Casey Kasem's wife, children accuse each other of "killing" radio icon

The beloved radio icon's widow and children from his first marriage are suing each other for wrongful death with accusations on each side that the other hastened Kasem's demise

Produced by Chuck Stevenson and Resa Matthews

Casey Kasem was an American icon. He was famous for radio's "American Top 40" and as the voice of Scooby Doo's pal Shaggy. He died in 2014, setting off a long-simmering battle between his second wife Jean and the adult children from his first marriage. In October, police opened an investigation asking the question – what were the circumstances surrounding Casey's death?

WAR OF THE KASEMS

NEWS REPORT: His family says Kasem's wife, Jean, illegally moved him from a facility where the 82 year old was receiving treatment...


KERRI KASEM [NEWS REPORT]: He is very ill, he shouldn't be moved…

There's never been a Hollywood drama quite like the family feud between the second wife of Casey Kasem and his children, involving intrigue, money and ultimately, his death 

It was May 7, 2014, and you could say the mystery started at an assisted living facility in Santa Monica, Calif.  And imagine this -- it was 2:30 a.m.  

Jean Kasem: That move that night was to get him out of the drama and to keep him safe and secure. …We had had enough.

Jean Kasem, Casey's wife of 34 years, says she was convinced her husband's life was in danger.  She has never fully told the story of Casey Kasem's drama – until now.

Peter Van Sant | "48 Hours":: What were you thinking Jeannie?

Jean Kasem: I was thinking that it was time to protect my husband.

NEWS REPORT:  The legendary radio host that suffers from dementia was checked out of an assisted living facility by his wife.

It's a drama that really started all the way back in 1979 when Casey, then a divorced father of three, met Jean Thompson, who was a secretary at his agent's office. Casey fell for her and they were married exactly one year later at one of L.A.'s most luxurious hotels.

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Casey and Jean Kasem were married by the Rev. Jesse Jackson Ralph Dominguez/ZUMAPRESS/Newscom

Peter Van Sant: So where are we right now?

Jean Kasem: Well, right now we're where it all began, where Casey and I got married. There were about 500 people here. It was an amazing day.

The Reverend Jesse Jackson married the couple.

Jean Kasem:  It was a dream come true.

Jean Thompson was 22 years younger than Casey. She grew up listening to him

Jean Kasem: I was growing up on Guam at the time … and we only had Armed Forces Radio over there. And … I heard this D.J. come on and he announced this record … then I went, "Oh man. Who is this guy?"  And he went, "I'm Casey Kasem [laughs]."

She is a former actress, best known for her role on "Cheers."

The happy couple eventually moved into a mansion in one of the chicest L.A. neighborhoods, Bel Air, just a hop away from the famous Playboy Mansion.

Back then, Casey was on top of the world.

Peter Van Sant: And that voice. That voice.

Jean Kasem: He never did think it was so good.

Peter Van Sant: Really?

Jean Kasem: He said, "I'm just the guy next door."

Hardly. Casey Kasem had launched the program, "American Top 40," heard on more than 1,000 radio stations around the world.

He made hundreds of voiceovers, and was that signature voice of Scooby Doo's pal, Shaggy.

Casey was much more than a voice to his three kids from his first marriage, Kerri, Mike and Julie. He was their loving father.

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Casey was much more than a voice to his three kids from his first marriage.To Kerri, Mike and Julie, he was their loving father. Kerri Kasem

Julie Kasem: My father imparted so much wisdom on all of us when we were children. "Education, education, education."

Julie Kasem became a physician's assistant.

Julie Kasem: My dad imparted to us to be humble, to treat people with kindness, to love those around you. 

His oldest daughter, Kerri Kasem, helped out on his radio show.  Kerri went into modeling, acting and broadcasting.

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"This is where he did 'American top 40' and 'American Top 20,'" Kerri Kasem says of the studio where her father worked. "He would sit here …and he'd always have his water and his apple and rock candy for his voice." CBS News

His son Mike has a radio show in Singapore.

