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Casey Kasem’s daughter sees family feud behind body’s journey to Montreal

Former American radio host Casey Kasem is seen in a studio handout photo.


Sending Casey Kasem's remains from Washington state to Montreal appears to have been a last-minute decision, according to a lawyer representing his daughter, who had tried in vain to stop the widow of the late American radio host from shipping the body to Quebec.

France, then British Columbia, were locations Mr. Kasem's widow, Jean, first considered as destinations to keep his remains out of his children's reach, according to Scott Winship, a lawyer for Mr. Kasem's daughter Kerri.

The confusion about the whereabouts of Mr. Kasem's body is only the latest twist in the prolonged, bitter dispute between Jean, his second wife, and the children from his first marriage: Kerri, Julie and Mike.

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In poor health and beset with dementia, the 82-year-old former DJ was in hospital in Santa Monica when Jean took him to a residence in Washington state last May. Kerri alleges that the move was aimed to thwart the children just before a Los Angeles court appointed her as a temporary conservator who could manage her father's financial affairs.

Mr. Kasem died last month in Washington state, a hospital near Tacoma. Kerri obtained last Wednesday a court order requiring the funeral home to keep his remains in cold storage for an independent autopsy.

However, the body had already been sent to Montreal. According to the death certificate, filed with Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, the final disposition of the body was to be the Urgel Bourgie funeral home chain in Montreal.

"With the body out of the jurisdiction of the state of Washington, there is really nothing that we can do right now," Mr. Winship said in an interview Monday.

Even though Mr. Kasem died June 15, the death certificate was registered July 10.

Mr. Winship said that when he went on July 15 to obtain a copy of the death certificate, "staffers there said that initially they had been informed that the wife was going to bury Mr. Kasem in Paris, France. But then those plans changed and I heard that he was going to be transported to Vancouver. And then at the last minute, the funeral home called and said, no, Montreal."

Furthermore, even though Mr. Kasem and his wife had been living in California, the death notice lists their address as a location in central Jerusalem, in the Sha'arei Hesed neighbourhood, near the Knesset, Israel's parliament.

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Mr. Winship said Kerri was not aware of any connection her father or Jean had with Montreal or Jerusalem.

In court documents, Kerri alleged that Jean committed criminal abuse of an elderly person.

According to a Santa Monica police report filed in court by Mr. Winship, Mr. Kasem was fed by gastric tube and suffered from numerous health problems, including Lewy body dementia, anemia and joint disease. The report said a doctor had warned Jean against disconnecting Mr. Kasem's tubes and transporting him but "she chose to disregard those risks by moving him anyway."

In an incident caught on video, at one point when the children tried to visit, Jean threw raw meat at them while invoking King David.

Danny Deraney, a spokesman for Kerri, said it would be up to Santa Monica police to decide whether they want to seek access to the body in the course of their investigation.

He said that Kerri and her siblings "just want to know where their father is buried so they can visit him … The kids are done with this, they don't want the remains."

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Last Wednesday, Kerri obtained a temporary restraining order forbidding Gaffney Funeral Home in Tacoma, Wash., from removing the body from their facility without authorization from the courts. The order, issued by Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ronald Culpepper, said she had "a well-grounded fear" that her efforts could be thwarted by Jean.

However, by that time, the body had already been flown to Montreal.

"We never publicly comment on the arrangements we have with families," said Yvan Rodrigue, an executive with Urgel Bourgie's parent company, Groupe Athos.

He said he was aware of the file but referred media queries to Gaffney Funeral Home.

Corey Gaffney, president of Gaffney Funeral Home, previously told Associated Press that he couldn't comment on why Jean picked Montreal and that he was no longer in charge of the case after the body had landed in Quebec.

Calls to Jean's phone were not answered and her lawyer, Teruyuki Olsen, declined to comment.

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About the Author
National reporter

Tu Thanh Ha is based in Toronto and writes frequently about judicial, political and security issues. He spent 12 years as a correspondent for the Globe and Mail in Montreal, reporting on Quebec politics, organized crime, terror suspects, space flights and native issues. More


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