturb him.
‘I believe he woke up, got hold of his own stash of propofol and injected himself. He did it too quickly and went into cardiac arrest.
‘When I came back in the room I knew instantly he wasn’t breathing. I didn’t panic. I felt and tried to get a pulse. I tried the groin and the carotid artery. There was no pulse. I immediately started CPR. I’ve resuscitated thousands of people. This was my friend but I went into medical mode.’
In court, Murray was slammed by medical experts for not calling the emergency number 911 immediately, and for performing CPR on Jackson while he lay on the bed instead of moving him to the floor. ‘I am a trained cardiac specialist, this is what I do,’ Murray insisted. ‘The bed was hard and Michael was slim. I have big hands. I placed a hand behind him and immediately started chest compressions.
‘The chances were not hopeless. I could only have hope. I wanted my friend to make it.
When Jackson’s head of security failed to answer his phone, Murray ran downstairs to scream for help. A bodyguard raced into the room.
‘When paramedics came and they moved him to the foot of the bed they did precisely what I was trying to avoid. He had a saline intravenous in his leg and this was dislodged. It took them 25 minutes to put in a new one. He got a tube down his trachea. Someone kept pumping his chest.’
Even after an emergency crew arrived, Dr Murray refused to give up on his friend, riding in the ambulance with him to nearby UCLA Medical Center.
‘I worked on him the whole way. I wanted a sign of life. I couldn’t give up. I save people. I’m a heart doctor. It’s what I do. I wanted Michael back.
‘At the hospital, he had electrical activity. The heart was getting stimulation but the heart was not strong enough to get a pulse. He hadn’t flatlined.
‘There was mild cardiac activity demonstrated on two echo-cardiograms. It was weakly contracting but not generating a pulse that was enough to generate life.
‘I was in the emergency room, watching. They tried for an hour before they called it.’
Jackson was pronounced dead at 2.26pm.
‘He was 50 years old. It was just horrible. He was so young.’ Murray buries his head in his hands. ‘It was so terrible.’ Tears begin rolling down his cheeks. ‘It was so sad.’
Murray says he then had the task of telling Jackson’s children that their father had died – after taking the advice of hospital psychiatrists.
‘I walked into the room. Paris looked at me and said, “Daddy’s dead?” I said, “Yes”.
‘The children wailed. Paris cried, “I don’t want to be an orphan! I don’t want to be an orphan!”
‘Mrs Jackson was there, La Toya was there, Jermaine was there.’
The unlikely pairing of Jackson, the child pop star from Gary, Indiana, and Murray, the dirt-poor maid’s son from the British West Indies, began in 2006 when Jackson took a temporary home in Vegas.
Murray, who had practices in Las Vegas and Houston, explains: ‘I had treated the father of one of his bodyguards. Michael’s children were sick, as was he, with a viral flu infection. I went to the house and gave Michael hydration with what we call a “banana bag”, a bag of saline with added vitamins.
‘I placed the IV in his arm and he said, “You are very skilful at that.” I replied, “That’s what I do.” ’
The doctor retains the affable bedside manner and easy charm that no doubt attracted Jackson; a man who by his own admission preferred the company of children to adults ‘because they are the only ones who don’t seek to take advantage’.
Murray is a self-confessed flirt (who has fathered seven children with six different women) and says with a grin: ‘I’ve never smoked a cigarette in my life. I don’t drink and I’ve never taken illicit drugs. My only weakness is a pretty face.’
The friendship developed rapidly. Jackson, smarting from his second child sex abuse trial in 2005 and vowing never to set foot again in his Neverland Estate, trusted no one.
‘Michael lived like a recluse with his children. He was a prisoner of whatever home he was in,’ Murray says. ‘In the beginning we talked a lot about medicine. He was fascinated by human anomalies and congenital malformations. He was obsessed by the Elephant Man.
‘I gave him a book called the Idiot’s Guide To The Body. He wanted to know everything: how many heart attack patients had I treated that day, what happens when someone flatlines . . .
‘He told me other doctors hadn’t been discreet. They would gossip about him.
‘He liked me because I wasn’t starstruck. The children loved me. We shared similar backgrounds.
‘He had a very unhappy childhood and was beaten and abused by his father. I came from poverty and didn’t meet my father until I was 25. We were both forgotten little boys.