Casey's children claim everything changed once their father and Jean became engaged.

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Casey and Jean with Kerri, Mike and Julie. Kerri Kasem

Peter Van Sant: Was there an estrangement?  

Jean Kasem: There was. …Basically they were upset with their father and angry with their father because he married me. And they were angry with me because I married their father.

Casey and Jean would have their own daughter, Liberty.

And as his success grew, they lived a full life. The couple threw themselves into philanthropy -- everything from environmental issues to animal rights to progressive politics.

CASEY KASEM| CBS NEWS' "THE EARLY SHOW" | July 28, 1989: You realize it really is important to give something back. And to help repair the world. Because, that's got to be my legacy.

Jean Kasem: We believed in a lot of charity.

In 2007, at the age of 75, Casey Kasem was diagnosed with a Parkinson's-like disease called, Lewy body dementia.

Jean Kasem: It slows them down. They can either get rigid or … shaking. …It may sometimes affect their speech.

Casey Kasem's biggest fans were his family

In 2009, Casey gave up his beloved radio show and signed off for the last time.

CASEY KASEM | "AMERICAN TOP 40": And now, one more time, keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.

Casey would have no financial worries with an estate valued between $80 and $100 million.  But around that time, Jean claims, his children became focused on one thing.

Jean Kasem: It was all about the money. …We became the bank of Kasem … the personal ATM machine.

Around 2012, according to Jean, Casey was fed up and cut them off financially. Jean says the kids were furious. But instead of getting mad, Jean claims Kerri and the others did something almost unimaginable.

Jean Kasem: I believe that Kerri Kasem did kill my husband. That it was a long-term premeditated plan … and he's gone.

Kerri Kasem:  It's just lie after lie after lie. Without any evidence.

A FEUD INTENSIFIES

NEWS REPORT: The children of legendary D.J. Casey Kasem are demanding to know, "Where is Kasem?"

Jean Kasem: Those adult children … had put targets on our backs.

Peter Van Sant: Do you believe that your husband Casey Kasem feared his children?

Jean Kasem: Yes.

Peter Van Sant: And feared that they could do what?

Jean Kasem: What they did.

Peter Van Sant: Which was?

Jean Kasem: Kill him.

Kerri Kasem:  That's ridiculous. That's just -- that's ridiculous. …There is no more evil in this world than Jean Thompson Kasem.

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Casey Kasem, third from left, surrounded by his children from his first marriage, Mike, Julie, and Kerri Kerri Kasem

Jean says the alleged plot started on a lonely stretch of Hollywood Boulevard back in 2007. She says that Casey's children lured their disoriented father from his Bel Air mansion to a UPS Store to sign a very important document.

Jean Kasem:  He was taken to a UPS store and he was asked to sign his life away … while he was on medications.  …He had sutures in his head. He did not have his glasses on … and he was out of it.

Video shot by Kerri Kasem shows Casey filling out a document that would give his children -- and not Jean -- the authority to be in charge of his future health care. It's video that Jean claims shows that Casey is obviously impaired.

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Video shot by Kerri Kasem shows Casey filling out a document that would give his children -- and not Jean -- the authority to be in charge of his future health care.

The document Casey signed laid the groundwork, Jean claims, that would lead to medical decisions that would kill Casey. 

Starting in 2013, as Casey's health declined, there were legal squabbles. Jean was trying to control when and where people could see Casey -- including his own children.

Julie Kasem: I was in tears. I was speechless. I called my sister bawling and I said, "I just want to see dad and she won't let me."

Jean also says she and her daughter Liberty became targets of a harassment campaign.

Peter Van Sant: Were you living in fear?

Jean Kasem: Pretty much.

Peter Van Sant: Were you ever personally threatened by someone?                                             

Jean Kasem: There was a phone call that came in. I believe it was … early in the morning and there was a loud bang on the phone … and I held my ear … I said, "Oh my god. It sounds -- what is that?" And then I heard it again and I recognized it as a gunshot.

