'Real Housewives' Star Michaele Salahi's 'Kidnapping' Sparks Accusations of Publicity Stunt
Hours after Tareq Salahi made a public plea to help find his missing wife Michaele, her whereabouts have come to light -- but the couple is being accused of setting up an elaborate publicity stunt.
Late Wednesday, TMZ reported that The Real Housewives of D.C. star had "run off" with Neal Schon, the lead guitarist for Journey.
A rep for the group confirmed that Salahi and Schon are in Memphis, where Journey is set to perform with Foreigner.
"Nobody kidnapped her, and they are in Memphis together," a spokesperson for Scoop Marketing, which reps Journey, told TMZ.
The Salahis came to fame after they were accused of crashing a White House state dinner in 2009; they deny the allegations. The couple then went on to appear in Bravo's Real Housewives of D.C., which lasted only one season.
And now, several media reports questioned the truth about the entire "kidnapping" incident.
"'Real Housewives of D.C.' Michaele Salahi Kidnapped: Truth or Publicity Stunt?" read a headline in the International Business Times that was echoed by many other media outlets.
"Is this the end of the Tareq and Michaele love story? Or just another darn publicity stunt?" the Washington Post's blog The Reliance Source asked.
The Post also raised the question to Journey's rep about whether Schon might be looking to get into reality TV.
"Absolutely not," she replied.
Meanwhile, the New York Daily News questioned the credibility of the Salahis.
"Although the band's rep confirmed her whereabouts, it's hard to believe anything concerning the Salahis, famous for crashing a White House dinner party in 2009," according to the Daily News. "The couple is well known for their attention-seeking ways. Earlier this year, Michaele was kicked off Celebrity Rehab after VH1 said she 'did not meet such criteria' to participate on the show."
The Hartford (Conn.) Pop Culture Examiner also chimed in: "Now that they are without a vessel of fame, it could be this is a stunt. The two are all about getting their name up and lights, so maybe the authorities are looking at the kidnapping claims as just that."
Still, the Examiner argued that if it is a stunt, it is "ingenious" since they broke no laws.
"With their desperate attempts to extend their 15 minutes of fame beyond the Real Housewives of D.C., it looked like Tareq's kidnapping claim could have been a sick publicity stunt," the Wire wrote. "That could still be the case. Or it could be that it's a publicity stunt, but poor old Tareq isn't in on it."
According to TMZ, Schon and Michaele Salahi have dated in the past; the site also posted a photo of the Salahis taken with Schon a year ago. And the band reportedly played at Salahi-run polo matches, according to the Washington Post.
On Wednesday, Tareq Salahi told TMZ he hadn't seen his wife since 11 a.m. Tuesday; she told him she was going to see her hairstylist, but didn't make the appointment, and he hadn't seen her since.
He also asked the public to help find his wife, saying he believed that she "may have been kidnapped or abducted and being held under duress and forced to tell persons, including authorities, she is OK."
Later in the day, Virginia's Warren County Sheriff's Office issued a statement saying that officials had spoken to her and that she was "fine" but "did not want to be home right now," ABCNews.com reported. She also said she did want her husband to know where she was.