John Travolta and his wife Kelly stood vigil for four hours over the body of their 16-year-old son Jett on the tiny island of Grand Bahama.
The poignant scene was described by neighbour and family friend Obie Wilchcombe, who said: ‘They didn’t want to leave.’
The teenager’s premature death from an epileptic fit last weekend was as unexpected as it was tragic.
Although Jett had suffered serious health problems since early childhood, the Hollywood actor believed his son would be as well cared for on a New Year’s vacation in the Bahamas as he always had been.
Jett’s suite at the family’s seafront holiday home was specially designed for him, and two carers were due to tend to his needs 24 hours a day. But although the cause of the teenager’s death is not in dispute, the police files on the case remain open amid a welter of conflicting information about the nature of Jett’s illness, its treatment and the timing and circumstances surrounding his death.
Central to the picture is the role of the boy’s 29-year-old male ‘nanny’ Jeff Kathrein, a man who caused raised eyebrows a few years ago when he was seen being kissed on the lips and hugged by Travolta on the steps of a private plane.
Although Kathrein appears to have been given a key role in Jett’s wellbeing, he seems only to have been referred to as nanny from last weekend. By profession he is a wedding photographer, and was one of the last people to see Jett alive.
Intriguingly, The Mail on Sunday has learned that accounts from police and family friends differ from the ‘official’ version put forward by those who claim to speak for Travolta, 54, and his wife, the 46-year-old actress Kelly Preston.
Jett’s death certificate issued by the Bahamas authorities lists the cause of death as ‘seizure disorder’ - another name for epilepsy. But some questions about the boy’s last moments remain unanswered, such as exactly when he suffered the fit, how long he lay sprawled on a bathroom floor, what injuries he suffered and who first went to his assistance.
There is also an issue over whether Jett suffered, as many suspect, from severe autism and what role his parents’ devout adherence to Scientology may have played in his treatment.
What is clear is that the Travolta family spent Christmas at their £3.5million mansion on Isleboro, an island off the coast of Maine, New England.
Then on Tuesday, December 30, Travolta, piloting his Boeing 707 airliner, flew his family to Grand Bahama in the Caribbean to celebrate the New Year.
Travolta, Kelly, Jett and his eight-year-old sister Ella Bleu arrived on Grand Bahama that evening and drove to the family’s spacious, lemon-washed villa, which has stunning views over a marina.
They were due to be joined a few days later - at Travolta’s expense - by 49 staff, friends and their children.
As was customary, Jett occupied a downstairs suite in the villa. Travolta and Kelly shared the master bedroom upstairs next to Ella Bleu’s bedroom. Jett’s two nannies, Kathrein and a man identified only as Eli, shared a ground-floor suite that connected to Jett’s room.
Late that first evening, Travolta took Jett for a ride around the villa’s grounds in a golf cart. The following day - Wednesday, New Year’s Eve - the Travoltas and some of the staff went to the beach and had a quiet meal with friends who live on the island.
On New Year’s Day, the group had a lazy morning before an afternoon boat ride. When they returned, Travolta said good night to his son at about 6pm and Jett retired to his bedroom. Next day he was found dead.
The police report states that Kathrein informed them he had been watching television in the suite next to Jett’s and that the nannies (they don’t make it clear whether it was Eli or Kathrein) last saw the boy at about 11.30pm.
According to the police, Jett may have been left unattended for more than ten hours.
A police spokesman said: ‘We stand by our initial report but we cannot make any further comment about the discrepancies between our report and other versions of the event that have been put out there because the investigation is on-going.’
Another version of events was released over the following 48 hours by Travolta’s lawyers Michael Ossi and Michael McDermott. They said Jett - who regularly slept for up to 16 hours a day - was closely and constantly monitored by Kathrein, who is married and a devout Scientologist, and Eli.
The lawyers said the boy’s bedroom was equipped with a baby monitor and a chime that sounded every time he went to the adjoining bathroom.
Furthermore, the lawyers - who were both on the island as guests of the
Travoltas - insist Jett was alive and well until ‘very shortly’ before Kathrein discovered him crumpled on the floor of his bathroom at about 10am on Friday, January 2.
Ossi told reporters that Kathrein performed cardiac massage in an attempt to resuscitate Jett and acknowledged that Jett had a history of seizures.
McDermott added: ‘Jett was not left alone. He had a nanny present at all times. Short of holding [Jett’s] hand 24/7, they had everything in place.’
The two lawyers said Travolta had heard Kathrein’s screams on discovering the prone Jett, rushed to his suite and took over the resuscitation attempts until paramedics arrived.
‘Jett may have died in his dad’s arms,’ the lawyers said in a joint statement. ‘We’d like to believe John had a chance to say goodbye.’
It is unclear where Kelly was while the drama unfolded. In the lawyer’s version of events, she is not mentioned until Jett reaches hospital.
The discrepancies in the accounts raise questions about what possible motive the family would have for obscuring any details of Jett’s death.
