A convicted felon and his 23-year-old nephew plotted to castrate and murder pop singer Justin Bieber, police said Thursday.
Mark Staake, 41, and his nephew, Tanner Ruane, are wanted in New Mexico on two counts of conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit aggravated battery with a deadly weapon, according to police in Vermont and New Mexico.
"Through follow-up investigation it was discovered that Justin Bieber may have also been a target of the murder plot," according to a news release from New Mexico authorities.
Staake and Ruane are being investigated "for their part in the criminal conspiracy to locate and murder two individuals in Vermont," according to the release.
Authorities say the plan to murder 18-year-old Bieber came about after Southern New Mexico Corrections Facility inmate Dana Martin, 41, recruited then-fellow inmate Staake to carry out the crime. Staake reportedly enlisted the help of his nephew.
Martin, who is serving two life sentences for the 2000 rape and murder of a 15-year-old girl in Barre, Vermont, is said to be so infatuated with Bieber that he had a tattoo of the pop star on his leg.
Martin attempted to contact Bieber on numerous occasions but received no response.
According to New Mexico State Police, the spurned communication combined with Martin's desire for notoriety led to his plot to murder and castrate the singer and his bodyguard and kill two additional people.
Staake was released on probation on October 22. On November 19, he and Ruane arrived in Vermont, where police said they were planning to murder two individuals in the St. Albans area before heading to New York to find Bieber and his bodyguard.
Both Staake and Ruane were stopped at the Highgate Springs Port of Entry checkpoint in Vermont. A U.S. border agent discovered a warrant out of New Mexico for Staake, and he was turned over to Vermont State Police on a probation violation.
Ruane was released but made incriminating phone calls to Martin in New Mexico, authorities said, and an arrest warrant was issued on November 20 by the New York State Police.
He was arrested, and the car he was driving with Staake was also seized.
New York State Police said they searched the car and found Fiskar Durasharp pruning shears and information on the last known locations of their targeted victims in Vermont.
In a recorded conversation between Ruane and Martin, police said, they revealed that the pruning shears were intended to be used to castrate Bieber and his bodyguard. The two also allegedly disclosed that a paisley tie was the weapon of choice to strangle their intended victims.
Staake and Ruane remain in custody in Vermont and New York, respectively. Investigations into both the alleged plots are under way.
A representative for Bieber said, "We take every precaution to protect and insure the safety of Justin and his fans."
Bieber rose to fame in 2009 with his hit single "One Time." He was named Artist of the Year at the American Music Awards in both 2010 and 2012.