Peter Van Sant: And did you report this to the police?

Jean Kasem: Reported it to our lawyer. Reported a lot of the incidences to the police.

Jean alleges someone smashed her front gate, her mail was stolen and more.

Liberty Kasem [cell phone video in car]: I believe there is another surveillance van. There he is right there, there he is. Go!]

It was around this time that Jean claims Casey's children asked police and adult protective services to check up on Casey.

Jean Kasem: They were called by Kerri, Julie, whomever.

Los Angeles police found no evidence of abuse or neglect.

Jean claims that the harassment continued. She points to a demonstration right outside her home. Kerri and some supporters were demanding to see Casey.

KERRI KASEM AT DEMONSTRATION: After three months of no communication, we finally said enough is enough.

Finally, at a rehab facility in Santa Monica, the mysterious last days of Casey Kasem's life took a dramatic turn. Casey was very sick. He'd been in and out of hospitals for months and there had been endless legal fights, mostly over visitation.

Jean Kasem I was thinking … that it was time to protect my husband … and leave the drama for all of us … behind.

Jean says she was keeping Casey at the rehab center under a fake name, but somehow his adult children found out.

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Jean and Casey Kasem Alamy

Then, a few days later, on May 6, Jean says Kerri and Julie gained access into the facility and even got into Casey's room. She says she was terrified and furious.

Jean Kasem: It was about the money. Casey no longer was of any use to them. It was all about the money.

It turns out that the adult children's' power of attorney for medical decisions had never taken effect. Kerri and Julie decided they needed to go to court to try to get custody of their dad.

Julie Kasem:  We had not seen him since February. Now, this is May.

But Jean was having none of it. The day she found out they were headed to court, she made a dramatic move.

At 2:30 a.m., doctors say Jean ordered Casey's surgically implanted nutrition tube and IV disconnected and checked him out of the rehab facility. The doctor in charge of Casey's care later wrote the following letter to police:

"She was informed of the risks of doing so and was told she was placing Mr. Kasem in great bodily harm or possible demise …"

Peter Van Sant: He's saying that you could have killed him.

Jean Kasem: That is not true.

Casey was loaded into a black SUV and disappeared into the darkness.

NEWS ANCHOR: Though he is ill, Kasem's daughter doesn't know where he is…

Kerri Kasem: Dad once told me, "don't ever go up against Jean … you don't know what she's capable of….

WHERE IS CASEY?

It was May 2014 when Casey Kasem vanished. 

That iconic voice in the world was nowhere to be heard and his case was making big news

Julie Kasem: Nobody knew where my dad was. Nobody.

His children went on national television, pleading directly to Jean Kasem.

JULIE KASEM [CNN]: We want him back. He knows that we're his children.


KERRI KASEM [Entertainment Tonight]: We've told Jean to take it all, take everything, keep it … just give us our dad back.

They were not only outraged that Jean had taken their father, but about how she had done it.

Kerri Kasem: Jean Kasem pulled my dad out at 2:30 in the morning out of a convalescent center, unhooked his G-tube, unhooked his IV. …He was supposed to be transported with an ambulance on a certain kind of mattress. No, she threw him into the back of an SUV that she didn't even get into herself. …With no pain meds. No food. No water. No nothin'.

Julie Kasem: And we were devastated. We knew this was the beginning of the end.

But there would be no end to the family feud that had begun years earlier in that UPS Store.

Kerri and Julie insist they didn't trick their dad into signing that document -- the one they hoped gave them control over his medical care.

Peter Van Sant: Jean claims that Casey has no memory of signing that document.

Kerri Kasem: Watch the tape … you'll see my dad knew what he was doing, knew what he was signing.

Peter Van Sant: Now, estate planning is normally done in a lawyer's office. …You're at a UPS store.

Kerri Kasem:  He was terrified that Jean would find out.

