A day after a star-studded memorial paid tribute to Michael Jackson, countless questions lingered Wednesday as to the whereabouts of the King of Pop's body and the location of his final resting place.
Initially it appeared that Jackson’s casket – taken by a hearse to the Staples Center and laid out in front of 20,000 fans – would return to Forest Lawn Cemetery for burial Tuesday, but as the day wore on, it became increasingly apparent that his body would not be taken back to the Hollywood Hills cemetery where his family held a small private ceremony that morning.
Jackson's official death certificate, which was released during the memorial on Tuesday, did not list a cause of death. The official determination will likely wait until toxicology results are completed, which could be weeks away.
But the certificate did reveal a crucial detail, further clouding the mystery surrounding the location of Jackson’s body: Forest Lawn was only a temporary resting place.
Los Angeles officer April Harding said Tuesday that Jackson’s body would not be returning to Forest Lawn, but there was no indication of where his coffin was taken following its removal from the Staples Center
According to a report in the U.K. Sun, the body was transported to a secret location, and did not go with the family’s motorcade, which stopped briefly at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel for a post-service lunch.
Others think the body may have already been buried, the Sun reported, and that the casket that took center-stage at the ceremony was in fact an empty prop.
Still, in all likelihood, Jackson has yet to be buried, especially in light of the fact that the pop superstar's brain is still being held for examination and that the cause of his death has yet to be determined.
Assistant Chief Coroner Ed Winter told the Associated Press that Jackson's brain, or at least part of it, was still being held by investigators and would be returned to the family for interment once neuropathology tests were completed.
"As soon as we are done with the brain, we will return it," Winter said. "There is a whole series of tests that will be done."
In order to be examined thoroughly, the brain tissue needs time for sufficient hardening.
It is not uncommon for the coroner to hold on to a brain or samples from it. Winter said families sometimes delay burying a loved one until after the brain has been returned, but he had received no word from the Jackson family about their intentions.
"The last I heard, they are not burying the body yet," Winter said.
There was some indication that the family was interested in burying the singer at his Neverland Ranch in Santa Barbara, a move that would require special permission in accordance with state laws. Initially, the family moved to have a funeral at Neverland, but they were not able to obtain a residential exemption required for burial on private property. Colony Capital, the investment company that purchased Neverland in May of 2008, told People magazine on July 1 that the family was not able to get the exemption in time for the memorial.
Still, that does not rule out the possibility of cremation and the scattering of his ashes at Neverland, although that process is also subject to California laws.
Meanwhile, police and coroner's officials continue their investigation into the 50-year-old pop star's death on June 25.
According to a report in TMZ, the family has provided the LAPD with a list of doctors they believe wrongly prescribed drugs to Jackson, including dermatologist Dr. Arnold Klein, who denied any illegal or unethical involvement.
Meanwhile, investigators have homed in on drugs that were administered to the insomniac Jackson. The powerful sedative Diprivan, which is usually administered by anesthesiologists in hospitals, was found in his home, according to a law enforcement official.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.