By LYNN ELBER
AP Entertainment Writer
LOS ANGELES - When Charlie Sheen threatened and maligned his bosses over "Two and a Half Men," it was business and, to some people at least, bizarrely comic. When his estranged wife alleged that she and their twin toddlers were in peril from the TV star, the saga turned ugly.
Sheen's 23-month-old sons were removed from his home Tuesday night after Brooke Mueller Sheen claimed that he threatened her with decapitation, adding a nasty custody battle to the actor's bitter war with the studio and producers who shut down his hit CBS show.
Her claims followed days of sometimes manic, sometimes violence-tinged media interviews by Sheen, part of a public campaign to disprove that he is a drug-using, reckless playboy who was unable or unfit to work on this season's final episodes of TV's No. 1 comedy.
Sheen's grandstanding has fascinated the public, with his Twitter account drawing more than 1 million followers a day after it was created. But Mueller Sheen said in a claim seeking a restraining order filed Tuesday that his "bizarre, disturbing and violent" comments made her fear for the safety of their children because Sheen "does not appear mentally stable."
According to Mueller Sheen's filing, Charlie Sheen has rarely seen the boys in the past year, but took them on Saturday and refused to return them.
According to a sworn declaration filed in the case, she said her husband told her in a phone call Sunday night, "I will cut your head off, put it in a box and send it to your mom!" She also claimed earlier threats and physical abuse.
A court order issued Tuesday and obtained by The Associated Press requires Sheen to stay 100 yards away from Mueller Sheen and their twin sons. Sheen has two other children with former wife Denise Richards.
The twins, Max and Bob, were taken from Sheen's Hollywood Hills home that night and returned to their mother's care. The boys turn 2 on March 14.
A Los Angeles Police Department statement that its officers had removed the boys was incorrect, police Officer Bruce Borihanh said Wednesday. The department was not involved and he didn't know which agency might have been responsible, he said.
Mueller Sheen's attorneys did not immediately respond Wednesday to a query about the event.
Text messages sent to Sheen Wednesday morning for comment were not immediately returned. A phone message left for Sheen's divorce attorney, Mark Gross, was not immediately returned. A hearing on the order is scheduled for March 22.
Earlier, on NBC's "Today" show, Sheen said he was "very calm and focused" about having the children taken away but was ready to fight to get them back.
Moments later, Sheen was asked by reporters outside his home whether the legal move came out of left field for him.
"It came out of the bleachers, actually," he said. "Yeah, I was told a restraining order was being delivered and I thought, 'OK, I can deal with that.' And it was revealed that it was something much more serious."
Asked why Mueller got the court order, he replied, "It's just silly. I think she's latching on to some of this recent press."
In interviews filled with strange comments such as "I got tiger blood, man," Sheen has lobbed vitriol at "Men" executive producer Chuck Lorre and Warner Bros. Television while sharing details about his unusual home life and insisting he was "winning." He's demanding a big raise from his $1.8 million-an-episode pay - already among the highest in television.
In a house he calls "Sober Valley Lodge," Sheen has been living with a former porn star and a model - his "goddesses," he says. Sheen was asked on "Today" if marijuana magazine cover model Natalie Kenly and adult film star Rachel Oberlin, who performed as Bree Olson, helped care for the twins.
"Oh, yeah. If I can't be there, they're there, and it's like everybody helps out. ... There's nothing broken here," Sheen said.
The seemingly unlimited soapbox that media outlets have given Sheen has provoked strong criticsm.
"No one is exercising any discretion, at least the kind that weighs things like taste, proportion and decency instead of ratings points," Los Angeles Times media columnist James Rainey wrote in Wednesday's paper.
Ben Grossman, editor-in-chief of Broadcasting & Cable magazine, urged ABC on Monday to cancel its "20/20" interview with Sheen that night. He rapped the media for "celebrating the sad effects of an illness. And that is not a healthy way to do business."
Sheen's wife claims in her filing that Sheen abused her as early as October 2009, when she says he shoved her to the ground, causing her to lose consciousness when she hit her head on a couch.
Mueller Sheen also noted a Christmas Day 2009 fight in Aspen, Colo., that led to the actor pleading guilty to misdemeanor third-degree assault. Sometime after that incident, Mueller Sheen wrote in her court filing that Sheen told her, "I should have killed you when I had the chance!"
Sheen previously pleaded no contest in a 1997 incident in which a girlfriend accused him of throwing her to the floor of his home and threatening to kill her if she told anyone. Sheen was fined $2,800, given two years' probation and ordered to attend counseling.
Mueller Sheen also said that during a recent trip to the Bahamas with Sheen - and the two women currently living with him - Sheen threatened to stab her in the eye with a pen knife, spit on her feet and punched her on the arm.
Mueller Sheen acknowledges her own sobriety issues in the declaration. She said she is in a day rehab treatment program, but that she can care for the children for four hours during the day and at night. She told the court that she would be living with a sober companion, and that her mother would help with the twins' care.
AP Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York and AP Entertainment Writer Anthony McCartney in Los Angeles contributed to this story.