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It seemed like a fine idea at the time, Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller.
The Two and a Half Men star looked happy again after weathering a nasty custody battle with ex-wife Denise Richards over their young daughters, Lola and Sam, Richards having alleged in their divorce filings that Sheen was drinking and doing drugs again, and had turned violent at times.
Marrying Mueller, whom not much was known about other than she worked in real estate, seemed like a fresh start for the actor, one of the highest-paid on TV.
They tied the knot on May 30, 2008, and by the time Mueller walked the Emmys red carpet with her nominated husband that September in a flowing silver gown, she was pregnant with the couple's twin sons, Bob and Max. They were born on March 15, 2009.
"He's a family man—now he has three daughters and two sons. He's a wonderful father," Sheen's rep said at the time.
But then that happy domestic picture was ripped right off the wall.
On Christmas morning in 2009, nine months after the twins were born, Sheen was arrested in Aspen, Colo., on domestic violence-related charges, Mueller having told police (per their report) that her husband had held a knife to her throat and said, "You better be in fear."
He posted an $8,500 bond, Mueller tried to recant her statement to police, and Sheen insisted that his wife was the aggressor, but it was in the hands of authorities by then and a temporary protection order was issued to keep them apart. Sheen had reportedly told the cops that Mueller got jealous because he had "shared a song for his daughter, whom he fathered with another woman," and then Sheen got angry because Mueller threatened to divorce him and get sole custody of their sons.
It seemed hard to believe that Sheen wasn't at fault, given his turbulent history, but eventually it would become clear that both husband and wife were battling various demons.
Both Sheen and Mueller checked into rehab after the incident. The actor later pleaded guilty in August 2010 in the Aspen case to a reduced charge of misdemeanor assault that allowed him to spend more time at Malibu treatment center Promises in lieu of jail, as well as spend three months on probation and undergo 36 hours of domestic violence counseling.
"I look forward to complying with the court's decision, getting on with my life and putting this behind me," the star said.
Two and a Half Men was still chugging along as TV's top-rated sitcom and Sheen's manager, Mark Burg, told CNN that the show wouldn't miss a beat. "Thankfully, the Pitkin County court is letting him keep three or four hundred people employed each week. We employ a lot of people," Burg said. "And Charlie, without him, there is no show."
That's certainly what everyone thought at the time.
Barely two months later, however, in October 2010 Sheen was hospitalized for what was officially deemed an adverse reaction to medication after he flew into a naked rage at the Plaza Hotel in New York and cops were called to respond to an "emotionally disturbed person." Denise Richards and their daughters were also staying at the hotel, in a separate suite, and porn actress Capri Anderson was in Sheen's room at the time.
On Nov. 1, 2010, both Sheen and Mueller filed for divorce, each requesting joint custody of Bob and Max. Sheen listed their date of separation as Dec. 25, 2009, the day of the Aspen fight.
Since they had actually been separated for almost a year, they had apparently reached a financial agreement beforehand that had Sheen paying Mueller $55,000 a month in child support, as well as a $1 million to take care of their house and a lump sum of more than $750,000. When their divorce was finalized in February 2011, the $55K arrangement stood, and the deal stipulated that in no way would Mueller be getting any less than Richards was also getting for monthly child support.
Before they settled, Mueller had checked into rehab once again and Sheen was seeking primary custody, which he was ultimately denied; Mueller was said to be similarly concerned about her children's welfare because Sheen had since taken up with a series of "goddesses," to quote him, and was bragging about his partying exploits.
And while Sheen was infamously about to achieve a whole new level of celebrity meltdown that resulted in his firing from Two and a Half Men (and his successful lawsuit against CBS to recoup the money he was owed), Mueller was unable to flip the switch on life after their divorce, either.
Sheen publicly declared his L.A. home the "Sober Valley Lodge" after drug tests became part of the exes' routine in order to maintain joint custody of their kids, but they were reportedly living primarily with Brooke during that time.
