ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. - A plot to kill Justin Bieber, allegedly masterminded by a 45-year-old prisoner obsessed with the young star, was derailed when the accused would-be assassins accidentally ended up at the Canadian border, according to court documents.
Dana Martin, serving two life sentences in a New Mexico prison for the killing of a 15-year-old girl, told police he had hatched the scheme after Bieber never returned messages he sent to the 18-year-old "Beauty and a Beat" singer.
Police recounted in an affidavit filed in a New Mexico court that Martin, who has a tattoo of Bieber on his leg, told them the perceived slight was part of what led him to dream up the alleged murder plot.
"In the end, what Mr. Martin stated he was seeking was a measure of notoriety so that there would be people outside of prison who would know who he (Mr. Martin) was," police wrote in the affidavit.
Bieber was not the only target in the alleged conspiracy — police allege two men Martin hired were also told to kill Bieber's bodyguard and two people unconnected to the star — but he was the main one, investigators allege.
The men Martin allegedly had carrying out his plot were to use pruning shears to cut off the testicles of the first two victims in Vermont and kill them, then travel to New York, kill the bodyguard and abduct and kill Bieber, Martin told police.
There are no details in the affidavit of how the men, a recently released ex-con and his nephew, were to carry out the murder of one of the biggest stars in the world. But a celebrity security expert suggested Bieber would likely have more than one layer of protection.
"Somebody of his stature will never ever be travelling with just one bodyguard," said Adrianne Fekete-Romanick, director and owner of Star Quality Enterprises.
"People that do executive protection for celebrities or people with celebrity status are always on, basically, alert."
It's not known how much detail the members of the alleged plot knew about Bieber's security detail.
But Martin said he drew Mark Staake, 41, into his plot when they met in prison this year by telling Staake that he had access to a lot of money, had a multi-million-dollar family farm in Vermont that could serve as a hide-out and had connections in a Chinese gang in New York.
Staake brought his 23-year-old nephew, Tanner D. Ruane — his "right-hand man" — into the scheme, Martin told investigators.
Staake was released on probation at the end of October and started to track Bieber's whereabouts, Martin said. The murder was to take place in New York at the end of November, according to the affidavit, which was when Bieber was in the city to give a concert.
The uncle and nephew team arrived in Vermont on Nov. 19, but on the highway they realized they were headed to the Canadian border, according to the affidavit. They missed the last exit before the border and turned around to join the cars entering the Highgate Springs, Vt., point of entry, police said.
The U.S. border agent found Staake had an outstanding probation violation warrant from New Mexico and he was arrested.
Martin and Ruane spoke on the phone later that day, and when Ruane told Martin that Staake had been arrested, Martin called off the plot. In the phone call, which was recorded by authorities, Ruane expressed disappointment at Martin's decision, saying they had found one of the first two victims' homes and had brought a pair of hedge clippers for the castrations.
Martin told his story to police the next morning and Ruane was arrested with a pair of pruning shears and information on the last-known locations of the first two intended victims in the car, police said in the affidavit. New York State Police said Thursday that a "hand-written drawing of a depiction of Justin Bieber" was also found in the vehicle.
Staake and Ruane were arrested on charges of two counts each of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts each of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery.
Police are waiting for them to be extradited back to New Mexico, at which time they will be interviewed, said Lt. Robert McDonald. At that time investigators will decide what charges Martin may face, he said.
Bieber's management issued a statement that said, "we take every precaution to protect and insure the safety of Justin and his fans."
It was not immediately known if the suspects had defence lawyers.
— With files from The Associated Press
NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 01: Musician Justin Bieber visits the Nintendo World Store on September 1, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Bryan Bedder/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 15: Justin Bieber performs on ABC's Good Morning America' at ABC News' Good Morning America Times Square Studio on November 15, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Michael N. Todaro/WireImage)
NEW YORK - DECEMBER 11: Justin Bieber attends the Z100s Jingle Ball 2009 presented by H&M at Madison Square Garden on December 11, 2009 in New York City. (Photo by Jim Spellman/WireImage for Clear Channel Radio)
LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 13: Singer Justin Bieber poses after his free performance presented by KIIS-FM at Nokia Plaza L.A. Live on February 13, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Angela Weiss/Getty Images)
NEW YORK - NOVEMBER 26: Justin Bieber promotes his new book 'First Step 2 Forever' at Barnes & Noble, 5th Avenue on November 26, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Andy Kropa/Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 15: Justin Bieber attends KIIS FM's 2010 Wango Tango Concert at Staples Center on May 15, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic)
Teen idol Justin Bieber arrives on the red carpet for the 68th annual Golden Globe awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, California, on January 16, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Valerie MACON (Photo credit should read VALERIE MACON/AFP/Getty Images)
LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 16: Justin Bieber attends the 'Justin Bieber: Never Say Never' premiere at the O2 Cineworld on February 16, 2011 in London, England. (Photo by Jon Furniss/WireImage)
LAS VEGAS, NV - MAY 22: Singer Justin Bieber poses in the press room with the Digital Artist of the Year award during the 2011 Billboard Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena May 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Isaac Brekken/Getty Images)
NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 08: Justin Bieber attends the 2011 CMT Music Awards at the Bridgestone Arena on June 8, 2011 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Jeff Kravitz/FilmMagic)
Singer Justin Bieber attends the 2011 BET Awards at The Shrine Auditorium on June 26, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (FilmMagic)
UNIVERSAL CITY, CA - AUGUST 07: Singer Justin Bieber arrives at the 2011 Teen Choice Awards held at Gibson Amphitheatre on August 7, 2011 in Universal City, California. (Photo by Jon Kopaloff/FilmMagic)
Singer Justin Bieber arrives at the The 28th Annual MTV Video Music Awards at Nokia Theatre L.A. LIVE on August 28, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (WireImage)
NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 08: Justin Bieber attends the Dolce & Gabbana Boutique on September 8, 2011 in New York City. (Photo by Eugene Gologursky/Getty Images for Dolce & Gabbana)
Singer Justin Bieber poses in the press room at The 53rd Annual GRAMMY Awards held at Staples Center on February 13, 2011 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Michael Tran/FilmMagic)
ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 17: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Musician and 2011 Horizon Award Recipien Justin Bieber poses backstage at the 33rd Annual Georgia Music Hall Of Fame Awards at the Cobb Energy Performing Arts Center on September 17, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Ben Rose/WireImage)