By Alex Dobuzinskis
LOS ANGELES (Reuters) – The remains of radio personality Casey Kasem have been moved from a Washington state funeral home, against the wishes of three of his adult children, a spokesman for the siblings said on Friday.
Kasem, the former host of the syndicated program “American Top 40” who died on June 15 at age 82, had been the focus of a dispute between his three children from his first marriage and his second wife, Jean Kasem.
PHOTOS: Casey Kasem through the years
They said she had prevented them from visiting him as he suffered from Lewy body dementia, a malady with symptoms similar to Parkinson’s disease.
As his health deteriorated, a Los Angeles judge sided with the children and permitted them to withhold food, hydration and his usual medication as they chose comfort-oriented, end-of-life care at a Washington state hospital.
Since then, Kasem’s children Kerri, Julie and Mike have learned his body was removed from Gaffney Funeral Home in Tacoma, Washington, against their wishes, said Danny Deraney, a spokesman for the siblings. Casey Kasem had wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, Deraney said.
The three children believe Jean Kasem, who had legal rights over the body, arranged to have it moved but they do not know where it is, Deraney said.
“They’re so used to this behavior from her over time, it’s almost like they saw this coming,” Deraney said.
A Washington state judge on Wednesday forbade movement of the body from the funeral home, according to the New York Daily News. The order was based on a request by Kerri Kasem to have an autopsy conducted on Kasem to investigate suspicions of elder abuse, Deraney said.
An attorney for Jean Kasem, who married Casey Kasem in 1980, did not return a call or email.
Candace Corkum, administrative manager for Gaffney Funeral Home, confirmed Kasem’s body was no longer at the facility. Final disposition of the remains happened before the Washington state judge’s order on Wednesday, Corkum said, but she declined to say what happened to the body.
Kerri Kasem, a radio host, told the New York Daily News she believed Jean Kasem took her father’s body out of the country.
Casey Kasem at the peak of his career on “American Top 40” was heard on more than 1,000 stations in 50 countries. He was famed for his tenor voice, and also played the part of Shaggy, the mystery-solving human pal of a Great Dane in the TV cartoon series “Scooby Doo, Where Are You!”
(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Eric Walsh and Robert Birsel)