An alleged extortion attempt against John Travolta, the Scientology-believing Hairspray star whose teenage son Jett died January 2 in the Bahamas, is drawing a wider investigation. The FBI is now looking into the case.
Previously, Bahamian officials had taken three people in for questioning about the case: Obie Wilchcombe, a former tourism minister who was close to the Travolta family; Tarino Lightbourne, an ambulance driver who was part of the crew who took the dying Jett to a hospital; and Pleasant Bridgewater, a local politician and lawyer who represents Lightbourne.
Wilchcombe, meanwhile, says his only involvement was trying to warn the Travolta family of the extortion attempt, which seems to center around either a photo Lightbourne took in the ambulance or other information he gathered about Jett's appearance as he lay dying. The official cause of death was listed as a seizure, a condition to which Jett was prone. His parents attributed his seizures to exposure to cleaning chemicals. Many observers believe, however, that Jett suffered from autism, a disorder which often coincides with seizures. Travolta and his wife, actress, Kelly Preston, are devout Scientologists. Members of that cult believe conditions like autism are psychosomatic and can be cured through sometimes dangerous religious rituals.
The involvement of an American spy agency in a Bahamian police investigation only adds to the air of mystery around Jett Travolta's death. Lightbourne has entered a plea of not guilty. The question of what he claims to know, and why that claim so disturbed Travoltas' lawyers, lingers.