BIEBER, INK: Martin's devotional tattoo from 2011, shaved for this interview.
Martin infused his lies with plausible evidence. He kept a photo album full of his fake holdings and showed Staake a snapshot of a 1983 Ferrari 308, worth $143,000, claiming it was his father's. He encouraged Staake to look it up on Carfax, using a VIN cribbed from a classified ad. Martin told Staake his family owned the historic Lottery Hill Farm in Woodstock, Vermont—a $2.7 million estate once owned by Michael J. Fox. Martin says he convinced Staake that he sold heroin for a Chinese organized-crime syndicate in New York City and that he had connections that would protect Staake.
By mid-June, with Staake due to be paroled in October, Martin's plot had thickened. He wanted to settle some old scores as well and says he directed Staake to kill two former Vermont friends: One was Maurice Simoneau, the man who had been dating Florucci and who had left Martin in the Lake George motel room. "He was obsessed with me, and I didn't want anything to do with it," says Simoneau, who was in love with Florucci and believes Martin killed her to get rid of her as a rival and to hurt him. "He was off the wall, very short-tempered—a nut job." The other intended victim, whom police call PL, knew Martin when he was a teen in the mid-1990s. Martin targeted PL simply for refusing to give him information on a mutual acquaintance. Martin says he instructed Staake to strangle both men with paisley ties—the method he used on Florucci—and convinced Staake that the Chinese gang had approved the hit on Simoneau.
As a rationale, Martin says he told Staake that Simoneau, a convicted heroin dealer, once stole $430,000 worth of the Chinese gang's heroin from him (a claim Simoneau denies) and that carrying out the hit would put Staake in good standing with the gang. To prove it, Martin gave Staake a phony letter that read "BY ORDER: Hip Sing Assoc., 16 Pell Street, NY, NY 11013" and contained personal information about Simoneau. Martin promised Staake that in exchange for these killings and that of Bieber, the gangsters would pay him $50,000. In addition, he offered Staake his father's Ferrari and Lottery Hill Farm as a hideout.
Martin developed a code for them to discuss the crimes over the phone while Staake was on the road. They would call the targets pit bulls. The killings would be referred to as "putting down the dogs." It was corny but simple to remember and indicative of Martin's contempt for his intended victims.
By this point, Bieber had released the album Believe, which only fueled Martin's desire for blood. It included the biting song "Maria," a thinly veiled swipe at Mariah Yeater, the fan who had falsely claimed that Bieber had fathered her child, with the lyrics Now she's in the magazines, on TV, making a scene. Oh she's crazy, crazy in love. And she's all over the news, saying everything but the truth. If Martin could kill Bieber, he too would become an indelible part of pop-culture history. "Fame I don't really care about," he says. "Wanting to be remembered for posterity, that is what is important to me."
Martin was moving quickly down a twisted and bloody trail blazed by the likes of Mark David Chapman, the troubled fan who shot and killed John Lennon in New York City in 1980; Yolanda Saldívar, the founder of the Selena fan club, who shot and killed the Tejano singer at a Days Inn in Corpus Christi, Texas, in 1995; John Hinckley Jr., whose obsession with Jodie Foster led him to shoot President Ronald Reagan in 1981 to get her attention; and Valerie Solanas, who got her 15 minutes by shooting Andy Warhol in 1968 after he refused to produce a play she wrote, Up Your Ass.
A key psychiatric term in the field of celebrity-stalking studies is "entitled reciprocity," in which an inflamed narcissism convinces the stalker that he or she deserves the star's attention. "If the stalker thinks he's being rejected, he can feel humiliated and develop anger and hatred toward this star he loves," says J. Reid Meloy, a Southern California–based forensic psychologist who advises Hollywood celebrities' security teams on stalker strategies and edited the book Stalking, Threatening and Attacking Public Figures. "They think, 'I have spent hundreds of hours writing and communicating and sending e-mails and presents to this celebrity; this celebrity figure owes me time, they owe me attention—how dare they ignore me.' Narcissism is the aggressive underbelly of this idealized fantasy," says Meloy, who worked with the Los Angeles County D.A.'s Office to evaluate threats posed to Madonna and Gwyneth Paltrow. The quintessential example of the phenomenon is Robert Bardo, who killed Rebecca Schaeffer, the 21-year-old star of the CBS sitcom My Sister Sam, on her L.A. doorstep in 1989 after stalking her for three years. Before the murder, he had written to his sister: "I have an obsession with the unattainable. I have to eliminate what I cannot attain."
Although Martin's Bieber fixation was known to Staake, its depths may not have been. When Staake was released on parole in October, he went directly to Albuquerque and recruited his 23-year-old nephew, Tanner Ruane, a six-foot, 260-pound bar bouncer, as a wingman. Ruane confirms that Staake asked him to go to Vermont but, from his cell in New Mexico's Doña Ana County jail, claims he knew nothing of a murder plot—saying his uncle told him they were going to Vermont only to get Martin's father's Ferrari and sell it. "He said he had met a rich guy in prison," Ruane says. "He says, 'He gave me a Ferrari, let's go up and get it.' And I'm like, 'Yeah, right. Dude gave you a Ferrari.' He says, 'Look at these pictures.' I'm like, 'That don't mean nothing.' He says, 'Dude, the title is at Grandma's house, go ahead and call her.' So I called Grandma, and he wasn't lying." It's not clear whether Ruane's grandmother (Staake's mother) really did tell him this.
Regardless of the mission, Staake, fresh out of prison and broke, couldn't afford to make the trip. So Ruane sold off his 9mm pistol, his Xbox, and his Sony Bravia flat-screen TV—all for $1,000—and Staake borrowed a 1983 BMW to make their 3,300-mile drive to Vermont.
Martin says he directed Staake and Ruane to kill his hometown nemeses first, then head to New York to carry out Operation Bieber. The singer's tour schedule would bring him to Madison Square Garden for a pair of concerts on November 28 and 29. Martin, knowing Bieber's public location is frequently tweeted about, whether it's shopping at a Best Buy or caffeinating at Starbucks, was confident the singer would be an easy target. "I needed Staake to pull a Jack Ruby," Martin says, "which is basically to just run up to Justin Bieber and shoot his bodyguard, shoot Justin Bieber if necessary, because this whole thing is fluid." Preferably, however, with the bodyguard down, Martin hoped that Staake and Ruane could abduct Bieber in a car and later kill him "and cut off his testicles."