Fans will remember radio icon Casey Kasem as one of the greatest radio personalities of all time, but for his children, it has been hard to mourn their father due to bizarre family drama and legal battles with his second wife, Jean Kasem.
Joining us on the phone this morning is his daughter, Kerri Kasem, to talk about sad and strange family drama that has made headlines in the weeks leading up to and following his death.
For those who may not have followed the story closely, Kerri has been in the middle of constant battles with Jean for the past 34 years, who severed ties with Kasem’s children from his first marriage. The saga escalated in recent months when Kerri and her siblings were unable to visit their ailing father and took a sad turn when Jean took him out of state without their knowledge.
His removal from his care facility ultimately resulted in his death, which Kerri tells us would have been preventable for the time being had he been properly taken care of. Now, she is working with the court on gaining control of his remains, which the whereabouts are unknown at this time.
“We’re not sure if he’s even buried yet. We just know that he’s in Montreal, a place my dad has absolutely no connection to, and he was dragged around from state to state,” Kerri explained.
Before his death, Kerri said the Kasem was ill, but doing well and aware of his surroundings.
“He was okay at that nursing home when I saw him before he left. He was talking, he was aware of where he was, he was aware of who he was,” she said. “By the time I had seen him two weeks later…he was going downhill fast.”
She adds that if Jean hadn’t removed Kasem from the nursing home to a home in Washington, he’d “be alive right now” with doctors confirming that fact.
After being shut out by Jean to even visit Kasem while in the nursing home, Kerri says she joined forces with her stepfather Robert Naylor, who is a lobbyist, and assemblyman Mike Gatto, to draft a bill to propose change in how the court handles visitation rights of alienated families. She told us what their bill is set out to do.
“It allows a judge to just rule on visitation. It doesn’t automatically give visitation to anybody. What it does allow is…if you’re an adult child that has an ailing parent who’s being blocked or ailieniated from that parent and you say ‘look I have a very close relationship’…and they send a court appointed lawyer to the ailing parent.”
She adds that the lawyer will talk with the parent and decide whether the parent does or does not want to see the child.
Many families have experience a similar situation that Kerri is dealing with now. Often times in second marriages, the first family will be swept aside and be cut off from all communication, which is exactly what happened in her family’s case.
“We haven’t communicated with Jean, let’s seen, in fifteen years we communicated with her twice. She cut all ties and communication when we were very young,” she said.
To find out how you can help support Kerri’s bill on visitation rights, visit her foundation’s website www.kasemcaresfoundation.org for more information.
Listen to our full conversation with Kerri Kasem below.