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Peter Van Sant holding a photo from video shot by Kerri Kasem of her sister Julie with their father, Casey, at a UPS Store. CBS News

Peter Van Sant [holding photo of Julie and Casey at the UPS Store]: Let me give you Jean's interpretation of what she told me… And this is you.

Julie Kasem: Yup.

Peter Van Sant: And this is your father.

Julie Kasem: Yes.

Peter Van Sant: Now there's a circle here because he supposedly had had a medical procedure and had sutures in his head, is that true?

Julie Kasem: To my knowledge, that is falsified information. …In my opinion Jean Kasem is a liar. One-hundred percent pathological liar.

"48 Hours" has confirmed that Casey had a procedure, but it was a minor one. Ten days before the signing, he had a small hair transplant.

Just like that story, just about everything both sides told "48 Hours" is in dispute.

Remember, ever since Casey married Jean, the relationship between the children from Casey's first marriage and their stepmother has been toxic.  For example, take the arguments over money.

Kerri Kasem: The only thing she ever wanted from my dad is money. That's it. …They live off my father.

Peter Van Sant ...and you understand -- she says the same thing to me about you.

Kerri Kasem:  But I work!

Kerri Kasem: I'm very proud of who I am, I'm very proud of how hard I've worked. I've been on the air 21 years. …You know, working multiple jobs sometimes to pay the bills. I own my own home. My dad didn't buy that for me.

The feud intensified after Casey's health deteriorated.

Kerri Kasem: She had a plan to move him out of the house and cut us all off.

Julie Kasem: Starting in 2012 is when I felt that the isolation began.

Kerri Kasem: I'm told by my sister, "Hey, I can't get a hold of dad. I can't get a hold of dad. …My father was isolated and we were not allowed to see him anymore.

Remember that demonstration outside Casey's house? That day, Jean even called the police.

KERRI KASEM [pleading with police outside Casey's mansion]My dad's very ill and he loves us.

POLICE OFFICER: Do you know why she is not allowing you guys to see him?

KERRI KASEM [in tears]:  There's many reasons. But none of them are true.

The whole drama climaxed in mid-May 2014. That's when Jean disappeared into the night with Casey. Desperate to find her dad, Kerri made an emotional appeal on TV.

KERRI KASEM [NEWS REPORT]: If you've seen anything, please call the police, please.

Days after that, the battlefield in the war of the Kasems shifted to Las Vegas.

That's where a private eye working for Kerri discovered the couple. Jean had taken Casey to a posh resort there, but not for long. Next, she put him on a charter flight.

That private jet carrying a frail Casey Kasem flew northwest from Las Vegas, landing in Seattle. He was brought to a place 1,100 miles from his hospital bed in Santa Monica.

Peter Van Sant: And you wanted to get away from the madness in Los Angeles?

Jean Kasem: We were being photographed and followed to supermarkets and tortured, just tortured.

Casey ended up in a place called Silverdale, a small town in western Washington. For the first time since those final days, "48 Hours" brought Jean back.

Shasta Bartleheim grew up with Jean, and they both hoped Casey would spend some quiet, peaceful days in her parent's home.

Peter Van Sant: Can you show me the bedroom where he was? 

Shasta Bartleheim: Yes. 

Peter Van Sant: Is that OK?

Shasta Bartleheim: Yes, absolutely.

Shasta Bartleheim:  This is where Casey was … his hospital bed was here … very comfortable. My mother has a lot of Snoopy, she is an avid Snoopy collector.

Peter Van Sant: So Casey was in his hospital bed with all these Snoopys around him?

Shasta Bartleheim: Here [she points, laughing].

Shasta Bartleheim:  And we had all of his medical supplies, some were here, some were in another room.

Peter Van Sant: Was he in pain?

Shasta Bartleheim: No. No. He was not in any pain in this house. Ever.

Casey Kasem's final days in Washington State

Acting on a tip, Washington Adult Protective Service and Kitsap County sheriff's deputies came by to check on Casey.

