Casey Kasem rose to fame as the founder and host of American Top 40. His voice reportedly once reached 8 million listeners in 17 countries. It also gave life to Shaggy Rogers on Scooby-Doo: Where Are You!
The radio icon had a massive estate and a beautiful home, but the deep rift in his family became apparent when his health began to fail.
His second wife and children from his first marriage argued over his medical care. She barred them from seeing their father, and the feud spawned a massive legal battle and investigation into Casey’s death.
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The Medical Battle
Casey Kasem diagnosed with Lewy body dementia in 2007, a severe disease that resembles Parkinson’s. The resulting battle over his medical care is almost too complex and meandering to comprehend. It’s a tale of family drama, lies, and even lost bodies.
Jean was Casey’s second wife who he allegedly met when she was the receptionist at his agent’s office. They married at the Hotel Bel-Air in December 1980 and had one daughter together named Liberty.
Casey’s children from his first marriage, Kerri, Julie, and Michael, disliked their stepmother from the start. Firey arguments over Casey’s medical care began when she stopped them from visiting him.
The children saw their father in December 2013 but, after that, Jean refused to tell them where he was. They became worried and filed for conservatorship on May 6, 2014. TMZ eventually told Julie where he was, and they got a federal statute to enter his room at Berkley East Convalescence Hospital in Santa Monica. They were able to share a tender moment before the battle got even worse
Jean and Liberty allegedly went to the hospital on May 7, 2014, and expressed their displeasure that Casey’s other daughters had allowed to see him the day before. Jean claimed the facility offered no privacy for her husband and took him to another facility.
The nurses warned that moving Casey could dislodge his feeding tube and be deadly. Jean and Liberty ignored these warnings and moved him anyway. Watch our video to learn why Casey Kasem’s family is still battling over his death.
Casey stayed with Jean, Liberty, and 2 caregivers at the Vdara Hotel & Spa. She claims it was a way to help him escape Kerri’s “theatrical antics.”
Casey went unexamined for almost a week. He charted a jet to Seattle on May 13 but, by then, his condition was worse than ever. Casey was malnourished because Jean was allegedly feeding him by pouring Ensure into his feeding tube. He also had a large bedsore and a urinary tract infection.
When they arrived in Seattle, Casey, Jean, and Liberty met an ambulance on the tarmac. The driver who greeted them appalled at Casey’s condition. He called adult protective services when he learned they weren’t going to the hospital after all.
The children kept from their father for weeks after that. Kerri went to see her dad on June 1 after he arrived in L.A, but there was one significant obstacle in her way. The house where he was staying heavily guarded. Jean wouldn’t allow anyone in and insisted that no one release any pictures of Casey to the press.
Jean claimed to be protecting her husband’s privacy, but she allegedly held a press conference soon after. She publicly played recordings of Casey moaning and claimed his distress was caused by the family drama. Kerri painted a more plausible picture; he was in pain from the massive bedsore he’d developed.
After the press conference, the family began to make an even more massive scene. They began holding up signs, throwing things, and shouting at each other. It was a permanent blot on the radio icon’s legacy.
Casey eventually moved to St. Anthony Hospital in Seattle, but his condition had already deteriorated by then. The family gathered around him for weeks, but Jean and Liberty only visited once. Court-appointed attorneys tried to determine what his wishes for his end-of-life care were, but there were several conflicting documents.
Kerri granted conservatorship of her father, so she was able to decide to remove his life support systems. He no longer had a feeding tube or breathing apparatus but given morphine to reduce his pain.
Casey’s final radio broadcast was on July 4, 2009. Even though his family was falling apart around him, he managed to maintain a positive attitude for his fans during this last message. Watch our video to learn why Casey Kasem’s family is still battling over his death.
Investigating Casey’s Death
Casey Kasem died surrounded by his 3 oldest children and brother on June 15, 2014. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his last days spawned a full-on investigation.
His children began efforts to assess his condition and look for signs of neglect before their father declared dead. They became concerned the moment Jean stopped them from visiting him. Kerri even hired a private eye named Logan Clark. He has investigating Casey’s death and hopes Jean will arrested for elder abuse.
