Justin Bieber was targeted for castration with pruning shears by a man who apparently had the teen pop idol’s face tattooed on his leg. From the alleged al Qaeda kidnap plot against Russell Crowe, to Frank Sinatra Jr.’s being held for ransom by two gunmen, see the craziest murder plots against celebrities.
It’s creepy enough that a 23-year-old man allegedly had a Justin Bieber obsession serious enough to have him tattoo the singer’s face onto his leg. Creepy turned into disturbing, however, when that man, Tanner Ruane, along with his 41-year-old uncle and a convicted killer, hatched a plot to strangle and castrate the 18-year-old pop star before his concert at Madison Square Garden a few weeks ago. Both uncle and nephew were arrested after the convicted killer (45-year-old Dana Martin, who’s currently in jail serving two life sentences for raping and killing a 15-year-old girl), tipped off police about the plot, which allegedly called for Bieber and three other victims to be strangled with a paisley tie, then castrated with pruning shears and an assortment of “murder tools.”
It takes both guts and insanity to try and bring down an Olympian, but in March 2009, that’s just what 36-year-old Floridian Robert O’Ryan tried to do. O’Ryan was convinced that Shawn Johnson, a gold medal-winning American gymnast, had been communicating telepathically with him during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, and was in love with him and wanted to have his children. He was caught scaling a fence outside the studio where 18-year-old Johnson was filming Dancing With the Stars. A police search of O’Ryan’s car revealed a shotgun, a handgun, a knife, and several types of cords. “I didn’t know him. He was a stranger to me. To see someone with that kind of obsession scared me,” Johnson later testified in court, helping get O’Ryan found guilty and sent to a mental institution.
In June 2011, Joss Stone was the target of a harebrained robbery and murder plot at her farmhouse in rural Devon, England. Though Stone wasn’t home at the time of the attempted robbery, her neighbors sure were. They called the police to report suspicious activity, and two men were later arrested and found in possession of swords, rope and a body bag.
In 2008, rumors swirled that a Louisiana teenager had attempted to hijack a flight from Los Angeles to Nashville and crash it into a Miley Cyrus concert. The FBI denied this, but handcuffs, rope, and duct tape were found in the teenager’s possession.
Michelle “Bombshell” McGee destroyed Sandra Bullock’s marriage to Jesse James, but would she have gone so far as to kill Bullock, too? That’s what one man claimed when he told police he had been contacted to help carry out a plot arranged by McGee, James’s former mistress. Though the FBI investigated the tip, they ultimately deemed it “not credible.”
Frank Sinatra Jr.
Frank Sinatra H may have been the leader of the Rat Pack in the ‘60s, but he found himself helpless in December 1963, when his then 19-year-old son, Frank Jr., was kidnapped from his room in Harrah’s Lodge in Lake Tahoe, Calif. Two men dressed up as room-service waiters entered the room, then pulled guns out and demanded money from Sinatra Jr. When they didn’t get it, the two blindfolded and tossed him into the trunk of a car, then made a ransom call to Old Blue Eyes. Sinatra offered the criminals $1 million to release his son and, 54 hours (and only $240,000) later, Frank Jr. was let go.
Letterman isn’t alone in having incurred the wrath of the jihadists, however. Russell Crowe claimed in an interview with GQ that al Qaeda hatched a plot to kidnap him in 2001 as a way to “culturally destabilize” the United States. He said the FBI had to protect him during the filming of A Beautiful Mind and Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, but at some point, the FBI began to doubt the seriousness of the threats. Crowe was fired up and ready to face his would-be kidnappers, though. “Mate, if you want to kidnap me, you’d better bring a mouth gag,” he joked to the magazine.
In January 2010, Two and a Half Men star Jon Cryer was convinced his ex-wife had hired a hit man to kill him. Cryer and his ex-wife were in the middle of a bitter divorce and custody dispute when the actor allegedly alerted authorities to a threat made against his life and requested heightened security on set. His former wife, Sarah Trigger, denied any knowledge of the threats via her lawyer, but the FBI investigated anyway—and came up empty.
What, al Qaeda can’t take a joke? Late-night host David Letterman incurred the wrath of a jihadist website after he cracked wise on his show about Ilyas Kashmiri, an al Qaeda leader who was killed in a drone attack in Pakistan. A poster on the website allegedly called for someone to “cut the tongue of this lowly Jew and shut it forever.” Of course, Letterman (who is not Jewish), turned the whole thing into an entire monologue’s worth of punchlines. “And so now, State Department authorities are looking into it. They’re not taking this lightly. They’re questioning, they’re interrogating, there’s an electronic trail—but everyone knows it’s Leno,” he joked.