The stalking of Chris Isaak

Is it a wicked game of celebrity pursuit or retaliation for the singer's satanic verses?

Published October 6, 1999 1:00PM (EDT)

Is Chris Isaak being stalked by a match-happy, potentially murderous stalker? The terminally melancholy crooner is reportedly running scared after two mysterious fires and a spate of threatening letters.

Isaak's San Francisco house was set ablaze on Sept. 10, according to a police report obtained by Salon People. Investigators on the scene say the fire was "intentionally set." The blaze was the second mysterious fire for Isaak in the past few months. During a recent appearance on the Rosie O'Donnell show, Isaak mentioned a previous fire at a house he was in the process of buying outside of San Francisco, though he didn't specify where.

A source close to Isaak says the singer had been getting threatening letters prior to the incident. Isaak is rumored to be making plans to sell the house he's lived in for the last 10 years due to concerns for his safety. And in a recent interview with the online publication Launch, Isaak revealed that his record "Speak of the Devil" had been criticized for what some have called its satanic content. The latest fire raises speculation that the pop star and actor may be the target of a stalker retaliating over the lyrics of his newest release.

"Is there anybody out there who actually believes this is satanic? If there is, please don't write me. Just get in line with the rest of the stalkers," Isaak has said of the controversy.

A San Francisco neighbor of the singer reported hearing a loud pop and flames leaping from inside the garage of the house before dawn, according to the police report. Firefighters managed to douse the blaze before it could cause major damage. Isaak was not at home at the time of the fire.

A resident of the otherwise quiet Sunset District neighborhood reported that fire investigators later discovered evidence of an incendiary device that was deposited in the mail slot of the home. According to official reports, investigators were able to eliminate any accidental cause for the fire. Members of the San Francisco Arson Task Force assigned to investigate the mysterious fire are reportedly reviewing security camera videotape for clues about the identity of the arsonist. Neighbors who say that Isaak is a "nice fellow" and good neighbor also say the singer was very security conscious. Fire investigators refused to comment on what they termed "an ongoing investigation."

Isaak's attachment to the neighborhood, which borders one of his favorite surfing spots, seems obvious. While touring a few weeks ago he talked with an Australian reporter about his close friendship with a 79-year-old neighbor who had recently lost his wife.

For now, Isaak handlers are keeping especially tight-lipped about the fire. Bob Merlis, Isaak's Warner Bothers publicist, refused to comment on any aspect of the suspected arson.

Isaak has had a moderately successful recording and acting career for 14 years. His music recently found its way onto the soundtrack for the movie "Eyes Wide Shut." As an actor Isaak has had smaller parts in nine movies including the recently completed "Blue Ridge Fall," "Silence of The Lambs" and "Little Buddha." Isaak recently signed to appear in David Lynch's sequel to "Wild At Heart," playing the role originated by Nicholas Cage.

By Jon B. Rhine

Jon B. Rhine is a writer living in San Francisco. He has written for Time, Newsweek and the San Francisco Chronicle, among other publications.

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