Despite a dementia diagnosis, Ernie Caswell noticed when his partner of 46 years failed to visit him in the hospital last summer. It was out of character for Dennis Day—an actor and original Mouseketeer on The Mickey Mouse Club, per the Mail Tribune—who rarely left Caswell's side. Day "doesn't even leave his house to travel anywhere," his niece, Denise Norris, tells NBC News. "The last time he left his town was [to] come to his mother's funeral. And that was 12 years ago." Yet Day, of Phoenix, Ore., hasn’t been seen since Caswell filed a missing persons report last July. Members of Day's extended family, who last visited in June 2017, only learned he was missing after a January news report. Police then told Day's sister that a roommate reported he'd left to visit friends. Nelda Adkins says Day's car was left behind, along with the pets he loved "like children."
Still, the car was later found along the Oregon coast, but "there was no evidence of a crime," Lt. Jeff Price tells KOBI. He says there's also no evidence to support a letter in which Day supposedly accused the roommate of assaulting him "on an occasion." Searches of his home, a nearby graveyard, and a creek have failed to turn up any sign of the former Mouseketeer, whose bank accounts and credit cards haven't been used. As he didn't use social media and had only a prepaid cellphone, it's difficult to glean more. "We're just kind of lost with what to do, or how to find him," Norris tells NBC. "He's not the type of person who would just disappear. Especially with his significant other being in the hospital—he was very dedicated to him." Caswell has since moved to an assisted living facility. Adkins says he recognizes friends and is "doing well," considering. (Read more missing person stories.)