Casey’s children asked for an autopsy on Casey’s body to support their claims. It couldn’t conducted because Jean exercised her legal right as his spouse to move his body. No one knew where his remains were for some time.
Logan was the one who cracked this detail of the case. He found a death certificate filed on June 15. It showed Casey’s body preserved in ice and sent to Montreal. That at least gave him a new place to look, and it proved to be one of the most important details in the case.
Casey’s true resting place eventually discovered. He’s buried in an unmarked grave in Norway. Jean claims he had already planned to move there in honor of his Norweigan roots and that, despite never visiting, he always felt it “symbolizes peace and looks like heaven.”
The children say the decision to move the body made out of spite to keep them from visiting their father’s grave. Logan Clark says it was an attempt by Jean to hide the marks of abuse on her husband’s body. Watch our video to learn why Casey Kasem’s family is still battling over his death.
Casey’s children worked for months to get permission to bring their father’s body home to America Kerri wrote a letter to Norwegian officials asking them not to bury the body there. He wanted to be buried near his home of 53 years in the Forest Lawn cemetery in L.A. The letter was signed by 30 of Casey’s family and friends, and they also sent a petition with 30,000 signatures.
Members on both sides of the Kasem family rift would agree with Logan Clark that the case isn’t closed. They need more proof that one party didn’t cause or accelerate his death, which is why they took the matter to court.
Like and subscribe for more on the life and death of the world’s greatest radio icons. Keep watching to learn about the legal battle between the two sides of the Kasem family and how they’re working to keep Casey’s legacy alive.
The Legal Battle
The animosity amongst the Kasem family has been present for decades. It boiled over into a legal battle after Casey’s death. Each side accuses the other of murdering the beloved radio icon.
The family’s legal battle was epic and expensive. Jean reportedly hired at least 13 lawyers and paid them at least $650,000 in fees the year after her husband’s death.
The children filed a wrongful death lawsuit against their mother. They claim that Jean’s decision to move Casey from a rehab facility in Santa Monica to a friend’s home in Washington killed him.
Jean didn’t take these allegations lying down. She countersued and pushed the blame onto his children (other than LIberty, who seemed to always agree with her mother). The two said that Kerri, Michael, and Julie tricked Casey into signing over his power of attorney to them. They claim that they forced him to return to the hospital in Washington where he died. They also claim he wouldn’t have agreed with his children’s decision to remove his life support devices.
The court battle was about more than who killed Casey; it also had a great deal to do with his money. The family also fought over who should get the money from Casey’s $4 million life insurance policy. They were all listed as beneficiaries but, as expected, couldn’t agree on how the money should be distributed.
Both sides say that the other side only ever cared about Casey’s money. His estate is worth $80-$100 million, making it a tempting prize for anyone.
The feud even became the subject of an episode of 48 hours. Consultant Van Sant said that he’d “never seen such hatred within a family.”
Both lawsuits were eventually settled in 2019, but the terms of the settlements were never revealed. Although this brings an end to the legal side of things, it may not be enough to stop the fiery Kasem family feud.
Keeping Casey’s Legacy Alive
The Kasem family has taken time out of their feuding and investigations to make positive changes after Casey’s death. Kerri founded an organization called Kasem Cares to help other adult children who are kept from visiting or communicating with ailing family members.
The family isn’t done talking about the circumstances surrounding Casey’s death, either. AYM Media is set to release a podcast called Bitter Blood: Kasem vs. Kasem.
The series will narrated by Martin Kove, a close family friend. Kerri Kasem will serve as the executive producer.
Bitter Blood will released in 8 episodes exclusively on the Audible platform. They’ll be available starting on June 15, which is both the anniversary of Casey’s death and Elder Abuse Awareness Day.
Kerri says the podcast will include “everything the public would have heard if we had a trial.” This includes eyewitness accounts and depositions from doctors and caretakers. Family friend Mike Curb and Casey’s radio protege Ryan Seacrest will also speak.
Casey Kasem had one of the most familiar voices in the entire medium of radio. He deserves to be remembered for his work rather than family drama, and one day the truth about his death will hopefully be revealed.
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