July 23 (Reuters) - The body of radio personality Casey Kasem, who even before his June death was at the center of a tug-of-war between his wife and his children from a prior marriage, has been flown to Canada from a Washington state funeral home, his longtime former agent said on Wednesday.
Kasem, the former host of the syndicated program "American Top 40," was moved to Canada by his wife, his agent Don Pitts said, after being kept at the Gaffney Funeral Home in Tacoma, Washington. He died on June 15 at age 82.
Candace Corkum, administrative manager for the funeral home, confirmed on Friday that Kasem's body was no longer at the facility. When reached by phone on Wednesday, someone speaking for the home declined further comment.
Kasem had been the focus of a dispute between his three children from his first marriage - Kerri, Julie and Mike - and his second wife, Jean Kasem.
The children said she prevented them from visiting him as he suffered from Lewy body dementia, an illness with symptoms similar to Parkinson's disease. Casey Kasem had wanted to be buried at Forest Lawn cemetery in Glendale, California, said Danny Deraney, a spokesman for the siblings.
Deraney said that while Kasem's wife has the legal right to move the remains without notifying anyone, she should let his friends and family know.
"Right now, she's not divulging that location. For what reasons, I don't know," Deraney said.
A Washington state judge on July 16 forbade movement of the body from the funeral home based on a request by Kerri Kasem to have an autopsy conducted to investigate suspicions of elder abuse, Deraney said.
The order was delivered to the home a day after Kasem's body was moved, CNN reported.
A spokesman for the Santa Monica Police Department said there was an open and ongoing probe into allegations of elder abuse, but declined to provide further detail.
An attorney for Jean Kasem, who married Casey Kasem in 1980, was out of the country and did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Casey Kasem at the peak of his career on "American Top 40" was heard on more than 1,000 stations in 50 countries. He was famed for his tenor voice, and also played the voice of Shaggy, the mystery-solving human pal of a Great Dane in the TV cartoon series "Scooby Doo, Where Are You!" (Reporting by Curtis Skinner in New York; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Eric Beech)
Our Standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.