SHERIFF TO REPORTERS: Mr. Kasem and his wife are here visiting. …We did check on his welfare. He seems to be doing fine. He was upright. He could communicate.

But Casey's stay here was about to come to an end.

Kerri won a new court order. She was coming from L.A. to get Casey and take him to a hospital and things were about to get very weird.

A BIZARRE SHOWDOWN

In late May 2014, Casey Kasem was counting down his days in Silverdale, Washington, tended to by a doctor, his family and close friends 

Shasta Bartleheim:  He was content.  He was very happy.  He smiled, shook our hands. …It just, it was nice.

Shasta Bartleheim, a nurse's assistant, has known Casey since 1980.  She helped care for him.

Peter Van Sant: Was he still able to converse?  Answer questions? 

Shasta Bartleheim: Yes. …He would speak. …It was a whisper kind of a sound when he talked. …He wasn't grimacing, in any pain.

On June 1, 2014, Kerri Kasem arrived at the house armed with a court order to pick up her father and take him to a hospital. Jean was waiting.

Jean Kasem:  Kerri arrives, as usual, with media in tow … her attorney.

Kerri Kasem: We pull up. And then fire trucks show up, another ambulance shows up, because Jean has caused a fit.

Kerri Kasem: I saw … geriatric Harley Davidson riders that were forming a line to not let me in. …It's so crazy and so weird.

That line of bikers was led by Bartleheim's brother.

Jean Kasem: Casey started yelling, "I don't wanna go. I don't wanna leave. …No, no, no."

Shasta Bartleheim: He was frightened … his eyes were big.

Peter Van Sant: He didn't want to leave?

Shasta Bartleheim: No, he didn't want to leave.

Acting on that court order, EMT's removed Casey.

Peter Van Sant: So show me where they took him.

Shasta Bartleheim: Down this hallway ... headed for the door.

Peter Van Sant: He headed out, and what was out here out in the street?

Shasta Bartleheim:  The ambulance was there, there were a couple of ambulance.

Terrified, Jean called her lawyer.

Jean Kasem: I dropped the phone and I turned around to look for something, and there was meat in the kitchen, and I just --

It was frozen hamburger.

Jean Kasem:  I … grabbed the meat and I came out here, and I started walking this way with the meat in my hand.

JEAN KASEM [YELLING]: … in the order of King David… Go ahead and take thee… in the order of King David…"

Then she took aim:

JEAN KASEM [THROWING MEAT]: I throw this meat to you … To the dogs! To the dogs!

Kerri Kasem: Jean … throws a piece of frozen meat at me … screaming nonsense.

Peter Van Sant: Why meat though? Why grab meat?

Jean Kasem: To me … They were treating my husband, an American treasure, Casey Kasem … like a piece of meat.

Kerri Kasem: Insane.  Crazy. …You saw the real Jean Thompson Kasem.

Peter Van Sant: So, if I may ask you, are you crazy, Jeannie?

Jean Kasem:  No, I'm not.

Kerri dodged the meat attack, then jumped in the ambulance with her dad and sped away to a local hospital where a doctor was standing by.

Kerri Kasem: The first thing he said to me right when I got him in the hospital. "Your dad may not live very long, I'm just gonna let you know."

When Casey arrived at St. Anthony's Hospital, his diagnosis was grim. He had, according to hospital records, a urinary tract infection and a stage three ulcer of his back -- that's an open wound, going almost to the bone.

Within days, doctors would also diagnose septic shock, respiratory failure, a lung infection and a host of other ailments.

Julie Kasem: The change was so drastic.  It was … maddening. …he was … extremely thin. His face was sunken in.

Bartleheim says Casey, who was taken out of the house that day, was nowhere near death.

Shasta Bartleheim: Oh no. No. Heavens No. Not at all!

The next day, Jean tried to get Casey out of the hospital.

Jean Kasem: On June second … we had an emergency court hearing. …And the judge … ordered that he could return home, once his personal physician spoke with the attending physician at the hospital.