Back in Aspen, she was arrested in December 2011 at a nightclub for suspicion of assault and cocaine possession. Yale Galanter, who had represented Sheen in his Aspen assault case, appeared as her attorney. (The same prosecutor was on the case, too, Chief Deputy Assistant District Attorney Arnold Mordkin.)
Mueller returned to rehab in May 2012—a planned, voluntary check-in to manage her ongoing treatment, according to her rep at the time—and was sentenced to probation in the Aspen nightclub case. The mother of two checked into treatment again that December due to a problem with Adderall, another step in her battle against addiction, her lawyer said.
The plot thickened just after New Year's in 2013, when TMZ reported that Mueller had pocketed a roughly $250,000 settlement from Canyon Ranch, one of the various places she had sought treatment, over a breach of confidentiality.
Meanwhile, Sheen was somehow rebounding with Anger Management on FX, and by May 3, 2013, Denise Richards was caring for Mueller and Sheen's twins after child services removed the kids from Mueller's home, deeming the environment "unsafe."
Mueller subsequently checked into UCLA Medical Center to seek further treatment for prescription drug abuse, her rep telling USA Today, "Brooke misses her children, and wants to get healthy so she can resume her life and get back to being a mom." And this was not the first time Richards had helped out when Mueller was struggling to get clean.
"They're our family and they're Sam and Lola's brothers and I can't imagine growing up without my sister, so anytime she needs help, I'm there for the boys," the Wild Things star had told Access Hollywood in December, when Mueller was treating her Adderall addiction. "They're the best big sisters to [the boys] and they love them."
"Charlie supports the actions of the Department of Children and Family Services," Sheen's rep said that May. "He knows Max and Bob are safe and in a stable, loving environment with Denise and the boys' sisters."
Sheen couldn't have felt more differently when it came to Mueller, who eventually resumed having supervised visits with the boys.
In November 2013, the actor called TMZ to tell them he had reported Mueller to the DCFS again on the eve of what was supposed to be her first unsupervised overnight with their sons. He called her "as awful a parent and a person as you can possibly draw up," the site reported.
The back-and-forth quieted down as Mueller got a handle on her recovery and Sheen directed his ire back to Richards, tweeting in June 2015, "Brooke M is a sexy rok star whom I adore D Richards a heretic washed up piglet Shame pile Happy Father's Day!!!"
It wouldn't be for a few months that the public knew that, amid his incoherent rant, he had fallen deathly ill.
On Nov. 17, 2016, Sheen opened up on Today about being diagnosed HIV-positive in 2012, or "roughly four years ago."
"I have to put a stop to this onslaught, this barrage of attacks and of sub-truths and very harmful and mercurial stories that are about me, threatening the health of so many others, which couldn't be further from the truth." He said that revealing the truth was akin to being let out of prison, and claimed that he'd been paying people off to keep quiet.
Amid all the reactions to Sheen's shocking admission, Mueller's rep released a statement reading, "Brooke has been inundated with calls from friends and family. To put their minds at ease, Brooke can confirm that she and the boys are not HIV positive."
With nothing seeming like an isolated incident anymore, Sheen filed paperwork in March requesting to have his monthly $55,000 child support commitment to Mueller reduced, saying he made nowhere near what he made when he agreed to it; she then went after him in court this past April, alleging he was $89,000 behind in child support payments. (Richards had sued him in January, alleging he wasn't abiding by the terms of the trust he set up for their daughters.)
The family suffered a scare today when Salt Lake City police were called to search for Mueller and their now 7-year-old sons after she showed up in the wee hours barefoot at a bar with the kids, nanny in tow, and the two proceeded to have an argument. Cops were called but the group took off before they arrived, hence the search. Mueller called the cops at around 6:30 a.m. but they were unable to locate her then.
E! News has confirmed that police have since made contact with Mueller and the incident turned into a standard welfare check, after which she was hospitalized for further evaluation. No charges have been filed and there's no word of an investigation pending. Mueller moved to Utah for a particular treatment program and remains there for outpatient care.
"I'm just trying to get my kids home safe," Sheen told TMZ while the group was still missing. "I have no other details that relate to the ongoing event."