Police investigating the disappearance and subsequent death of original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Dennis Day have been accused of repeatedly walking on a pile of clothing that concealed the 76-year-old’s remains, causing skeletal fractures.
A Tort Claim Notice sent to the Phoenix (Ore.) Police Department and obtained by Fox News alleges that the city, the police department and Lieutenant Jeff Price “acted with negligence and bad faith” while carrying out their investigation.
Price helmed the search for the missing Mouseketeer and is alleged by Day’s family to have “had access to and possession of all evidence sufficient to lead the investigating officer to find Mr. Day’s deceased body.” However, a letter sent by attorney Erin E. Gould claims Price knowingly made false statements about the investigation that stifled any ability to solve the case and begin prosecution of a suspect in a timely manner.
HUMAN REMAINS FOUND AT HOME OF DENNIS DAY, ORIGINAL MOUSEKETEER MISSING FOR MONTHS
“Due to the City of Phoenix Police Department and Lieutenant Jeff Price’s negligence, neglect, and failure to conduct an investigation at even a minimum professional standard, Mr. Day’s body was found in April 2019 and not identified until June 2019,” read the claim. “Worse, Lieutenant Jeff Price made statements that certain investigative tools were used in the Summer of 2018, such as cadaver sniffing dogs, which were knowingly false and further delayed the investigation.”
Daniel James Burda faces manslaughter and other charges in connection with Dennis Day’s death. (Jackson County Sheriff’s Office via AP)
While Day was last seen alive around July 15, 2018, the notice claims he contacted police days earlier to report that live-in handyman Daniel Burda, had “behaved violently toward him” and asked for advice on how he could have Burda removed from the home.
ORIGINAL MICKEY MOUSE CLUB MOUSEKETEER DENNIS DAY WAS ‘RECLUSIVE’ BEOFRE HE WENT MISSING, LIEUTENANT SAYS
Day was advised that he would need to formally evict Burda from the home if Burda was an official tenant.
Day was reported missing two weeks after his husband, 88-year-old Henry Caswell, was hospitalized following a number of falls in their home. Not long after Day disappeared, 36-year-old Burda was questioned by Phoenix police and was observed on police body-camera footage with “obvious defense wounds on his hands and forearms.”
In August 2018, Phoenix police received a number of 911 calls reporting a “horrific smell” coming from Day’s residence. One of the reports was made by a Meals on Wheels volunteer who delivered food to the residence.
Over the next six months, the claim alleges that police “took no substantive action to attempt to locate Mr. Day despite abundant and obvious evidence that his deceased body was decaying in the Pine Street house and that Mr. Burda was responsible for his death.”
“The Pine Street house is located a mere four blocks, or .3 miles, from the police station in a dense residential area in downtown Phoenix,” the notice claims.
2 OREGON WOMEN ACCUSED OF STEALING FROM A DEAD MOUSEKETEER
Burda, a man with a lengthy rap sheet, was not arrested in connection with Day’s disappearance and death until July 5 of this year, after the investigation had been turned over to the Oregon State Police. Price indicated on the “Vanished” podcast that he never arrested the handyman because he didn’t believe Burda would “stick around” the Phoenix area after killing Day, the notice claims.
Burda was charged with manslaughter, criminally negligent homicide, abuse of a corpse, criminal mistreatment and identity theft, state police said at the time.
According to the Oregonian newspaper, Burda told investigators after his arrest that he pushed Day to the floor and later concealed his body under a pile of clothes. The claim states that police “had stepped on, during three separate searches, causing multiple post mortal skeletal fractures and still did not find him.”
POLICE STYMIED AS ORIGINAL MICKEY MOUSE CLUB MOUSEKETEER DENNIS DAY MISSING SINCE JULY
The local outlet reported, citing court documents, that Burda indicated that he attempted to air out the residence with Day’s remains still inside “because it smelled like death.” He also allegedly tried multiple chemical solutions to clean the area.
In June, two women from southern Oregon were arrested and charged with felony theft of a car and jewelry belonging to Day after his 1990s Ford Escort was discovered about 200 miles away from his home. At the time, Price told Fox News there was no evidence that a crime had been committed.
The family’s claim notice further alleges that they weren’t notified of Day’s disappearance until January 2019 after a local news report covered the case.
“At that point, the heirs applied pressure to the Phoenix Police Department to enlist the help of state police,” the claim read. “Once state police were involved and cadaver dogs were sent to the house, Mr. Day’s decomposed body was found. The body was sent to a lab and later identified months later to in fact be Mr. Day.”
CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP
Although police have not yet reached a determination of Day’s cause of death, a judge determined last month that Burda was mentally unfit to stand trial and committed him to the Oregon State Hospital.
“At this point, proper justice for the death of Mr. Day will not be served, all due to the fact that the City of Phoenix Police and Lieutenant Price handled the missing person investigation with gross negligence and bad faith,” the claim notice alleges.
The Phoenix Police Department did not respond to Fox News’ request for comment.