Just before 10 that night, Jean arrived at the hospital, along with Bartleheim and her attorney.  They claim that the physician treating Casey had told them to come and pick him up.

Jean Kasem: And he said … "His overnight observation has concluded. And he's discharged."

But when she arrived, the doctor wouldn't release him -- saying Casey was in pain. 

Jean Kasem: He wasn't in any pain. They wanted him to be in pain.

Jean refused to leave without Casey.

Kerri Kasem: She started screaming. They had to call the police to get her outta the facility.

And three days later…

Kerri Kasem:  We had three doctors come in and say this is futile. "Your father's dying. His organs are shutting down. He can no longer digest food."

Kerri and her siblings now faced a wrenching decision. They say they followed a doctor's recommendation to stop Casey's hydration and nutrition.

Kerri Kasem: I couldn't hear it. I got upset. I said, "Isn't there something we can do? What if we try this? What if we try that?" …because I was the fighter. I wasn't gonna let him go [cries].

On June 6, the Kasem children alerted Jean.

Jean Kasem: Julie called my lawyer … and said to my lawyer that, "We're losing him. She should come to the hospital right away."

Jean and Liberty rushed to the hospital, but claim they were only permitted to see Casey for a few minutes. 

Jean Kasem: We were given five minutes to say goodbye to a man that I was married to for 34-and-a-half years … He looked at me and he was scared to death. I went to the bed. I held his hand. He grabbed my arm.

Peter Van Sant: Did Casey say anything to you?

Jean Kasem: He said that he loved me [cries] and I told him that I loved him.

Jean was desperate to get Casey's life support restored

Jean Kasem: My first and foremost thing was to save my husband's life -- every second counted

She flew back to California, hoping to get the court to order it.  Over the next few days there would be several motions filed.

Julie Kasem: The doctors said, "Unfortunately, there is nothing more we can do to keep your father alive." That was the hardest thing to hear. …That's our dad.

On June 15, 2014, Casey Kasem, the beloved radio icon, passed away. He was 82.

Legendary radio host Casey Kasem dies at 82

Julie Kasem:  We were all surrounding him on the bed with our hands on him. Every single one of us was touching him as he took his last breath.

Kerri Kasem: We were all there. All of us. And who was missing? His wife and Liberty. …It was 100 percent their choice not to be there

Casey Kasem’s close friends remember the talented radio icon

Peter Van Sant: This court order says you can visit him at any time. No one can stop you. And what Kerri is saying is that you chose not to see Casey anymore in the hospital.

Jean Kasem: That's not true. That is not true at all.  …We were afraid to go to the hospital.

In death, the war of the Kasems grew even more fierce.

Jean Kasem:  He did not die of natural causes. …they planned it, and they killed him.

Kerri Kasem:  Jean killed my father. Whether it was premeditated or whether it was just by her careless actions … If someone killed your father, wouldn't you want justice?

THE FIGHT CONTINUES

In June 2014, Casey Kasem's death was felt across the globe.  

ELTON JOHN CONCERT DEDICATION: And there was this guy on the radio I used to listen to all the time, and he passed away today so…I want to dedicate this song to Casey Kasem ... travel safely my angel.

And travel he would.  Casey's body was taken from Silverdale to Sea-Tac Airport, where it was flown to Montreal.

Peter Van Sant: And why Montreal?

Jean Kasem: He was there -- for a time because his burial was being obstructed.

Casey's body remained in Canada -- on ice -- for weeks. As his widow, Jean had full control over his burial.

Jean Kasem: Casey and I had spoken about this, where he would like to be buried. And it was in Israel.

But Casey's children thought that was crazy.

Kerri Kasem: My dad's as American as apple pie. …He lived in Los Angeles for 58 years.  He wanted to be buried in Los Angeles.

Casey's body took flight again. This time to -- of all places – Norway, where Jean orchestrated a burial fit for a king. Only she and Liberty were at Casey's gravesite, but they did bring their own camera crew. 

Peter Van Sant: Why Norway of all places?

