Casey Kasem’s daughter wants to bring star’s body back from Norway, stepmother denies elder abuse allegations
Kerri Kasem locked in brutal dispute with dad’s widow
Casey Kasem’s children push for US burial
It’s been five years since Casey Kasem passed away in 2014 at age 82 — and the family war that ensued over the beloved patriarch is far from over.
First and foremost, Kerri Kasem, the daughter of the late disc jockey and “American Top 40” host, told Fox News she wants to bring his body back to the United States from Norway, where he was transferred and buried six months after his death at a hospital in Gig Harbor, Wash.
Kerri alleged that his widow, Jean Kasem, chose to bury her father halfway across the world during an ongoing heated dispute, while Kasem's widow explained the star "always said that Norway symbolizes peace and looks like heaven" and that she "would like to respectfully fulfill his wishes."
Jean Kasem and her daughter Liberty at Casey Kasem’s funeral in Oslo, Norway on Dec. 16, 2014. — Courtesy of Jean Kasem
“As soon as we win the trial that Jean has done everything to delay, I will get a lawyer in Norway and I will show them the court’s findings that she’s an elder abuser and she did my father wrong,” Kerri claimed. “She harmed him. Once I can show what was found in the American court, I will go to Norway and I will have his body brought back and buried [at Forest Lawn] where he wanted to be buried.”
In November 2018, Gig Harbor Police Chief Kelley Busey announced law enforcement found no evidence of wrongdoing after investigating allegations that Kasem’s relatives were responsible for his death. Busey shared he will forward the case to Pierce County prosecutors for review. The star had a form of dementia and severe bedsore when he died at a Gig Harbor hospital.
In this Oct. 27, 2003, file photo, Casey Kasem poses for photographers after receiving the Radio Icon award during The 2003 Radio Music Awards at the Aladdin Resort and Casino in Las Vegas.
(AP Photo/Eric Jamison)
According to Busey, the administrative investigation released by Gig Harbor Police found that Kasem received appropriate care and that any medical decisions were made by family authorized to act on his behalf. There was no evidence of collusion between the family members and doctors “that would construe any part of his incident to be considered a homicide."
Gig Harbor police opened their investigation in October 2018 after Jean submitted a private investigator’s report claiming three of Kasem’s children from a previous marriage, including Kerri, were responsible for his death.
Casey Kasem with his three adult children from a previous marriage. — Courtesy of Kerri Kasem
The former “Cheers” actress was married to the announcer for more than 30 years but was stripped of control over his medical care during his final days. The 65-year-old had contended her decision to move Kasem to Washington state was made to protect his privacy.
In 2014, Kerri, 46, formed the Kasem Cares Foundation, a nonprofit that aims to successfully pass bills in multiple states to stop elder abuse. According to the foundation, the Kasem Cares “Visitation Bill” has been passed in 12 states, while several others have adopted a version of it, totaling to 21.
“We are helping people who were in my situation,” the radio personality explained. “There’s a lot of people who don’t have hope. They don’t have the last name to get the recognition. And they don’t have the money to fight in court. We go state to state, putting in a bill that can help.”
Kerri Kasem told Fox News she formed the Kasem Cares foundation to help other families in need. — Courtesy of Kerri Kasem
“It will give them an avenue to ask for visitation for her loved ones,” she continued. “The reason why I didn’t name it the Casey Kasem Bill or the Casey Kasem Foundation is that I don’t want my dad to just be remembered for his tragic situation.”
Kasem’s final days were plagued with a public family feud, one that has continued after his death. People magazine reported the drama seemingly began in 2013, when Kerri, along with family members and more than a dozen of Kasem's closest friends, held signs outside of his Los Angeles mansion, demanding Jean to allow them access to him as he suffered from failing health.
Kerri Kasem claims her stepmother Jean Kasem isolated her father Casey Kasem from his family. (Photo by Valerie Macon/Getty Images)
At the time, Kerri and her siblings Mike and Julie alleged that their stepmother had been keeping them from seeing their father for more than three months.
“I didn’t like [the public scrutiny] for one reason," Kerri reflected. “My dad is a very private person… But all his friends were being blocked from him. None of the family members were able to get through including us kids. It just got worse and worse. At one point I had to do something.
Casey Kasem with his daughter Kerri Kasem. — Courtesy of Kerri Kasem
“I knew it would become public because my dad is extremely well known and people loved him. And we knew that no matter what we did, it was going to come out. That’s why I decided to protest… I called each and every single one of my dad’s [loved ones] and said, ‘Please stand with me.’ My father was completely and totally isolated from everyone he knew and loved.”
In a statement said to Fox News, Jean alleged Kerri’s quest to honor her father is far from noble.
“Casey and I were lovingly married for 34 years,” she wrote in a statement. "We have a daughter named Liberty. Casey’s adult children Kerri, Julie and Mike, from a prior marriage… grew up with their mother and have a deep seeded hatred towards me, who only financially supported them throughout their lives. When Kerri, Julie and Mike became involved with Scientology, Casey and I financially cut them off. They then attempted to frame me with a vicious character assassination campaign, seeking media attention to disseminate a false narrative and extort money from me.”
Disc jockey, TV personality and actor Casey Kasem and wife Jean Kasem attend the St. Jude Children’s Hospital Benefit Gala on August 30, 1986 at the Century Plaza Hotel in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Donaldson Collection/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images)
“Kerri and Julie also weaponized the Los Angeles Adult Protective Services and Police against me,” she alleged. “Both L.A. APS and LAPD found their allegations to be completely false. When the Kasem sisters filed their first Guardianship attempt of Casey in Los Angeles on October 7, 2013, their first request was to cease all life-sustaining measures for Casey, based on a suspect Durable Power of Attorney procured with undue influence in a UPS store in 2007, which they deceptively concealed for six years.
