Santa Maria, Calif. - Ever since he was a youngster, Rudy Millstein has kept turtles and tortoises as pets. His fondness for Chelonia - especially the desert tortoises - is renown across the American Southwest, where Rudy spends his time observing and collecting specimens for himself and for zoos around the world. His notoriety though attracted the wrong attention in June of 1996 and as a result, Millstein found himself testifying in the trial of pop star Michael Jackson.
According to Mr. Millstein's testimony, representatives of Mr. Jackson contacted him in the early summer of 1996. They explained that Mr. Jackson had seen some unusual turtles on the grounds of the Neverland Ranch and hoped that Mr. Millstein would be willing to come to the ranch to identify them.
On or about June 17th 1996, Mr. Millstein arrived at the ranch, accompanied by Dr. Michael J. Connor, the executive director of the Desert Tortoise Protection Committee. Upon their arrival, stated Mr. Millstein, both men noted that the grounds of the ranch were festooned with large turtle banners and inflated ersatz turtles. Both men, according to Mr. Millstein, initially took this as a sign of support and enthusiasm on the part of Mr. Jackson.
This assumption was dashed when they were ushered into Mr. Jackson's newly created "turtle lab." There they found the "King of Pop" dressed as a turtle and slowly crawling about on the floor. The stunned guests asked for an explanation but Mr. Jackson appeared to be unable to understand, or respond to, their questions.
An associate of Mr. Jackson, whose name Mr. Millstein could not recall, explained that Mr. Jackson had become convinced that he was in fact a turtle. Before his "transformation" was complete, he had asked that Messrs. Millstein and Connor be called to the ranch to assist with a special project. Mr. Jackson's associate invited the two men to sit at a small table and handed them a sealed envelope.
The envelop contained a letter from Mr. Jackson that outlined his situation and included instructions for the two men. In the letter, Mr. Jackson explained that a turtle had come to him in a dream. During the dream, Mr. Jackson and the turtle had intimate contact and that as a result, Mr. Jackson was being transformed into a turtle.
According to the letter, this process could only be reversed if Mr. Jackson had intimate contact with a turtle outside of the "dreamworld". He went on to ask - in highly excitable language according to Mr. Millstein's recollection - that Messrs. Millstein and Connor locate an appropriate turtle for Mr. Jackson's clearly immoral purposes.
"We both, of course, refused," Mr. Millstein said at the conclusion of his testimony, "and left the ranch chagrined and shocked by Mr. Jackson's unnatural request."
Given that Mr. Jackson is not a turtle, it can be assumed that he was somehow successful at reversing the turtle transformation.