Family of former Disney Mouseketeer, Dennis Day, suing Phoenix Police for $2.2m after ‘negligent’ investigation

PHOENIX, Ore. – The family of Dennis Day, the original Disney Mouseketeer who was found dead in his home months after he disappeared has now filed a $2.2 million lawsuit against Phoenix Police.

Justice for Dennis Day, that’s what his sister, California woman Nelda Adkins, after keeping quiet for 3 years during the investigation into her brother’s death.

“Nobody cares about you when you’ve been murdered and your body has been desaturated,” said Adkins.

The criminal case is going nowhere, Adkins said it’s because of how police investigated the case. The family finds it hard to believe, considering Day lived just a couple of blocks away from the police department.

“It’s unimaginable. I still have nightmares I still wonder how much he’s suffered. I still wonder if I could have done anything,” said Adkins.

Prosecutors said handyman Daniel Burda, who was living with Day at the time he went missing, shoved the elderly man to the ground in 2018, and let Day die by not taking other actions to prevent it. He’s pleaded not guilty. His case may never go to trial after much of the evidence in the case was deemed inadmissible.

Day’s badly decomposed body was eventually found by police in his own home months after he was reported missing. But Adkins said just because the criminal case may not go anywhere doesn’t mean someone shouldn’t be held accountable.

“Maybe we can help [in] some way so that no other family will have to experience what we had to go through. And what we still are going through because of it,” said Adkins.

The family is now suing the Phoenix Police Department and Lt. Jeffrey Price for leading a careless investigation, ruining evidence, and causing the family emotional distress – both intentionally – and through their own negligence.

The lawsuit was filed last week in Jackson County Circuit Court. It asks for $2.2 million. The Phoenix Police Department has 30 days to respond.

“Police officers, of course, make mistakes in their job. This isn’t that. This is an absolute lack of any effort to find this person despite the overwhelming evidence of where mister day was,” said Erin Gould, the family’s attorney.

The suit said Lt. Price told the family, Day’s home had been searched by a cadaver dog when it hadn’t. When OSP finally took over the case, a dog quickly found what was left of day’s body, under a large mound of clothes.

“Neighbors were calling the police station complaining about smells that were clearly smells of death, of a rotting corpse,” said Gould.

The family hopes if they can’t get closure in criminal court their brother will get justice in civil court.

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