Jean Kasem:  There are concrete reasons for that. …Because I'm in litigation, I can't share that with you.

Kerri Kasem: My dad's never been to Norway. …She's not Norwegian.

Peter Van Sant: What is goin' on here?

Kerri Kasem: When you tell so many lies, you get caught up in them.

After Casey's death, the battle between the Kasem's went nuclear. Both sides in this epic family feud sued the other for wrongful death.

Two sides of Casey Kasem's family blame each other for the radio legend's death

Julie Kasem: What she did to my dad was elder abuse. Straight and simple.

Kerri Kasem: That trip is what cost my dad his life. He could've had two or three more years.  She took him from us. … You want to call it murder.  You wanna say she killed him. …He's dead because of her.

Casey's children accuse Jean of a pattern of neglect -- where she secretly moved Casey from one care center to the next.

Kerri Kasem: And she used the hospitals and facilities as a baby sitter so she didn't have to take care of him.

Jean Kasem: I say that that's a flat-out lie. I was there. I was in touch with the doctors.

Jean Kasem accuses the children of hastening his death by pulling the plug on Casey.

Jean Kasem: They chemically restrained him. They removed his hydration, his nutrition and all proactive medical care.

Jean Kasem: It was the equivalent of leaving Casey Kasem in the desert to die.

It's been a never-ending drama. Even when Kerri's lawyers finally deposed Jean, she fainted -- blaming the episode on medication.

And besides accusing each other of killing Casey, there's that battle royale over his fortune. As seen in a 2017 "Inside Edition" video, the mansion has become the latest battleground. 

Kerri Kasem: The house hasn't been taken care of, the taxes aren't paid, they have destroyed everything. They've killed everything. There's no electricity on, there's no running water.

At the request of Casey's children, a court-appointed trustee attempted to remove and store some of Casey's memorabilia.

Meanwhile, the fight over Casey's assets, lawyers say, could take years.

Peter Van Sant: Today you are fighting for damages and access to your father's millions.

Kerri Kasem: I am fighting for justice. That is what I'm fighting for.

KERRI KASEM SPEAKING IN CHICAGO:  My father's wife, Jean Thompson Kasem didn't want us at the house… wouldn't pass phone calls along.

Four years ago, Kerri started a foundation to help pass legislation to protect the visitation rights of children.  

Kerri Kasem:  I was doing everything I possibly could to see my dad. And -- the law didn't help me in -- in California.

To date, 12 states have passed a "Visitation Bill," including California.

Kerri Kasem:  It passed a year after he died. But I kept fighting 'til I won

Despite Kerri's claims of elder abuse and negligence, the Los Angeles district attorney declined to prosecute Jean Kasem, citing insufficient evidence. 

Kerri Kasem: The police and the D.A. won't do a damn thing – that is why we are fighting.  Take the money. I want her in jail.

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Legendary radio broadcaster Casey Kasem PF1/WENN/Newscom

Just last month, "48 Hours" has learned that Washington's Gig Harbor Police Department has assigned a detective to look into Casey's death. He's combing through medical records and conducting interviews. According to Jean, it was at her request.

Jean Kasem: I've been praying to God [cries] ever since this started.

While the legal wheels grind ahead, this American icon, with his own star on Hollywood Boulevard, is buried in an unmarked grave in Oslo, Norway.

Kerri Kasem: I'm gonna bring my father back to the United States of America, where he belongs.

And just as Casey Kasem's legendary voice is certain to carry on, his family is determined to keep fighting.

Jean Kasem: I'm not going to quit. I'm the daughter of a Marine.

Kerri Kasem:  My father is right here with me right now in every single day of my life. She can never take him away from me again.


The Kasem family's wrongful death suit against Jean is scheduled for court next spring. Jean has filed a counter wrongful death suit. The outcome of the case could decide who inherits Casey Kasem's fortune.

Casey Kasem's radio show can still be heard in syndication around the world.

  • Peter Van Sant

    Correspondent, "48 Hours"