Dennis Day, Disney Mouseketeer Who Went Missing, Dead at 76

Former Mouseketeer Dennis Day has been found dead at the age of 76.

On Thursday, the Oregon State Medical Examiner's Office confirmed that the body they had found in Day's Phoenix home was the child star's.

Oregon State Police announced the news Thursday, as it took some time for them to identify the remains — first discovering them on April 4 — because of their poor condition, which enabled them from using dental records or DNA, Caption Timothy Fox of the Oregon State Police told PEOPLE.

It's unclear where Day's remains were found inside the home that he and husband Ernie Caswell shared. It's also unclear if the remains had been there since he first went missing on July 15 — though Fox said the couple's home was searched when Day disappeared last summer.

The former child star and entertainer was reported missing in February and had been out of contact for nearly a year at the time of his death.

Caswell, meanwhile, who suffers from "age-related memory loss," has been living at a care facility.

The former Mousketeer's death is still currently under investigation by the Oregon State Police.

Day's family issued a statement on the Facebook page that was originally set up to help find him.

“We are truly thankful to all of you for your love and support. Please keep Ernie in your prayers during this extremely difficult time,” they wrote. “Our family is truly thankful to the Oregon State Police for helping to bring closure to our family so that we can finally lay Dennis to rest. We love you Brother & Uncle Dennis!”

The 76-year-old was known as one of the most famous child actors of his time as part of the original Mickey Mouse Club in the 1950s. Day was part of the famous Disney creation for two years before moving on to a career of performing, singing and dancing for audiences across the country.

Day's time as a Mouseketeer might've been short, but he joined with the other members of the original Mickey Mouse Club in making their mark in pop culture history. His name sadly returned to the headlines earlier in 2019 after it was reported that he had gone missing since July 15, 2018.

Day's husband, Ernie Caswell, had initially reported the former performer missing in July 2018 according to The Oregonian after he had stopped visiting the hospital. Caswell was unable to reach out himself due to a battle with dementia and his listing as the sole family member on Day's records.

"Ernie was in the hospital at that time, and realized Dennis hadn't come to visit him in a few weeks," Day's sister Neida told NBC News back in February. "So he had someone from the hospital call the police and report Dennis as missing."

The family didn't receive any official word until December when they were made aware of a local news report. His sister noted that she called the police soon after viewing the ad and immediately got the whole family involved in the search. According to USA Today, they feared the worst for Day back in February.

"The way it looks now, unless we find a body, we're not going to find him," his sister said at the time. The outlet added that the family had been frustrated by the investigation throughout. According to witnesses at the time, Day left his home on foot the day he disappeared and "uncharacteristically" left his dog with a neighbor according to the New York Post.

0comments

Concerned friends, family, and fans started a Facebook page to look for leads on the late performer's whereabouts. The "Help Us Find Dennis Day" page had at least 750 members involved in trying to find the former Mouseketeer.

“We are devastated," the later performer's niece, Denise, told Dateline according to The Oregonian. “We had no idea anything was happening, and six months into it, we figured it out. We should have been notified.”