The exploits of Oscar-nominated actor Randy Quaid and his wife, Evi, have taken a turn that's bizarre even by Hollywood standards. The couple seek asylum in Canada, claiming they fear for their lives.
The increasingly eccentric duo, who are wanted in California for allegedly skipping out on a hefty hotel bill and for vandalizing a house they once owned, fled north of the border earlier this month, and now claim they are the targets of a mysterious clan they believe murdered actors Heath Ledger and David Carradine. (Ledger died of a drug overdose in 2008 and Carradine was found dead, apparently from accidental asphyxiation, last year.)
"Hollywood is murdering its movie stars," Evi Quaid said in Vancouver last week. She and Randy Quaid had been released on $10,000 bail following their arrest in Vancouver on outstanding warrants from California.
Their lawyer, who has declined interview requests, has said Canadian asylum will save his clients' lives. They are due to appear before the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Board Thursday, the Vancouver Sun reported.
The two have sent messages back to the U.S., saying they will be killed by a group they called the Star Whackers.
"This is a bizarre tale indeed," former prosecutor Robin Sax told "Good Morning America" today. "They continue to think they can get away with the crime they committed."
Sax said that while it would normally be unlikely that the state of California and the governments of Canada and the United States would sink vast resources into extraditing a couple wanted for fairly innocuous charges, the Quaids continual flouting of the law and their Hollywood status may be a factor.
"Their behavior keeps raising the odds … that the court would consider jail," she said. "I think that we're going to see this move along fairly quickly because of Canada's cooperation with the United States."
Quaid, the older brother of actor Dennis Quaid, was considered a talented actor, well-known for his roles in the "National Lampoon" series as well as "Independence Day" and "Brokeback Mountain."
Last week, a judge issued two $50,000 arrest warrants for the Quaids, who were no-shows at a court hearing related to their arrests last month on suspicion that they illegally squatted at the guest house of a Montecito home they once owned, The Associated Press reported.
Evi and Randy Quaid each face a felony vandalism charge.
The Quaids' legal troubles first surfaced in 2009 when they were arrested in Texas for allegedly skipping out on a $10,000 bill from a posh Santa Barbara, Calif., hotel.
The arrest seemed to kick off a downward spiral of missed court dates, mug shots and accusations that they moved back into a house they once owned and then trashed the place.
"It amounts to pretending that something distressing doesn't exist, otherwise called denial," said Paul S. Appelbaum, a psychiatrist and professor of psychiatry, medicine and law at Columbia University. "At some level, most people will register that the summons to appear in court is for them, but it's what the mind does with that information that's important."
Appelbaum noted that peer groups can influence how people respond to court dates by saying, "Oh, you don't have to go." And, in some cases, he said, all you need for a peer group is one person, who can be your spouse or other intimate.