E! News has learned exclusively how the star's body disappeared from the giant venue undetected by the media…and all it took was an underground tunnel!
A source tells E! News that after the service, security moved the golden casket through an underground tunnel that connects the Staples Center to the Nokia Theatre. The tunnel—typically used by maintenance and food service workers and occasionally talent—runs beneath Chick Hearn Court, where hundreds of media were encamped following the ceremony.
La Toya, Rebbie and Janet Jackson used the secret passageway when they went across the street to thank the fans at the Nokia Theatre.
M.J.'s body was loaded into a van at an L.A. Live loading dock and was transported to refrigerated mortuary storage at an undisclosed location.
Neither Jackson's rep nor AEG's has commented.
The tunnel itself earned a mention in Variety just before the venue opened in 2007.
"There is a tunnel between Staples Center and the Nokia that creates the opportunity for an artist to sing the national anthem before a sporting event and then walk across the way backstage. Plans also call for a tunnel from the hotels to the backstage area, allowing a performer to commute to a show on foot."
Unfortunately, the bigger mystery of where the King of Pop's remains currently reside is still just that—a mystery.
(Originally published on July 9, 2009, at 9:35 a.m. PT)