The mysterious death of a Mouseketeer

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PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — When Dennis Day was chosen to be one of the original Mousketeers on “The Mickey Mouse Club,” he became an instant star in the early days of TV.

Beginning in 1955, Dennis was one of 17 kids who sang and danced on black-and-white television, entertaining millions who watched the show when they came home from school each day.

After he left the troupe in 1957, he stayed in the entertainment industry for decades but was largely behind the scenes.

In the mid-1980s, he and his husband, Ernie Caswell, moved to Oregon and lived here for the rest of his life.

Earlier this week, a body that was found inside a Phoenix, Oregon home in April was confirmed to be that of Dennis Day. The Oregon State Medical Examiner identified his body with “strong circumstantial evidence,” since it’s believed his body may have been there since July 2018.

His car was found in Coos Bay about 10 days after he was last seen, deepening the mystery of how Dennis Day, Mousketeer, died.


On June 7, 2019, the Oregon State Police released the following timeline of events in the Dennis Day case:

July 13, 2018: Ernie Caswell fell several times at the home he shared with Dennis Day. Emergency responders went to the house at 510 Pine Street and took Caswell to a hospital. He was later taken to a long-term care facility, where he currently lives.

July 17, 2018: Dennis Day was set to visit friends and come back in several days, the Phoenix Police Department learned. Over the next several weeks, officers made welfare checks at the home.

July 26, 2018: A domestic disturbance call in Coos County brought the Oregon State Police to Hwy 42 near milepost 30. There they found a man and woman in Dennis Day’s car. The woman, who was driving, was ticketed for driving with a suspended license and the car was impounded.

July 27, 2018: Phoenix police searched Dennis Day’s house and weren’t able to find anyone inside. He was then listed as a missing person.

August 8, 2018: A “bad smell” was reported to police coming from Dennis Day’s home. Responding officers said they didn’t observe or smell anything in the area.

January 28, 2019: The Jackson County Sheriff’s Office and the Oregon State Police each provide a detective to help the Phoenix Police Department with the investigation.

April 4, 2019: A cadaver dog was brought in to search the house on Pine Street and  found a body. OSP took over the lead in the investigation.

June 6, 2019: Using “strong circumstantial evidence,” the medical examiner ruled the body found in the house was Dennis Day. But officials have not said how or exactly when he died.

Dennis Day was 75 or 76 years old at the time of his death. 

The investigation continues.

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