Between December 2007 and March 2008, a group of four photographers repeatedly snuck onto Michael Jackson’s Neverland Ranch grounds, and took pictures of the creepiness they saw. This was a few years before he died, but Jackson abandoned the estate after, as Vice notes, it had been “searched by 70 police officers from the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Department.” The urban explorers understandably don’t want to make their real names public, so the Vice writer who spoke to the thrill-seekers dubbed them Leonardo, Raphael, and Donatello, while the fourth declined the interview request.
Here are some highlights from their chat.
Raphael: We haven’t really told anyone about it… OK, the strangest thing to me was the little boy in pajamas sitting on the moon logo, everywhere. Like, it amazes me how much it resembles the DreamWorks logo. That thing was painted on the ground, like, 60 feet wide. It was on the signs, on the bumper cars, it was on the coach station where they parked the coach, one on the ground.
Donatello: The other thing was that he collected memorabilia that had his likeness on it. He had Pepsi bottles and books and other promotional material in boxes. He also had stacks and stacks of fan mail, and one piece that really grabbed me was the prosecuting attorney of his molestation case with devil’s horns drawn on. That was just laying on a tabletop—maybe a Pac-Man table?
Raphael: One thing that really sticks out in my memory was drinking his grape soda from that walk-in kitchen storage area and then very carefully wiping the fingerprints off the bottle and hiding it in the bushes.
Raphael: That menu, on a permanently-printed chalkboard with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and macaroni and cheese, that sticks out in my mind. And the strange hodgepodge of shit that he had bought that didn’t have any relation to his house. His entire house was filled with these expensive looking, one-off, semi-artistic things.
Donatello: One other interesting thing—we did go in Michael’s room, but both of the kids’ rooms were locked from the outside.
Raphael: We decided not to get into the kids’ rooms, because it didn’t seem right.
The photographers say there about ten rooms in the mansion, and they visited all of them, expect the petting zoo, “because it’s so far away.” Also because the Ghost of Bubbles haunts unwanted visitors there. You can check out the rest of the interview, and the creepy photos, over at Vice.