Man Who Wanted Murder of Ex-Girlfriend to Look Like Bear Mauling Jailed

A New York man who had abused his ex-girlfriend and then plotted to kill her and make it look like she had been mauled by a bear was sentenced to prison for trying to hire someone to kill her in a staged car crash.

Clyde Gardner gave up on his first idea: Kill a bear, skin it and wear the pelt while using its claws to kill the woman as she took out her garbage. The plan included him wearing the bear's paws on his feet so no human footprints would be left behind.

Prosecutors said the 57-year-old junkyard owner had carefully watched his ex-girlfriend's movements, hiding in the woods with binoculars to learn her routines after she kicked him out of the house they shared in Malone, near the Canadian border.

When he abandoned the first plan, Gardner approached a friend and gave him a picture of the woman, her license plate number and $500 toward a $15,000 bounty to kill her in a car crash.

Gardner, an experienced demolition derby driver, advised the man how to make it look like an accident. He also told him that if the crash didn't kill the woman, he should take a piece of broken glass and slit her throat, Franklin County Assistant District Attorney Elizabeth Crawford said.

The acquaintance went to police, who sent him back wearing a hidden recorder to get Gardner on tape talking about the grisly plan.

Gardner said at sentencing Wednesday that he was drunk and was going to call off the hit once he sobered up and realized what he had set in motion.

He and the woman had been together about five years and had a child, but it was an abusive and violent relationship, prosecutors said. The woman repeatedly broke up with Gardner and kicked him out on Sept. 25, 2010.

The case was scheduled for trial in July but Gardner took a plea deal. His lawyer, Peter Dumas, did not immediately return a call seeking comment.

Gardner was sentenced to 5 to 15 years in prison and will have an order of protection preventing contact with the woman until 2031.