The head of a Washington state funeral home that had initial responsibility for radio personality Casey Kasem says he personally made sure his remains were put on a flight to Montreal last Monday.
Corey Gaffney, the president of Gaffney Funeral Home of Tacoma, says he confirmed the remains arrived in Montreal and media reports suggesting they have disappeared are not true.
Some U.S. media outlets quoted Kasem’s daughter Kerri as saying her father’s remains were missing.
In the months before his death June 15, Kasem’s daughter has been embroiled in a battle with his wife of the past 34 years, Jean Kasem, over the welfare of the legendary radio star.
A death certificate filed in a Washington State court July 15 listed Montreal funeral home Urgel Bourgie as the place of disposition, and July 14 as the date of disposition.
The Montreal funeral home told The Canadian Press on Saturday it had no record of Kasem’s remains as being at the facility or that they were supposed to arrive.
Phil Fredette, head of the Funeral Service Association of Canada, said in an email that funeral homes don’t generally release such information “due to privacy and the Privacy Act in Canada.”
There was no immediate explanation for why Kasem’s remains would have gone to Montreal. Gaffney said he couldn’t comment on why Kasem’s wife picked Montreal.
”What we did was made sure that Casey got to the airport, we released custody of Casey to the airline,” Gaffney said in an interview Saturday night.
“The airline signed for that and acknowledged that and then at that point we returned to our office, tracked his flight to Montreal, confirmed that he had arrived, reported that to Mrs. Kasem.”
”When he landed in Montreal, I ceased being the funeral director in charge.”
A judge granted Kerri Kasem a temporary restraining order preventing her father’s wife from cremating his remains, but her lawyer told The Associated Press that when he approached the Tacoma funeral home with a copy of the restraining order, he was told it no longer had the remains.
“They said they could not disclose where he had gone or where he would end up,” said the lawyer, Scott Winship.
The death certificate was filled out by Jean Kasem and listed an address in Jerusalem, Israel, according to a copy filed in Pierce County Superior Court.
Teruyuki Olsen, a lawyer for Kasem’s wife, refused to comment Friday or provide any information about what happened to Kasem’s body.
Kasem, the radio host of “American Top 40” was 82 when he died last month.
Kerri Kasem, one of three children from Kasem’s first marriage, also asked a judge last week for authorization to seek an autopsy on her father as well as a temporary restraining order to ensure his body was held in cold storage and not cremated until that autopsy is completed.
Judge Ronald Culpepper ordered Jean Kasem to ensure that the radio host’s remains were preserved and that his body stayed at the Tacoma funeral home until the court decided on the autopsy petition following a July 25 hearing.
The story has created an international stir with mainstream and entertainment media outlets as far away as the United Kingdom running stories on the latest developments.
“Location of Casey Kasem’s Body Suddenly Unknown,” said the headline on Rolling Stone’s website.
“Casey Kasem body missing,” said TMZ.
With files from The Associated Press