The family of radio DJ and television personality Casey Kasem, known for founding the "American Top 40" franchise, has been involved in a bitter internal dispute following his death in 2014. Now, the argument has escalated with the members of Kasem clan accusing each other of murdering the iconic radio personality.
The fight between Jeannie Kasem, Kasem’s second wife, and his three children from his first marriage, Kerri, Julie and Michael, is the subject of an upcoming episode of CBS's "48 Hours."
“I have never seen such hatred within a family,” correspondent Peter Van Sant told the New York Post about the program, airing Saturday. “Both sides tell credible, powerful stories, both proclaim their love for Casey and both blame the other and accuse the other of killing Casey — and both use the word ‘murder.’”
Kasem died on June 15, 2014 after a long struggle Lewy body dementia, a disease similar to Parkinson's. An intense legal battle over his estate, valued at between $80 and $100 million, quickly took hold, with Jeannie claiming that Kasem's children manipulated him into giving them power of attorney. Their control of decisions regarding his medical care resulted in Kasem's death, Jeannie claims.
“It was always about the money,” she tells Van Sant.
But the Kasem children had legal claims of their own, accusing Jeannie of elder abuse after Casey was moved from a California rehab center to a private home in Washington state.
“Jean killed my father,” Kerri Kasem tells Van Sant. “The only thing she ever wanted from my dad is money.”
A countersuit from Jeannie followed after Kasem was admitted to a hospital in Gig Harbor, Washington, where he ultimately died.
“Jeannie claims that once they had control of [Casey] and his medical decisions, they told his doctors to unhook his nutrition, hydration and medicine and left him to die,” Van Sant told the Post. “She claims they wanted their share of his life insurance policy.”
The wrongful death suit, filed in June if 2017, accused Kasem's children of a “homicidal guardianship scam” and “chemically restrain[ing] their father and then kill[ing] him to go after Casey and Jean’s financial assets,” according to The Rolling Stone.
Kerri Kasem denied the claims.
“The only homicidal part was her unplugging my father’s IV and feeding tube and leaving the hospital with my dad,” Kerri said to Rolling Stone. “If a mom delivered a preemie and said, ‘You know what? I’m going to take this baby home. I don’t care what you say’ and the baby died three weeks later, that mom would’ve been brought up on murder charges.”
The "48 Hours" episode will also reveal a private detective hired by Jeannie determined Kasem's cause of death was homicide, which has sparked a police probe, according to The New York Post.
The family also argued about how Kasem should be memorialized and the location of his tomb, which ended up being in Oslo, Norway. Why this was chosen as his final resting place remains unclear: Kasem had never been to Norway, the Post reports. Casey's children say Jeannie chose the location out of spite, in order to make it difficult for them to visit their father.
In his life, Kasem was known for founding and hosting the "American Top 40" franchise in 1970, a program for which he remained the figurehead until 2004. Kasem also voice the beloved disheveled mystery solver, Norville "Shaggy" Rogers in the "Scooby-Doo" franchise from 1969 until 2009, along with several other children's television characters on "Sesame Street."
[Photo: The Kasem family by Amanda Edwards / Getty Images]
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