A body found at the Oregon home of an original member of Disney’s “The Mickey Mouse Club” has been confirmed to be former Mouseketeer Dennis Day, state police and relatives said.
Day, 76, who was among the show’s original cast of child actors in the 1950s, was reported missing in July by his husband, Ernie Caswell, who was hospitalized at the time and suffers from memory loss, the Oregonian reports.
A body was then found in April at Day’s home in Phoenix, Oregon, and state police confirmed Thursday that a medical examiner’s office has identified the remains as the missing man, who “uncharacteristically” left his dog with a friend prior to his disappearance, according to missing persons reports.
“Despite their efforts, investigators were unable to utilize dental records or DNA due to the condition of the remains,” state police said in a statement. “The investigation remains ongoing by the Oregon State Police.”
Day’s niece Janel Woolsey Showers, thanked investigators for bringing closure to the former actor’s family in a Facebook page set up to help find him.
“The cause of death is under investigation by the Oregon State Police so we will not be making any comments or answering any questions at this time,” Showers wrote. “We are truly thankful to all of you for your love and support.”
Day’s sister, Nelda Adkins, told “Dateline NBC” in February that her brother was 12 years old when he was signed by Disney to appear as a Mousekeeter in 1955. He was then retained for the show’s second season before his run ended in 1957, she said.
Day later left the family’s California home when he turned 18 and moved to San Francisco, where he felt he’d be more comfortable living as a gay man, Adkins said. Day then moved to Oregon in the 1980s with Caswell, whom he later married.
“Dennis would call and tell my mom — and tell her he met this wonderful man,” Adkins told “Dateline NBC.” “Ernie started coming to Christmas every year. He was part of our family.”
Day’s relatives also accused police of conducting a “poorly handled” investigation into his disappearance.
“We had no idea anything was happening and six months into it, we figured it out,” Day’s niece Denise told “Dateline NBC.” “We are devastated by the whole thing. We just know someone knows something.”
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