Tito Jackson's Sons Describe Day Their Mother Died as 'a Nightmare': 'It's Like a Kid's Worst Memory'
TJ, Taj and Taryll Jackson remember vividly the moment their mother, Delores “Dee Dee” Jackson, died in August 1994.
The sons of Tito Jackson, 63, told ABC News’ 20/20 Thursday that their mother died before they could reach the hospital.
“I just had a sixth sense in my head, as if I knew already it was terrible and I knew already that my mother wasn’t with us,” TJ said. “It was just a nightmare. It’s like a kid’s worst memory.”
Dee Dee, 39, was found in the pool of her boyfriend Don Bohana in his Ladera Heights, California, home.
Four years after her death in 1998, Bohana was found guilty of second-degree murder in Dee Dee’s death and was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.
He’s spent 19 years in a California prison.
Michael Jackson’s brother told 20/20 his ex-wife’s death was the “coldest day of our lives.”
“[His sons] said, ‘Mom is dead,'” Tito said. “It was just a sad moment, you know. It was just horrifying.”
Tito and Dee Dee were students at Fairfax High School in Los Angeles where they met. They married after they graduated in 1972, but divorced in 1993.
After her untimely death, the Jacksons immediately questioned how she died, saying she was terrified of water.
“My first question was, ‘Drown?’ What was she doing in the water?” Tito said. “You know, ’cause Dee Dee and I, neither of us swam.”
Taj agreed, adding, “That didn’t line up with anything that we believed in knowing our mom and knowing how much she feared the pool.”
Tito revealed he remembered “bruises and the damage” on her body made him suspect there had been a fight, saying, “It points to a murder to me, in the first degree.”
The Jacksons said they believed a dispute over money led to Dee Dee’s death, alleging Bohana killed her in a rage after she refused to help him.
“She was a Jackson and that’s what he knew,” Tito said. Bohana, now in his 80s, has since denied that he killed her, saying she was comfortable swimming in his pool.
Bohana has been denied parole four times, with Dee Dee’s sons opposing his release each time. TJ told 20/20 he would no longer object to his parole at this next hearing.
“I basically made a statement to the parole judge, ‘If you feel it’s time for him to get out, then let him out,” he said.
Whether Bohana is released or not, the Jackson’s will continue to remember their mother, continuing her legacy through the Dee Dee Jackson Foundation and conducting music therapy classes across the country to manage their grief.
“To this day, I’m learning how to deal with it,” TJ said. “But the pain is still there.”
The full interview airs Friday, Sept. 15 at 10 p.m. ET on ABC.