‘Michael had a lot of lingering pain. He would sing the song The Little Boy Who Santa Claus Forgot to me and say, “That’s our song.”
‘As he grew to trust me he had someone to share his load. I was the keeper of his secrets.
‘I protected him. I am only speaking now because I have been unfairly vilified.’
Murray says Jackson often spoke of his loathing for his father Joe, who both physically and emotionally abused him as a child.
He accused his mother Katherine of being equally to blame ‘because she did nothing’ to stop the years of abuse at the hands of his family and others.
‘He told me he believed he had been sexually assaulted by one doctor while he had been under sedation. You name it, he had experienced it.’
Murray says that for the first two-and-a-half years of their friendship he treated the family for ‘minor ailments’ which included Jackson’s insomnia, and administered skin whitening cream to give him the ‘porcelain’ skin he craved.
The doctor rubbed cream into the pop star’s back and bathed his feet.
‘He transformed himself because he wanted to obscure where he came from. He wanted to look different from his family.
‘He wanted porcelain, flawless skin. Those were his words.’
Murray insists he had no idea the star was a prescription drug addict.
He says: ‘I confronted him only once. His veins were in a terrible state. I said, “Michael, I have never seen arms with such veins except in a drug addict.”
‘He looked back at me with big eyes and said, “Really, Dr Conrad?” I never asked again.
‘Perhaps I was naive, but I genuinely had no idea until I went to live with him. The Michael I knew in private was very different from the public image.
‘He wasn’t a pretentious man. At home he mostly wore pyjamas and the same pair of old black leather slip-on shoes.
‘He was always running out of underwear. He wore white cotton briefs but would never let the maids in his room because he feared they would steal from him.
‘One of his famous white gloves lay on the floor for weeks. I kept walking around it. He told me, “If I let a maid in that glove would be gone.” ’
Murray says that their friendship flourished through simple acts of kindness.
‘Michael never had anyone who cared for him. I asked him why he always wore socks. He showed me his feet. They were terrible. Fungus had penetrated into the skin. He had calluses that went all the way to the bone. He was in agonising pain.’
After Murray healed Jackson’s feet the grateful singer taught him to moonwalk in the kitchen as a thank you.
Murray also assisted his friend in a more intimate way: ‘He wore dark trousers all the time because after he went to the toilet he would drip for hours.
‘You want to know how close Michael and I were? I held his penis every night. I had to put a condom catheter on him because Michael dripped urine. He had a loss of sensation and was incontinent.
‘Michael didn’t know how to put a condom on, so I had to do it for him.
‘His room smelled terrible. I told him, “Michael you can’t live this way, we have to get the maids in to clean the bedding.” Reluctantly, he agreed.
‘It was the most intimate thing but he trusted me. I was a doctor, so that sort of thing didn’t bother me.’
Murray says that Jackson ‘constantly’ begged him to work for him full-time. He says he rejected the advances because his practice was turning over more than £2.3 million a year.
But then Jackson agreed to the This Is It concerts at London’s O2 Arena starting in the summer of 2009.
The 100 shows were guaranteed to pull him out of debt and earn him a minimum of £200 million.
‘He begged me to go with him to England to look after him and the children. He said he felt as if he might have a heart attack.
‘The stress was terrible. The insomnia was bad. He was decrepit, wasted. He was breaking down.
‘Physically and emotionally he couldn’t cope. He wasn’t looking forward to going to London.
‘He also had a hip condition, where the hip bone comes out of the socket. Michael wanted to know if I could arrange a hip replacement.
‘He was worried, too, that the promoters wouldn’t keep their promise to make four films with him after the concerts.
‘The first one was going to be Thriller in 3D. He didn’t trust AEG. He called the executives snakes.’
Much has been made of the £100,000-a-month salary that Jackson agreed to pay Murray to go to London for a year.
But he says it was never about the money.
‘I never saw a penny. Not one dime. I agreed because Michael told me I’d meet kings and queens and all sorts of people I’d never get a chance to meet.
‘My motivation was to help my friend and to have a break.
‘We had already picked out houses. Michael had his place in the country and my house was down the road from his.’
Dr Murray never did get to meet kings and queens and live in the English countryside.