“The court found that I had the proper Advance Care Directive for my husband and that Casey was receiving ‘excellent care’ in the privacy of our family home,” she continued. “The first Guardianship attempt of Casey was ‘denied with prejudice’ and closed on January 14, 2014. The Kasem sisters filed a second Guardianship of Casey in Los Angeles on May 7, 2014. With the same systematic pattern of abuse, the Kasem sisters weaponized the Washington State Adult Protective Services and Sheriff’s Office against me, who also found the allegations to be completely false."
Liberty Jean Kasem, daughter of Casey and Jean Kasem, arrives at a court hearing at Kitsap County Courthouse on May 30, 2014 in Port Orchard, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images)
“The Kasem sisters then chased Casey, me and Liberty to Washington State, where they tricked a local Judge into taking Casey to a hospital for a supposed 'independent medical evaluation.' On June 1, 2014, once the Kasem sisters had Casey entrapped and chemically restrained, they had Liberty and me banned from the hospital, while they had already begun the process to terminate Casey’s life. I fought valiantly to save my husband from the homicidal Guardianship scheme. Casey was pronounced dead in Washington State on June 15, 2014.
“Appearing anything but grief-stricken, the Kasem sisters’ monetary motive became clear when they immediately filed a claim for a $2,100,000 life insurance policy, insuring Casey’s life. Every single allegation made by the co-conspirators against me were proven to be completely false. To this day, Liberty and I continue to grieve the loss of Casey. Our faith in God helps us through it, believing that the co-conspirators will soon be brought to justice.”
Kerri was stunned by the shocking allegations and immediately fired back.
Radio Personality Casey Kasem, wife Jean Kasem, daughter Kerri Kasem, son Michael Kasem and daughter Julie Kasem attend Lebanon-Syrian American Society of Greater Los Angeles Man of the Year Awards on January 25, 1985, at the Beverly Wilshire Hotel in Beverly Hills, California. (Photo by Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
“Every single year Jean Kasem’s story changes,” she responded. “My sister nor my brother are Scientologists. My father never 'cut us off.' We all have jobs and support ourselves and have since our 20s. She has yet to produce one check or one ounce of evidence where my father was supporting me. I am very proud of my career, my work ethic and my integrity.
“I have a history of 22 years on talk radio and television and a history of making a good living for myself,” she continued. “By 2007, on the other hand, Jean had dissipated $10 million of my father’s money on her failed crib company, which never made a dime of profit. The only people who have had a lifetime of living off my father are Jean, her 29-year-old daughter, Liberty Kasem, who has never worked a day in her life, and Jean’s boyfriend of seven years.
Jean Kasem, the then-wife of Casey Kasem, makes a court-ordered appearance regarding an ongoing dispute with stepdaughter Kerri Kasem May 30, 2014 in Port Orchard, Washington. (Photo by Suzi Pratt/Getty Images)
"The court deemed Jean Kasem did not act in my dad’s best interest. Also, my dad’s treating physician warned Jean that her actions could kill him. They did. Jean and Liberty Kasem were never banned from the hospital. It was just the opposite, there was a Washington court order allowing all of us to be at the hospital with my dad. They chose not to be there. Despite Jean doing everything she can to delay justice, we will have our day in court!”
Kerri insisted the family drama began long before Kasem’s health began to deteriorate. She alleged Jean’s relationship with Kasem’s children changed when the couple tied the knot in 1980.
Kerri Kasem with her father Casey Kasem during happier times. — Courtesy of Kerri Kasem
“She became very nasty and very mean,” Kerri alleged. “… It was horrible. We would ask our father why she was doing this. He would say, ‘It’s going to get better.’ We heard that all the time.”
GQ reported that in 2014, Jean was reportedly upset that Kasem's two older daughters visited him without her consent during the ongoing dispute at a Santa Monica convalescent hospital. According to a nurse’s sworn declaration, Jean said the facility offered “no privacy for Mr. Kasem.” The outlet said she then put her bedridden husband in a wheelchair and rolled him out.
“She pulled him out against medical advice,” said Kerri. “She disconnected his feeding tube, his only source of hydration and nutrition [and] put him in a wheelchair… She removed him because we got to visit him, putting him in harm’s way and possible demise. A few weeks later, my father passed away.”
Casey Kasem with Jean Kasem at the Hollywood Star Walk of Fame ceremony in 1981. — Courtesy of Jean Kasem
People magazine reported Casey’s children filed a missing persons report after attempting to contact him. Following a court battle, Kerri obtained a conservatorship, assuming control of his medical care. But when she arrived to transport her father to a hospital, she was confronted by Jean who flung raw meat at her in protest.
“I wanted to save my father’s life,” said Kerri. “I wanted to do everything I could to save him. It was too late. We did everything that we could. He had sepsis, he had severe bed sores, he had a kidney infection. He was so sick by the time we got him to a hospital there was nothing we could do. We did get the last two weeks of his life with him.”
Casey Kasem with his three adult children.
(Courtesy of Kerri Kasem)
Kerri claimed she is eager to confront her stepmother in court once more. Kerri said that once and for all, she will set the record straight.
“There were times when [my father] said things to me that he didn’t like [about the relationship],” Kerri alleged. “Things, which I won’t say here, where he felt that he thought would change, but didn’t. There were things that came out about Jean but he couldn’t believe she had done them… There were times when he spoke of leaving her for actual, specific reasons. Those are truths that will come out in court.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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