RHAMES email@example.com_county.toronto.globe_and_mail 2007-08-08 published
Death of Canadian at actor's home a mystery
Coroner rules out dog bites and heart attack in investigation of what happened to scriptwriter Jacob ADAM/ADAMS
By Unnati GANDHI, Page 3
The last time anyone saw Jacob ADAM/ADAMS alive, he was playing with his friend Ving RHAMES's four large dogs.
The next morning, the Canadian scriptwriter was found dead on the actor's front lawn in affluent West Los Angeles, dog bites and blood all over his chest, legs and arms.
But what happened in those intervening hours has everyone from police to Friends scratching their heads. An autopsy yesterday found the 40-year-old did not die as a result of the bites, and that he was healthy in every other way.
Police say Mr. ADAM/ADAMS, who had been living at the Mission Impossible co-star's home for the past two years and worked as his professional stand-in, was seen outside the Brentwood, California., home at about 8 p.m. last Thursday. Half an hour later, Friends tried calling him but got no answer.
Whatever spurred one of the 90-kilogram mastiffs to give chase had Mr. ADAM/ADAMS running so hard that police found his shoes more than nine metres from where his body was discovered.
"He made it to the gate, he got the gate closed to keep the dogs inside that grassy area, and he collapsed on the other side of that gate, about three feet from it," said West Los Angeles Lieutenant Ray Lombardo.
When police arrived, the dogs - one with blood on its right forepaw the other so old it hardly had any teeth - were running around freely on the lawn. Mr. ADAM/ADAMS was pronounced dead at the scene.
Yesterday, the dogs were still in the custody of animal control.
Mr. RHAMES's wife told police yesterday that the dogs, which the family has owned for about seven years, were very gentle.
"She said she has two young children and that the dogs had never viciously turned on anybody," Lt. Lombardo said.
Most of the bites were superficial, the Los Angeles coroner's office said yesterday. It was also determined that Mr. ADAM/ADAMS did not die of a heart attack and did not have any clogged arteries. The body is now being sent in for toxicology tests.
"At this point, it's simply a mystery. We're ruling it an undetermined death," Lt. Lombardo said.
He believes the dogs - "they're big dogs; they look like lions," he said - sensed something was wrong with Mr. ADAM/ADAMS and were trying to help him by pulling on him. There were no bites on the head or neck.
Mr. ADAM/ADAMS, who is from the Toronto area, had met the Pulp Fiction actor several years ago on the Canadian set for Kojak, a made-for-television movie in which Mr. RHAMES played a police detective. Mr. ADAM/ADAMS had written that film's script.
The two men got along very well in a short time and became good Friends.
"He took a real liking to Jacob," Anne DODDS, a long-time friend of Mr. ADAM/ADAMS, said yesterday. Mr. RHAMES then asked Mr. ADAM/ADAMS if he would like to work for him.
"He had apparently said to Jacob, 'When I'm here, I want you to stand in for me, but when I'm not here, treat my home in Vancouver, treat my home in Los Angeles, as your own home,'" Ms. DODDS said in an interview.
"This man, when he was a friend, he was a friend," Ms. DODDS said of Mr. ADAM/ADAMS. "If you ever had a down time, he'd give you that lift to make you feel better about yourself."
With that, Mr. ADAM/ADAMS moved to Los Angeles two years ago, where he lived in Mr. RHAMES's estate with his wife and two young children. Mr. ADAM/ADAMS is not married and recently got his green card.
The deal was that whenever Mr. RHAMES was out of town - he's currently in Europe - Mr. ADAM/ADAMS would take care of the "odds and ends" around the house, police said.
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