Michael Jackson lived in NJ right under our noses in 2007
Arguably the most famous celebrity to ever walk the planet hid out in New Jersey, the most densely populated state in the United States.
In late 2007, word started getting around that Michael Jackson was in North Jersey and was spotted around New York City.
Some digging by entertainment reporters at the time led them to the quiet yet extravagant Franklin Lakes, a borough in Bergen County.
At the time, then-Fox News columnist Roger Friedman reported accounts from his sources that "Jackson showed up on the doorstep of Dominick and Connie Cascio in mid-August and stayed until the day he left for Los Angeles and Jesse Jackson’s birthday party around Nov. 7."
There's actually photographic evidence of Michael Jackson at the Jesse Jackson party just a day later. Considering how abrupt he left Franklin Lakes, he may have still been digesting a pork roll, egg, and cheese from nearby Oakland Bagel & Pastry in this photo:
The King of Pop and the Cascio family supposedly went way back. According to Friedman, M.J. "met Dominick in the mid-'80s when the latter worked for the Helmsley Palace Hotel. Jackson immediately became fast friends with the Cascios."
Jackson did not emerge from the home very much, but on Halloween of 2007, reports were circulating about him buying a number of items at a costume shop in Wyckoff, right next to Franklin Lakes.
From the New York Daily News,
"He had like a black turban covering his neck and his face," said a worker at "The Halloween Store" in Boulder Run mall, who gave her name only as Denise and served Jacko on Oct. 31. "He was wearing shades and a baseball cap. He only spoke to his assistant, but I knew it was him. His voice was high pitched."
This was an especially turbulent time for Michael Jackson. And little did we know he was less than two years away from dying.
It was widely expected he would lose Neverland Ranch after defaulting on payments.
This was also not too long after his 2005 acquittal in his second child sexual abuse trial, a deeply disturbing 10-count indictment. Fox's Roger Friedman reported another Cascio, eldest son Frank Cascio, actually played a part in the process.
Frank Cascio, now known as Frank Tyson, the eldest of five children, worked for Jackson starting when he was 18. Tyson was one of five unnamed co-conspirators in the Santa Barbara District Attorney’s failed prosecution of Jackson in 2005. In fact, it was Tyson’s meticulous record-keeping that probably saved Jackson from the state’s conspiracy charges.
"Insiders" reported to Friedman that Michael Jackson first relocated to Northern Virginia, but left for Franklin Lakes by mid-August of 2007. Witnesses say one day he arrived with his three kids, a tutor, and security.
Once he was gone, however, he didn't return. Imagine hiding out in New Jersey of all places. But it seemed to have worked. These articles didn't start circulating until after he and his family had left.
I feel as though this story would have been much funnier if Michael Jackson hid out in Shamong instead. The name Shamong sounds more like a signature Michael Jackson noise than any other New Jersey town.
Unless there's a Hee-Hee, NJ that I'm not aware of.
The post above reflects the thoughts and observations of New Jersey 101.5 producer, writer, and host Joe Votruba. Any opinions expressed are his own.