Lieutenant Jeff Price of the Phoenix Police Department said there was one thing that stood out to him while trying to solve the missing person case of original Mickey Mouse Club Mouseketeer Dennis Day.
The now 76-year-old vanished from his Phoenix, Ore., home in July 2018, KOBI-TV first reported.
“His sister doesn’t like it when I say he [and his husband Ernie Caswell] were kind of reclusive,” Price told Fox News. “They didn’t leave the house. They have friends, but not that many. They weren’t social and if you saw the house you would see that they didn’t leave the house. It’s in very bad shape — very, very poor shape.”
Price explained the case was set in motion by Caswell, who has dementia and lives in an assisted living facility. Day reportedly told Caswell he was going to visit friends — and he hasn’t been seen since.
After about two days, Caswell told Price, he was hoping Day would visit him and expressed concern to hospital staff. After hospital staff was unable to contact Day, they notified police to do a welfare check. Price said about four welfare checks were made. Day’s live-in handyman also said Day left voluntarily.
While his bank account has remained untouched since Day was last seen around July 15, his car was discovered about 200 miles away from his home on July 26. The two people driving in the car “were unfamiliar to Day and his partner,” according to Price.
“There was no evidence of any crime or any evidence that Dennis was in the vehicle,” he added.
“People automatically assume something must have happened because you have these two people in his car,” continued Price. “The story I have is the car was taken or possibly given to a transient female for helping the handyman do some work around the house…. But Dennis was already gone at that time.”
Price said Caswell’s current mental state also made it difficult to get crucial details to further help their investigation.
“I told him, ‘The picture I have of Dennis is 10 years old. What does he look like now?’” said Price. “’What’s his hair color?’ ‘What does he wear?’ He couldn’t even tell me… I tell Ernie, ‘Since nobody knows where he is, would you like me to list him as a missing person?’ … And he said yes.”
According to Price, the handyman alleged Day was starting to show signs of his own illness. However, there is no evidence to prove this claim.
“I don’t know of any medical conditions that Dennis has or had at the time,” said Price. “All I know is that the live-in handyman, he believed that Dennis was starting to show some dementia. That’s coming from somebody who himself has some mental issues, mental health issues… I don’t have any confirmation that there are any medical issues on Dennis.”
Price also shared there is no evidence of foul play at this point. Investigators are actively looking to speak with anyone who can provide insight on Day’s current whereabouts.
“At this point, [the case] is still open and obviously I haven’t found Dennis,” said Price. “As far as any leads, I’ve interviewed three people... the two that were in the car and the guy that is staying in the house. Although the female that was in the car, I’d like to interview in person. I’ve only been able to talk to her on the phone… I need evidence to go a certain way, although I do have people on my radar.”
“All I have is a missing person,” added Price. “In the beginning, I had one officer who was told by Dennis’ partner that Dennis said he was leaving for a few days, but didn’t know with who or where he was going. When I talked to the live-in handyman, he said the same thing. So I have two people saying that he left voluntarily, but at the same time, it’s been seven months. That doesn’t make sense... I have my speculations… there’s also the possibility that, because Dennis had been dealing with Ernie for so long, as far as his health declining, that there’s a chance maybe Dennis just walked away… You just never know.”
Day’s sister, Nelda Adkins, told “Dateline” one of her relatives learned her brother was missing following a television report.
“He saw it on the news broadcast and called us immediately,” Adkins told “Dateline.” “I called Phoenix Police Department the very next day and we’ve been working on it ever since. The whole family got in on it.”
Adkins said police did not contact her family because “they didn’t have any record of family” besides Caswell. She is trying to spread awareness of her missing brother through local media and Facebook.
“I wake up every morning with a prayer they will find him and let me know,” she told USA Today. “I’m trying to keep him on everybody’s mind and spread the word as far as possible in case somebody somewhere knows something.”
Day, who was a Mouseketeer from 1955 to 1957, when the show ended, is described as being 5-feet, 7-inches tall with gray/brown hair, weighing about 150 pounds. Anyone with information is asked to call (888) 960-6450.
Fox News’ Kathleen Joyce contributed to this report.