Instead, he now travels everywhere with bodyguards and refuses to reveal where he is living because of death threats from grieving fans who have dubbed him Dr Death and Conrad Murderer.
It is a charge he earnestly and steadfastly denies.
When you hear him speak you are left in no doubt that, whether or not he is telling the truth about what happened that night, he believes wholeheartedly in his own innocence.
‘I did not kill Michael Jackson. He was a drug addict.
‘Michael Jackson accidentally killed Michael Jackson.’
HOW I TOLD THE CHILDREN THAT THEIR FATHER WAS DEAD
‘I found out the kids were at the hospital, they were in a room having pizza.
‘I called for a team of psychiatrists. We spoke briefly about whether, if the children wanted it, it would be OK for them to see their father? I walked into the room. Paris looked at me and said, “Daddy’s dead?” I said, “Yes.”
‘The children wailed. Paris cried, “I don’t want to be an orphan! I don’t want to be an orphan!” Mrs Jackson was there, La Toya was there, Jermaine was there, but I thought they acted cold.
‘I was so worried about those children, they had no relationship with their mother. I didn’t know what to do. But Paris is a remarkable child. I have never seen such mettle in a child that age.
‘On the day he died, she sought me out in the corridor. I felt as if Michael was talking through her. She said, “My daddy died today. I know you did everything you could. If he didn’t survive I know it’s not because you didn’t do everything you could.”
‘It breaks my heart that those children are now without the one person who loved them more than anything.
‘I loved those children. I would love to sit down with them and tell them how much I cared for their father but I worry that their minds have been poisoned against me.’
MICHAEL’S DEATH WISH
‘We talked about death and dying. Michael told me he wanted to be cremated and scattered somewhere nice and warm, and we talked about the coral reef off the Turks and Caicos Islands.
‘He hated California because of the two child sex cases against him. His family ended up putting him in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Los Angeles.’
‘HE JOKED ABOUT HAVING SEX WITH DEBBIE ROWE’
Dr Murray claims that he and Michael spoke about the parentage of the children, and even suggests that they have three different fathers.
‘None of them are Michael’s biological children,’ he says. ‘Michael told me he never slept with Debbie Rowe [the biological mother of Prince and Paris]. We joked that neither of us would want to have sex with her.
‘He chose friends or business colleagues to help him. He told me he wanted to sever any genetic link to his family.’
What about Oliver actor Mark Lester’s claims that he is the father of at least one of the children?
Murray says: ‘I will not talk about this. If the children want to know, I will tell them.
‘There are some secrets I will take to my grave.’
WE LOOKED AT GIRLY MAGS
Was Michael homosexual or attracted to children?
Murray says: ‘I can’t tell you everything. What I will say is that he and I would look at girly magazines.
‘He liked skinny brunettes. He told me his whole life gay men had tried it on with him.
‘He was uncomfortable with a lot of it. He said it was part of being in showbusiness.
‘I don’t think he was homophobic but I know he’d had some terrible experiences.
‘He told me he felt safe being around me.
‘He knew I wouldn’t try anything.’
I TAPED UP HIS PLASTIC NOSE
‘Michael had a prosthetic piece of plastic which he taped to his nose. I would help him tape it down. We had no secrets.
‘He also used huge thick magnifying glasses to read and would buy those cheap reading glasses you get at the chemist.
‘I was worried about him and booked an eye exam for him. He never went.
‘I said, “Michael, you have to get your eyes examined. I don’t want you falling off stage in England.”
‘Most nights I would sit by his bed and read to him. He loved travel magazines and medical journals.’
ELIZABETH TAYLOR WAS MICHAEL’S ‘REAL’ MUM
‘Michael told me that Liz Taylor was more of a mother to him than Katherine ever was.
‘His father Joe Jackson was one of the destroyers of Michael, and Michael told me his mother was an enabler.
‘The Jacksons only ever wanted money from him. Three weeks before Michael died, Joe turned up at the house and was pummelling on the gate wanting Michael to sign an agreement for a pay-per-view television show for the Return Of The Jackson 5.
‘Michael said to me, “I’m not in the Jackson 5. That’s a thing of the past. I don’t want to be a bank for my family any longer.”
‘Michael loved movies and Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers. We sat and watched every single Bond movie there was.’