As we reported earlier, two men were arrested this week in connection with an alleged murder plot involving four targets, including singer Justin Bieber. Mark Staake, 41, and his nephew Tanner Ruane, 23, were picked up in Vermont and New York, but the mastermind behind it all hasn’t been arrested — because he is already in jail!
Dana Martin, 45, pleaded guilty to murdering and raping 15-year-old DeAndra Florucci of Barre, Vermont in 2000 and was sentenced to 35 years to life. He is currently in prison in Las Cruces, New Mexico, where it is believed he met Mark Staake. (Albuquerque native Staake has been in and out of jail since the early 1990’s according to online court records, and was released on parole just last month.)
But, according to KRQE, Dana Martin is serving two life sentences. So how did Martin manage to do that while behind bars? While incarcerated at Florida’s Cross City Correctional Institution in 2009 he sent a threatening letter to the teenage sister of an inmate he had met at another facility. Martin wrote the letter under a different name, that of fellow inmate Macon Higgs, who was serving a life sentence for a murder in 1970.
Here are a couple Dana Martin mug shot photos from around the time of being charged for writing the letters in 2009:
The letter detailed an escape attempt in which Martin (pretending to be Higgs) claimed to have a brother that was going to help him escape, at which point they would find and sexually assault the teen. Martin claimed his brother was watching her and would kill her if she informed anyone about the letter.
The girl, who lived in Panama City, Florida, told her mother who then informed police. At the time it was unknown how Higgs had learned the girl’s address, but once it was discovered Martin was the actual sender of the letter, it was easily determined that the two men had served about six months together at the West Florida Reception Center. The girl’s brother had given his address to a few of the inmates he met so they would be able to stay in contact with each other once he was released.
It was later revealed that Dana Martin wrote the letter as a way to get a new cellmate to replace Higgs, who was apparently not willing to join Martin’s attempt to escape. Higgs was initially placed in solitary confinement, but later exonerated.
Here is a mug shot photo of Dana Martin from 2006, which appears to be from a prison transfer. (Under “charge” it reads “HOLD FOR ANOTHER COUNTY/BROWARD CO/OVERNIGHT HOLD/MURDER”)
KRQE reports that Dana Martin was so obsessed with Justin Bieber that he got a tattoo of him on his leg! That tat (Sorry – not photo yet. Though, I’m sure it is a doozy!) joins this list from 2009:
The Dana Martin mug shot photo at the top of this post is from February of this year after Dana Martin had been relocated to New Mexico. The sign he is holding says “LCCF” which stands for Lea County Correctional Facility.
UPDATE - More details have been revealed from the New Mexico affidavit describing Dana Martin’s connection to Mark Staake, Tanner Ruane and Justin Bieber. According tot he affidavit, Dana Martin had become infatuated with Justin Bieber and had tried to contact the singer with no success.
“This perceived slight made Mr. Martin upset and that, coupled with Mr. Martin’s perception of being a ‘nobody’ in prison, led him to begin plotting the kidnap and murder of Victim 3 (J.B.),” the affidavit reads.
As far as compensation (thus the “murder-for-hire” aspect of the story), Staake says Martin offered him a $70,000 job on a farm in addition to a Ferrari and a Harley Davidson. Also, Ruane told Martin he would be performing the castration and Martin was to pay him $2,500 per testicle.
Here is more info on Martin’s duping of Staake from the affidavit:
When asked how he was able to convince Mr. Staake to participate, Mr. Martin stated that he (Mr. Martin) was a very goof manipulator. Mr. Martin was able to convince Mr. Staake that he (Mr. Martin) had access to large amounts of money [regardless of the fact he was in prison]. As part of his ruse, Mr. Martin stated that he convinced Mr. [illegible] that the Lottery Hill Farm in Vermont, a multi-million-dollar historical home and property, was family property. Lottery Hill Farm factored into the plans as a place Mr. Staake and Mr. Ruane would be able to go to hide out after the crimes were committed. Among the items located in the search warrant obtained by NYPD investigators was a hand drawn map/diagram of Lottery Hill Farm that Mr. Martin provided to Mr. Staake. Mr. Martin also explained that he convinced Mr. Staake that he [Mr. Martin] had a connection high up in a Chinese gang from New York. This was ostensibly evidenced by multiple Asian style tattoos that Mr. Martin had on his body. Mr. Martin was able to convince Mr. Staake that the murders were sanctioned by the Chinese gang and would put him [Mr. Staake] in good standing with the Gang.
According to the affidavit, Staake and Ruane’s vehicle was stopped after the duo took a wrong turn in Vermont and wound up at a checkpoint on the Canadian border. A warrant had been issued for Staake and he was detained. Tanner Ruane had no warrant and he was allowed to leave in the 1983 BMW the two had been traveling in.
“By traveling to Vermont and committing the torture/murders of Victims 1 and 2,” the affidavit reads, “Mr. Staake and Mr. Ruane would be well-positioned to travel immediately into New York, locate Victims 3 and 4 and carry out the murder of Victim 4 [Justin Bieber's bodyguard] and abduction/murder of Victim 3 [Justin Bieber].”
Ruane was later recorded talking about the murder plot with Martin over the phone, during which he referred to killing the victims as “adopting the dogs.” He also revealed to Martin that he and Staake had been at “Ground Zero” the night before, which police later found out was a code name for the second victim’s (neither Bieber nor his bodyguard) residence. Ruane later said of the Victim 1 and Victim 2, they “don’t know how [redacted] lucky they got.”
When I first heard about this story it just sounded like the hair-brained scheme of a crazy man, but now I’m starting to freak out — not so much for Justin Bieber (who does have a dedicated security force protecting him), but those two unsuspecting victims living in Vermont! I really believe these two dolts were very close to carrying out their plans, and they might very well have succeeded if they hadn’t taken a wrong turn while driving! That is a very frightening thought.