Casey Kasem’s body missing from funeral home, daughter’s rep says
Casey Kasem’s body is no longer at the Washington state funeral home that had been keeping it, a rep for the radio icon’s eldest daughter said Friday.
The situation is “pure insanity,” rep Danny Deraney told the Los Angeles Times, confirming that the body was not at the funeral home where it had been held. “It’s sad that it’s gotten to this point.”
A judge awarded daughter Kerri Kasem a temporary restraining order Wednesday preventing her dad’s second wife, Jean Kasem, from cremating or removing the remains from the funeral home pending a decision about who could conduct a possible autopsy, the Associated Press reported Friday.
However, Jean Kasem had already filled out a death certificate indicating that the body should be transferred to a funeral home in Montreal, the AP reported, noting that on Friday the Canadian funeral home said the radio host’s body was not there, nor was his name in its system.
When news broke Thursday that the “American Top 40” host remained unburied more than a month after his June 15 death, Deraney said the three eldest Kasem kids -- Julie and Mike are the other two from Kasem’s first marriage -- had accepted that Jean Kasem had authority over the body and that they didn’t intend to battle in court over his burial.
He said Kerri, Julie and Mike were “at peace” after holding a memorial in the days after their father’s death but hoped he’d ultimately be buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, per his wishes.
However, Kerri Kasem petitioned a Washington court Wednesday for the temporary restraining order after she learned that Jean Kasem intended to have an autopsy conducted on the body and wondered why that would be done, the AP said.
“I’m concerned about the results of any autopsy Jean Kasem may have commissioned and how they might be used,” Kerri Kasem wrote in court papers obtained by the AP. “Consequently, I thought it would be best to ask the Washington court to allow me to have an autopsy conducted by a forensic pathologist of my own selection.”
A lawyer for Kerri Kasem told the AP he’d learned the body had been moved when he went to deliver the restraining order to the funeral home in Tacoma, Wash.
The three eldest Kasem children had filed an elder-abuse complaint with the Santa Monica Police Department around the time of Casey Kasem’s June 15 death. Any autopsy results might wind up a part of that investigation, believed to be ongoing. A police spokesman did not immediately reply to a Los Angeles Times request for comment.
Corey Gaffney of Gaffney Funeral Home in Tacoma told “Access Hollywood” on Friday that the body had not been in his care for at least two days.
“We can confirm that he is no longer in our care and that we carried out final disposition per the Death Certificate,” Gaffney said in an e-mail to The Times.
In Washington state, a surviving spouse trumps a majority of surviving children of the deceased when it comes to disposition of remains.
The New York Daily News, which spoke to Kerri Kasem on Friday and said it had obtained the death certificate, reported that Jean Kasem’s arrangements for her late husband’s remains to be sent to the Urgel Bourgie Funeral Home were made before the judge’s order came down.
“My dad has nothing to do with Canada. He lived in Los Angeles for 45 years,” Kerri Kasem told the New York paper. “It just once again proves that my stepmother is not acting in my father’s best interest or respecting his wishes.”
Casey Kasem died June 15 at age 82 after battling Lewy body dementia. In mid-May, Kerri, Julie and Mike Kasem had filed a missing persons report with Santa Monica police when they couldn’t locate their dad, sparking the first “Casey Kasem is missing” headlines and drawing even more attention to a long-running family dispute.
At the time, Kerri Kasem was fighting Jean Kasem over access to her father and control of his care. Jean Kasem’s attorney told a judge that he had no idea where Casey was, adding to the kids’ concern. It turned out Jean Kasem had taken her husband from his nursing home and gone to the home of friends in Washington’s Kitsap County.
An attorney for Jean Kasem did not immediately reply to a request for comment.
A hearing on the autopsy petition was scheduled for July 25.
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