By Melissa Fossum
By Lauren Wise
By New Times
By Amanda Savage
By Jason P. Woodbury
By Troy Farah
By New Times
That's what Sedona healer Reinalda de Souza wants the world to glean from the untimely demise of Michael Jackson. She especially wants the famous and wealthy individuals who beat a path to her door seeking a cure for their mental, spiritual, and physical ailments to get the message.
"I am not a woman to be trifled with," says the short, charismatic woman, slapping the wooden table in the kitchen of her rambling, cliff-side dwelling for emphasis. "I haven't traveled thousands of miles and studied on four continents just give my expertise away for free."
She stops for a moment, her long hair thrown back, her face ablaze in the evening sunlight that's bouncing off the famous red rocks nearby, filling the room with a Martian glow.
"The rich in America," she scoffs in an odd, foreign accent difficult to place until you know more about her. "They want everything for free. They'd better learn. The arts I employ to heal them can be used as readily to destroy."
Suddenly, her face softens and she studies her visitor intently.
"Would you care for some hot tea, dear?" asks De Souza. Without waiting for an answer, she begins to fuss with a teapot, talking to herself under her breath. A golden-brown Abyssinian feline hops up on the tabletop, parades around the rough-hewn edge and meows curiously.
"Be polite to our guest, Sofia. He's going to write about us," De Souza informs the cat, who is licking her fur, cocking her head up occasionally, as if she's heard a sparrow or mouse she needs to investigate.
"Sofia's a great scorpion-killer. I don't know what I'd do without her up here," De Souza chirps in that accent, which she later reveals is Brazilian Portuguese. She then asks, "Would you like to drink out of the cup Jacko used? He preferred St. John's wort for his depression. I could have cured him of that, too, if he would've let me."
She brings forth a set of bone china with a pattern of gold leaf and sets down a cup and saucer. On the rim of the cup, the faded red imprint of someone's lipstick can clearly be seen. Her visitor looks up.
"Yes, the lipstick," she sighs. "It belonged to that horrible creature. He wore lipstick all the time. And face powder. Like a male prostitute. I haven't washed it, for obvious reasons."
As if she had only been kidding about allowing Jackson's cup to be used again, she gets up and goes back to her cupboard to fetch a clean cup for her visitor. She fills it with her own "special blend" of green tea.
The "obvious reasons," De Souza explains later, are that she plans to cash in and recoup some of her losses in dealing with Jackson by selling artifacts from their encounters — things he touched or was touched by, physically.
De Souza is an expert in all sorts of alternative medicine; diplomas from far-flung centers of learning in Tokyo, Shanghai, and Mumbai paper her hallways. Among her degrees is a doctorate in traditional Chinese medicine.
She first encountered Jackson in the Kingdom of Bahrain. He had fled the United States to live at the home of his friend Sheikh Abdullah bin Isa Al-Khalifa, Prince of Bahrain, after he was acquitted of child molestation in a 2005 trial in Santa Maria, California.
In Bahrain to attend an international seminar on the benefits of reiki healing — the Japanese science of "laying on of hands," which helps direct a person's "life force energy" — De Souza and Jackson met at a gathering of Bahranian royalty on the island nation. Sensing Jackson was in great pain, she gave him her card with her secluded Sedona address, suggesting that she could be of help to him if he were ever in Arizona. Months later, Jackson appeared at her doorway, asking if she could heal a heart malady, a result of his ongoing battle with lupus. Later, he confessed that he also wanted her to cure him of his obsession with prepubescent boys.
Jackson was a frequent guest at Dr. De Souza's home, which doubles as her clinic. She made him her primary patient, using her expertise in lithotherapy, the use of stones, crystals, and minerals for their healing properties. Jackson bathed in tubs filled with agate, garnet, and aventurine. He drank potent mixtures of distilled water mixed with emerald dust, and pasteurized goat milk chilled with round stones of lapis lazuli. He grew stronger under De Souza's care, until the doctor asked for the unusual payment Jackson had promised her — the skeleton of Joseph Merrick, the Elephant Man, which Jackson reportedly owned.
"If he'd kept his word to me, he would be alive today," snorted De Souza, sipping her tea. "The cretin thought he could backstab me after I'd devoted so much energy to curing him.
"They think someone pumped him full of Demerol," she spat, her rage building. "It was a curse I learned long ago in São Paulo [Brazil] that stopped his heart. As soon as your story hits the street, the whole world will know that I — Dr. Reinalda de Souza — killed Jacko!"