Randy and Evi Quaid drove across the border into Canada on October 17, 2010 and were arrested four days later in Vancouver, held under the Canadian Immigration and Refugee Protection Act. There were outstanding warrants in California, where the Quaids were facing felony vandalism and misdemeanour trespassing charges. Accused of squatting on and vandalizing a property they once owned, the couple's arrest in Vancouver was big news.
And then the other shoe dropped.
The couple claimed refugee status, saying they were seeking asylum from a murderous cabal of powerful Hollywood lawyers, accountants and estate planners who were targeting celebrities: the "star whackers," as they called them.
Evi says she and her husband are not the first targets, and she names names: Michael Jackson, Heath Ledger, Chris Penn. She has theories.
"I asked a pharmacist in Texas if an entire overdose could be compounded into one pill, so it's like Russian roulette. You get a bottle of whatever it is you're taking. Could one pill have enough to OD? So you don't know? He said absolutely. They're made in Mexico. Absolutely."
Such allegations - along with the Quaids' legal and financial troubles - have raised serious questions about the couple's mental state.
"I know I'm not crazy and I know that Evi's not crazy," Randy told The Globe and Mail.
"Things have been construed and misconstrued and you know the word 'crazy' is thrown about so easily today with celebrities who are sort of like getting out of line, oddball behaviour."
In an article about the couple in Vanity Fair's January issue, there were suggestions from several sources that Evi is the problem; that she has isolated Randy from friends - and, perhaps, sanity.
"Not true at all, not true, no," Randy says, emphatic. "She's been the greatest influence on me ever, of anybody in my life.
"She's an amazing person. She's so misrepresented and misunderstood."
For every accusation against the Quaids - legal or otherwise - they offer an explanation; Evi, most emphatically.
That unpaid $10,000 (U.S.) hotel bill at the San Ysidro Ranch in Santa Barbara? The one that led to charges in 2009 of burglary, conspiracy and defrauding an innkeeper? The hotel had repeatedly put a large charge through on their credit card, Evi says - totalling about $73,000 - which derailed the credit card.
Besides, she says, paying the bills was someone else's job. "Do you think we know how to pay our credit cards? Do you think we even know what a credit card statement looks like? Do you think we know how to write a cheque?"
The case was ultimately settled. The charges against Randy were dropped. Evi, who maintains her innocence, pleaded no contest, paid a fine (using that same credit card, she says, that could not process the hotel bill) and was sentenced to unsupervised probation and 240 hours of community service. She says she's carried out about 50 hours of that, feeding homeless people at a Beverly Hills church on Tuesdays. From Vancouver, she's trying to arrange to send meat down to the church for those meals.
Squatting in the guest house of that Montecito, California property they used to own? They thought they had sold the house years ago, Evi says, but last May, their business manager informed them that the sale had never actually taken place. So they went back to the property they insist they still own.
"It was abandoned!" Evi says. "Our key still fit in the door!"
Randy steps in: "It fit the door to the pool cabana. We didn't go into the house."
They were charged with felony vandalism - indicating that the damage involved exceeds $400 - and misdemeanour trespassing, a charge for unauthorized entry of a dwelling house.
As for escaping to Canada to avoid justice in the U.S., Evi says the warrants hadn't yet been issued when they entered Canada. "To say we had crossed the border with arrest warrants was a total lie. We hadn't. There was no court date. There was no nothing. They really were tracking us, bugging us, hacking us, entrapping us."
Santa Barbara Senior Deputy District Attorney Lee Carter says felony bench warrants were issued on October 18, 2010, but he insists there was a court date when the Quaids crossed into Canada.
"The Quaids posted bail to get out of custody and promised to appear in the Santa Barbara Superior Court on October 18 of 2010," said Carter. "When they didn't appear on October 18 of 2010, the bail bond that had been posted was forfeited, and the felony warrant was issued. We have a specific procedure that has to be followed and that procedure was followed. And the warrants that are currently out for the Quaids are legal, valid warrants."
Carter says the possibility remains that the Quaids could be extradited back to the U.S.
Don Sorochan, the Vancouver lawyer handling the Quaids' international criminal matters, disagrees. "In my reading of the charges that are laid against them, they are not extraditable."Report Typo/Error