Of course, the Travoltas have always fiercely guarded their privacy, both because of their devotion to Scientology and because of the long-term health problems of Jett, who they have long maintained was damaged by Kawasaki Syndrome, a rare circulatory problem that is seldom fatal and affects only infants.
They have repeatedly rejected the observations from a variety of experts who believe Jett suffered from autism. His clumsiness, inability to speak and tendency to walk on tip-toe are said to be classic symptoms of autism - which is also often associated with epileptic seizures.
The day after Jett died, another lawyer travelling with the Travoltas admitted that Jett suffered seizures as regularly as every four days. But he insisted that the Travoltas had not ignored the problem and Jett had been treated in the past with an anti-seizure medication, Depakote.
He said medication had been stopped several years ago because it had ‘ceased to work’ and Kelly feared it might be damaging Jett’s liver.
An Isleboro neighbour of John Travolta last night said the actor was a devoted father: ‘Jett was his life. John was devoted to him. He would spend hours with him watching television. John would go for walks around the estate with Jett, always with his arm around Jett’s shoulder.
'Sometimes he would take the boy down to their private stretch of beach. But he would never take him out in public.
‘They had a 24-hour nanny for him. He was never left alone. He was never left unsupervised. He needed full-time care.’
The tragic events on Grand Bahama turn the spotlight on Kathrein and his role in the Travolta family’s life.
When the photograph of him kissing Travolta on the lips was published around the world in 2006, Travolta’s highly paid PR men instantly retorted that the star’s wife was on the plane, that Kathrein was married and that Travolta always kissed friends goodbye in that way.
It was a particularly testy response from an actor who has long been dogged by rumours of homosexuality. Several years ago a former gay porn star, Paul Barresi, claimed he had enjoyed a lengthy affair with the actor, only to later recant the accusation.
Travolta has always described rumours that he is anything other than a happily married heterosexual male as ‘stupid and ludicrous’.
A friend of the actor explained Travolta’s friendship with Kathrein, saying: ‘Jeff has known John for years. I think they met through Scientology. Jeff always travels with John and then when Jeff met his wife Ana, she started travelling with John and Kelly too. But I never heard Jeff referred to as a nanny until Jett’s death.’
Kathrein's website reveals that he and Ana, who is pregnant with their first child, run a wedding photography business in Clearwater, Florida, the home of the American headquarters of Scientology.
It appears he enjoyed the absolute trust and confidence of the Hollywood star. And he was the man who, according to the lawyers, would have been listening - if he had been on a formal shift - to the baby monitors.
According to one long-term friend of Travolta, it is out of the question that Jett could have lain unnoticed overnight on the bathroom floor. He said: ‘Jett was 6ft 2in and weighed nearly 18 stone. Even if everybody was asleep, surely someone would have heard him fall.’
If there are questions about the hours before Jett was found, there is no doubt that every effort was made to save him.
One of the most dramatic accounts comes from paramedic Marcus Garvey, who was in charge of the three-person emergency medical team dispatched from the island’s capital Freeport, 26 miles and 45 minutes away by a twisting island road from the Travolta villa.
Garvey said that when he arrived at the villa, a local doctor - who has not been identified - was performing cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) while Travolta and his wife looked on helplessly.
He said Jett had been moved from the bathroom into the villa’s hallway and had a large swelling on his forehead.
Garvey said: ‘We had been told he had fallen, hit his head and had a fit and was unconscious. The doctor told me he thought he’d had something like an epileptic fit and that he had a history of seizures.
‘John and Kelly were standing over him like they were in a daze. John was shaking. Kelly was crying and trying to comfort him. I took over from the doctor.’
Jett was worked on for 25 minutes at the scene. Later, as paramedics loaded him into an ambulance, they asked the Travoltas to follow. Garvey said: ‘John cried, “No! No! I’m coming with my son.’’
'John was holding his hand in the ambulance saying, “Come on Jett, come around.’’
'Kelly was tenderly rubbing Jett’s hand and saying, “Come on baby, come on Jett.”’
At the hospital, Jett was put on life support while his parents waited in an anteroom. When all attempts to revive him failed, the body was moved to the hospital morgue where Kelly and John said their goodbyes.
The final mystery surrounds the injuries Jett suffered. Paramedics and police say there was a large bruise on his forehead. Glen Campbell, an assistant director at the funeral home that dealt with Jett’s cremation, denied there were any signs of head trauma and insisted Jett’s body was ‘in perfect condition’.
The Travoltas were today due to fly back to Maine, where they plan to spend time with Scientology friends, including former Cheers actress Kirsty Alley.
One Maine neighbour said last night: ‘The last time they were here at Christmas, I saw John walking in the grounds with his arm around Jett’s shoulder. Regardless of all the questions surrounding Jett’s death, the one thing that can’t be questioned was that John loved that boy with all his heart.’
Last night a spokesperson for the Travolta family said: ‘This is not something we are going to bother the Travoltas with right now as they’re mourning the loss of their son.’Intriguing questions about Scientologist nanny of John Travolta's son | Mail Online