Radio legend Casey Kasem’s bizarre “kidnap” drama is just the latest battle in a bitter war between his second wife Jean and his three children from his first marriage.
After the three children won a court order to see their dad, the frail 82-year-old broadcaster – who suffers from dementia and can’t speak – suddenly vanished from his nursing home, sparking an international manhunt.
The ENQUIRER went behind the scenes and uncovered the shocking truth – helpless Casey has become a tragic pawn in a vicious family feud surrounding his $80 million fortune.
In sensational accusations, Casey’s children – Kerri, Mike and Julie Kasem – claim that his current wife, Jean, has held him prisoner and even used armed guards to isolate him from his family!
What’s more, they accuse her of “kidnapping” Casey from the nursing home and whisking him a thousand miles away to Seattle, where he wasn’t found until three days later.
Jean, who’s been married to Casey for 33 years, characterized the trip as a vacation.
“I can assure you thIs was no vacation!” Casey’s irate daughter Kerri, 41, told The ENQUIRER in an exclusive interview.
And Danny Deraney – a representative for Kerri and her siblings – told us: “The children want their father back (in Southern California). “They don’t want Jean doing anything stupid. As Kerri says, this was a kidnapping. It wasn’t a vacation. He was in a facility getting the care he needed and he was taken out.”
On May 6, just days before Casey vanished, Kerri, and Julie, 38, went to the Berkley East Convalescent Hospital in Santa Monica to visit their stricken dad.
The three of them shared old family photos, and the girls talked about old times.
Shortly afterward, the former host of “Casey’s Top 40” and “American Top 40” disappeared, along with his medical equipment. Kerri filed a missing person’s report, and at a May 12 court hearing, she was appointed her father’s temporary conservator.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Daniel S. Murphy ordered investigators to locate Casey, who’d also won the hearts of millions of young fans as the voice of Shaggy on the “Scooby-Doo” cartoon series.
His headline-making disappearance was the apparent climax of the long-running war that pitted Jean and her 23-year-old daughter by Casey, Liberty Kasem, against the three children from Casey’s first marriage to Linda Myers.
Sources say that they think Jean – an actress best known for her role as ditzy Loretta Tortelli on “The Tortellis” – believes that Casey’s kids simply want to get their hands on his $80 million.
But they insist their only concern is his well-being and their freedom to see him whenever they want, say sources.
The family feud took a bizarre turn Oct. 1st last year, when Kerri, along with Casey’s 78-year-old brother, Mouner Kasem, and friends, held a protest outside the lavish $42 million Kasem estate in Holmby Hills, Calif.
Sisters Kerri and Julie held signs reading: “JEAN, WHY WON’T YOU LET ME SEE MY DAD!?” and Mouner held one that poignantly read: “I MiSS MY BROTHER.”
Kerri and the protesters claimed that none of them had been allowed to see or communicate with Casey after being barred by Jean, except on a few occasions when they say Jean hired an armed guard to stand watch.
In court papers filed last year, Jean charged that Kerri, Julie and Mike had “single-handedly and irreparably shattered the lives of their father, his wife and youngest daughter” and have “disgraced their father and vilified their stepmother.”
In a scathing charge, she added: “These children falsely claim that their stepmother (Jean) is wicked and is keeping her husband (Casey) prisoner in his home behind closed doors and that they no longer have access to him.”
The mystery of Casey’s recent disappearance ended when authorities finally located the ailing celebrity and his wife on May 13 at the home of friends in the Seattle area.
No action was taken by local police, but a judge appointed a doctor and an attorney to further evaluate the radio host prior to a June 20 court hearing. His children are eager to get Casey back under proper medical supervision.
He suffers from Lewy Body dementia, which is similar to both Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease.
“The saddest thing about the family war,” said a source, “is that poor Casey’s caught in the middle and probably not even aware of what’s taking place around him.”