By The Associated Press
LOS ANGELES — Few people roll like Michaele Salahi and her husband, Tareq, late of “The Real Housewives of D.C.” and originally infamous for allegedly crashing a state dinner at the White House.
Depending on when a person checked in on the Salahi drama Wednesday, Michaele was either kidnapped, according to Tareq, or just fine, according to police. Then there was the part about Michaele running off with a guy from a rock band.
But more about Journey guitarist Neal Schon later. Seriously. After the police stuff, and before the Montel Williams stuff.
Tareq reported Michaele missing very late Tuesday night, telling law enforcement that his wife had been gone for six hours, the North Virginia Daily reported. She’d called him from a cellphone with an Oregon number, he said, to tell him she was fine and on her way to her mom’s house.
He said that after talking to his mother-in-law, who according to TMZ told Tareq she didn’t know what was up with Michaele, he feared a kidnapping. The former house-husband of D.C. told NBC that his wife’s “cryptic” behavior during the call made him think she was trying to convey a message to him in code, the way they’d play-acted in the past in case either one were, you know, kidnapped.
“I swear to God,” Tareq told NBC, denying that the kidnap report was a publicity stunt. “I’m missing my wife,” he sobbed, breaking down in tears.
The Sheriff’s Department in Virginia’s Warren County then issued a statement Wednesday afternoon saying essentially not to worry — officials had been in touch with Michaele and were confident nobody had been kidnapped.
“She seemed calm, was engaged in conversation, and assured the deputy that she had left the residence with a good friend and was where she wanted to be,” authorities said. She allegedly didn’t want her husband knowing where she was.
Tareq Salahi told NBC a different story. “I think she’s being forced by, whatever this Oregon phone number is, she’s being forced to say she’s OK,” he said. “She’s being forced to to say this to the local authorities.” The couple had frequently dealt with stalkers and death threats, according to Tareq.
But the best was yet to come.
It seems Michaele had actually run off with Journey lead guitarist Neal Schon in Tennessee on Wednesday, according to TMZ, which got confirmation from the band’s rep that “nobody kidnapped her and they are in Memphis together.” Mrs. Salahi and Schon had even hung out together in the past, including with Mr. Salahi at a party at the Salahi family’s winery. It was what the missus called an “intimate and passionate relationship,” the celeb website said.
Of possible interest to those who graduated high school in the early 1980s: Foreigner and Night Ranger were opening for Journey on Wednesday night in Memphis.
The drama around the non-kidnapping came just ahead of Sunday’s scheduled auction of Oasis Vineyards assets — an auction related the winery’s 2008 bankruptcy filing. Though the Hume, Va., winery is not on the block, bids can be placed Sunday in person or online on items including winemaking supplies, kitchen and catering equipment, trucks and tractors, more than 200 cases of various wines, and about 5,000 bottles of unfinished sparkling wine currently en tirage. Oasis was founded in 1977 by Tareq’s parents.
Also on the Salahis’ dance card: A Sept. 24 event at the Oasis that’s being billed as a charity fundraiser, with “a portion of proceeds going to benefit the National Multiple Sclerosis Society.”
At least that’s how it’s now being billed, after Montel Williams’ legal team sent a cease-and-desist letter Aug. 25 demanding that the TV personality’s name and the name of his foundation be removed from any materials associated with the $150-a-ticket event.
“I have never met, never spoken with, never been involved with anything to do with these people,” Williams told the Los Angeles Times shortly after learning someone had been marketing “A Hollywood Oasis — When Hollywood Glamour Meets the Capital Region” with an assertion that he would be attending, and that a portion of proceeds would go to the Montel Williams MS Foundation.
“It appears that the Salahis, whose bizarre behavior has been widely reported, are attempting to piggyback off of Montel’s record of advocacy on behalf of MS sufferers worldwide to advance the apparent re-opening of their failed winery,” rep Jonathan Franks said in an Aug. 26 statement on Montel’s behalf, adding that Team Montel had that day been contacted by multiple governmental agencies investigating the group responsible for the event. Williams’ people intended to cooperate with authorities, Franks said.