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Grace Rwaramba

Grace Rwaramba

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A battle for the custody of Michael Jackson's three children began brewing between the children's nanny and grandmother just hours after the pop singer was pronounced dead Thursday, according to a Jackson biographer and family friend.

Michael Jackson walks with kids Prince and Paris through a studio parking lot in Los Angeles.

(Splash News)More Photos The children, who when previously seen in public, were always at their father's side, regularly wearing pint-sized versions of Jackson's trademark surgical mask, or shrouds over their heads to conceal their identities.

As Jackson's behavior became increasingly bizarre over the years, public scrutiny focused on the children, particularly after Jackson dangled his infant son from a hotel balcony, and allegations surfaced that the singer had molested other children.

RelatedMichael Jackson, King of Pop, Dead at 50 WATCH: Michael Jackson Dead at 50 PHOTOS: Michael Jackson Through the Years Jackson was often criticized for treating his children like accessories, human additions to a menagerie that included a chimpanzee and a boa constrictor.

Despite thousands of photos taken by the paparazzi and fans over years, the faces of the Jackson children have only been seen publicly a handful of times.

Police have not yet confirmed if the children were at home with Jackson Thursday when he collapsed following a cardiac arrest.

"Michael's mother Katherine wants the kids," said Stacey Brown, co- author of "Michael Jackson Behind the Mask" and an old family friend.

"But Michael always said he wants Grace, the nanny, to have them if something happened to him." Grace, is Grace Rwaramba, 42, who has worked for Jackson for nearly two decades, starting as an office assistant who handled insurance for his employees.

Over time, observers say Rwaramba has taken an increasingly central role in lives of Jackson and his children.

The two were rumored to be considering marriage in 2006.

In 2008 she testified in Jackson's defense during a breach-of-contract trial brought by a Middle Eastern sheik against the singer.

Who will take possession of the children is the latest in a series of questions that have surrounded Jackson's children -- regarding their conception, paternity and the way in which their father has raised them, since his first son's birth in 1997.
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