More than four years after radio legend Casey Kasem died, his wife, Jean Kasem, reveals for the first time her version of her husband’s final days; levels allegations of murder in a lawsuit; and discusses a heated family feud, on "48 Hours" in “The Mysterious Death of Casey Kasem” to be broadcast Saturday at 10 p.m. on CBS 6.
At the top of his career, Kasem was larger-than-life and heard by millions around the world as the host of the music countdown show “American Top 40” and as the voice of Shaggy in the cartoon classic “Scooby Doo.”
After his passing on Father’s Day, June 15, 2014, the feud turned nuclear as both sides accused each other of hastening his death, as they battled over his enormous estate and his final resting place.
“They killed my husband,” Jean Kasem tells Peter Van Sant. “They killed their father…”
“Jean killed my father,” counters Kerri Kasem, one of Kasem’s three adult children, adding, “What she did led to his death.”
The Kasem family drama rivals anything Hollywood could create. It includes infighting, intrigue, cash, and maybe murder.
In 2014 Casey Kasem was dying of a Parkinson’s-like disease. At the time his estate was estimated to be worth between $80-100 million. His family – Jean on one side and his adult children on the other – went to war over the money.
Jean Kasem says her husband’s children, Kerri, Julie and Michael, were only after his money and that eventually her husband cut them off financially.
“It was always all about the money,” she says. “We became the bank of Kasem – we were the personal ATM machine.”
She claims the children were furious and initiated a premeditated plan that led to their father’s death.
Kerri Kasem and her siblings say it’s not true.
“The only thing she ever wanted from my dad is money,” Kerri Kasem says. “That’s it.”
“Dad once told me, don’t ever go up against Jean," Kerri Kasem tells Van Sant. "You don’t know what she’s capable of.”
Jean Kasem reveals to Van Sant how she moved her ailing husband from a rehab facility in Santa Monica, Calif., to a friend’s home in Silverdale, Wash. They visit that home, where Casey spent some of his final days. She claims she had to move him there to “protect her husband.”
Then, Jean Kasem says, his children found them and forced him into a hospital where he was ultimately taken off of life support and died.
But Kerri Kasem says it’s not true. She and her siblings blame her father’s death on Jean’s actions. Kerri had a court order that allowed her to take her father to a hospital for care. When Casey arrived at the hospital, his diagnosis was grim. "48 Hours" obtained hospital records indicating that Casey had a stage three ulcer of his back and had suffered septic shock, respiratory failure and a host of other ailments.
Casey’s youngest daughter from his first marriage, Julie Kasem, said: “He was … extremely thin. His face was sunken in.”
Kerri, Julie and Michael Kasem have filed a wrongful death lawsuit against their stepmother, Jean Kasem. Jean has filed a countersuit against her husband’s adult children for the same reasons.
“What she did to my dad was elder abuse,” says Julie Kasem. “Straight and simple.”
What really led to Kasem’s death? This is for certain: While his living relatives continue in a seemingly never-ending battle over his estate, Kasem’s body rests in an unmarked grave in Oslo, Norway.
Catch "48 Hours" at 10 p.m. followed by CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. with Angie Miles, Mike Goldberg and Sean Robertson.