Police say former Mousekeeter death investigation far from over

PHOENIX, Ore. —  In January, NBC5 News first broke the story of a missing Disney Mouseketeer, Dennis Day, who vanished from his Phoenix home a year ago.

The news came as a shock to Day’s family who said they didn’t even realize he was missing.

Back in July of 2018, police say Day walked down the driveway of his Pine Street home and said he was leaving for a few days to visit friends.

That’s the last anyone ever saw or heard from him.

Day’s car also went missing but was later found along the Oregon Coast after police responded to a domestic disturbance on Hwy 42 near milepost 30 in Coos County.

Police say a man and woman were in possession of Day’s car. Both of whom, police say, took Day’s car without his permission and were “unfamiliar” to Day and his partner, Henry (Ernie) Caswell.

With no sign of Day, the Phoenix Police Department conducted multiple welfare checks at his home.

By August, neighbors started complaining about a bad smell coming from Day’s home. But when police arrived, they didn’t find or smell anything.

Several months later, in April, police uncovered a badly decomposed body in Day’s home. Without dental records, police tried to use the DNA of Day’s half-sister to identify the body.

They sent the DNA off to a forensic lab in Portland, but police announced on Thursday the results came back “inconclusive.”

“It was very difficult to determine exactly who the person was that we found in that house,” said Sgt. Jeff Proulx, Oregon State Police. “But based on some strong circumstantial evidence that we’ve gathered through the investigation and through the autopsy, we believe that it is Dennis Day.”

OSP says it believes foul play is involved.

At this point, they say they’re re-interviewing people, reviewing evidence, and putting all the pieces together to find out what happened.

This is a developing story; stay with NBC5 News for the latest updates.

Friday afternoon, OSP sent out a detailed timeline of some of the events above:

On July 13, 2018, the Phoenix Police Department and Jackson County Fire District #5 responded to the residence at 510 Pine St. Phoenix, on a medical call.  Henry (aka: Ernie) Caswell (Day’s Husband) had fallen several times. Henry was transported to the hospital and later a care facility where he has been residing since.

On July 17, 2018, the Phoenix Police Department learns that Dennis Day is going to visit friends and would be back in several days. Phoenix Police Department conduct several welfare checks at the residence over the next several weeks.

On July 26, 2018, Oregon State Police responds to a domestic disturbance call on Hwy 42 near milepost 30 in Coos County.  A male and female were in possession of a vehicle that belonged to Dennis Day. The female (driver) was cited for driving while suspended and the vehicle was impounded.

On July 27, 2018, Phoenix Police Department enters Dennis Day as missing in LEDS/NCIC. They then conducted another search of the house and were UTL any persons.

On August 8, 2018, Phoenix Police Department receives a report of “bad smell” coming from 510 Pine St.  Officers respond and notes “nothing observed or smelled in the area”.

On January 28, 2019, a meeting was held involving Phoenix Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s office and the Oregon State Police to discuss the case.  The Sheriff’s office and OSP each provide a detective to assist. 

On April 4, 2019, Phoenix Police Department obtain the use of cadaver dog and locate a body in the house.

On April 4, 2019, the Jackson County Major Assault Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) is activated and the Oregon State Police becomes the lead agency.

On June 6, 2019, the Medical Examiner’s office has identified the body found in the residence under strong circumstantial evidence.

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On June 6, 2019, the Oregon State Medical Examiner’s office identified the body found in the residence listed in previous release by investigation, evidence, and other information as that of missing person, Dennis Day. Despite their efforts, investigators were unable to utilize dental records or DNA due to the condition of the remains.

The investigation remains ongoing by the Oregon State Police.

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On Thursday, April 4, 2019, the Medford Assault and Death Investigation Unit (MADIU) was contacted by the Phoenix Police Department after human remains were discovered at 510 Pine Street in Phoenix, Oregon.

Oregon State Police investigators were assigned to lead the death investigation and are being assisted by the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Medford Police Department, and the Oregon State Police Forensics Lab.

At this time, the human remains have not been identified and the investigation is ongoing.

MADIU consists of investigators from the Jackson County District Attorney’s Office, Medford Police Department, Jackson County Sheriff’s Office, Central Point Police Department, Ashland Police Department, and the Oregon State Police.

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