By Josh Levs and Jane Caffrey, (CNN) — He’s a radio icon and onetime voice of a beloved cartoon character. Now 82, Casey Kasem is suffering from Lewy body disease — a common cause of dementia, a spokesman for his daughter told CNN Tuesday.
A family battle has left his children and a judge worried about his safety.
Judge Daniel Murphy on Monday named Kasem’s daughter Kerri the temporary conservator until a June 20 hearing. But she can’t take on the responsibility without knowing where he is. And Kerri Kasem says she believes her father’s wife “fled the country (or possibly went to an Indian Reservation) with my Dad because she knew I would win in court today,” she wrote on Facebook. The judge also ordered authorities to look for him. “Please pray that he is safe,” Kerri Kasem said.
Murphy ordered that Casey Kasem’s whereabouts be disclosed, according to Troy Martin, attorney for Kerri Kasem.
“Justice was finally served! I just won temporary conservatorship over my father’s healthcare. We have been vindicated by the court. Thank you for your prayers, well wishes and support through this entire ordeal,” Kerri Kasem wrote.
After becoming conservator on Monday, Kerri Kasem got access to her father’s doctors and medical records. That’s when she learned that he had Lewy body, rather than Parkinson’s disease, said her spokesman Danny Deraney. Previously, the children had said in court papers that they were told their father had Parkinson’s disease.
Lewy body is dementia is the second most common type of progressive dementia after Alzheimer’s, according to the Mayo Clinic. It can be hard to diagnose because Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s cause similar symptoms, according to the National Institutes of Health.
Last year, a judge ruled that Kasem was being well cared for by his wife, Jean Kasem. The judge denied a request by Kasem’s children that a temporary conservator be appointed.
Attempts to contact Jean Kasem’s attorney Monday and Tuesday were unsuccessful.
Kasem’s daughter Julie Kasem and her husband, Dr. Jamil Aboulhosn, filed the previous conservatorship petition, claiming the retired radio host “has been isolated from his daughters, friends and other family” by his wife.
In November, Jean Kasem offered a very different description.
“These children single-handedly and irreparably shattered the lives of their father, his wife and youngest daughter, the calm of their home and their neighborhood by engaging in uncalled for public demonstrations and personal attacks in the media,” she said in court papers, according to CNN affiliate KCBS. “They are doing so with a professionally orchestrated media and legal campaign that has disgraced their father and vilified their stepmother.”
The children “falsely claim that their stepmother is wicked and is keeping her husband prisoner in his home behind closed doors and that they no longer have access to him through no fault of their own,” she added. “… For reasons they know all too well, their presence at this state would be toxic and extremely distressing for Casey, Jean and their daughter, Liberty, who have had enough of their cruelty.”
In December, Kerri Kasem told CNN that her stepmother was preventing Kasem’s children from visiting their ailing father.
“It’s been a very long time. We saw this coming. We weren’t blindsided by this,” she said at the time. “This is a man we saw every single week, talked to him every single day on the phone until he lost his voice. We are an extremely close knit family, extremely, and his family means more to him than anything,”
“We tried everything to get her to let us see him when she stopped bringing him over to the house. She had an assistant bring him over to the house so we could see him every weekend. She stopped. My sister went there, knocked on the door and she was escorted off the property.”
The petition last year said that Julie Kasem and her husband had been unable to check on Kasem’s health even though her father signed papers in 2007 giving them the power of attorney over his heath care in the event he was unable to make his own health decisions.
They “have been prevented from exercising their duties” by Jean Kasem, who has been married to the retired radio host for three decades, the filing said.
“There is no communication between Jean and us and his daughters,” said brother Mouner Kasem. “We have no knowledge of how he is, what he’s doing, if he’s better, if he’s worse, and we’re scared that we’ll never see him again.”
Casey Kasem, who for decades hosted radio music countdown shows “American Top 40” and “Casey’s Top 40,” is suffering from Parkinson’s disease and “may have early onset Parkinson’s dementia,” according to a court filing. He retired in 2009.
Besides the famed countdown shows, Kasem was also the voice of Shaggy in the cartoon “Scooby-Doo” and an announcer for NBC. He was a popular DJ and occasional actor before “American Top 40” began in 1970.
Jean Kasem, 60 this year, was an actress with roles in “Ghostbusters” and “Cheers,” according to the Internet Movie Database.
CNN’s Alan Duke and Dana Ford contributed to this report.