April 11, 2014 -- A West Hollywood esthetician says it was “scary” to find out he was the intended victim of an apparent murder-for-hire plot allegedly masterminded by a rival salon owner.
“There's been no negative episodes between me and her,” Gabriel Suarez told ABC News’ “20/20.” “That's the … oddest thing, is that there's really nothing behind this … plot for her to really have reason enough ... to want to do this, just other than being in competition.”
Just last month, salon owner and skin specialist Dawn DaLuise, 55, was arraigned on solicitation of murder charges for her alleged plot to have Suarez murdered and faces a possible nine years in prison.
Daluise is an upscale facialist with appointments all over Los Angeles who is well-acquainted with celebrities. Her salon, Skin Refinery, in West Hollywood, was in operation for over a decade when Suarez opened his salon, Smooth Cheeks, two doors over.
“Competition never really scared me,” Suarez said. “If I was busy worried about competition, I wouldn't be where I am today.”
However, when DaLuise spoke to Detective Steve McCauley saying she had her tires slashed and was being cyber-stalked, she believed Suarez was to blame.
“She mentioned that there had been Craigslist ads that were posted, fliers depicting her in sexually suggestive poses,” Detective McCauley told “20/20.” “Her face was Photoshopped, essentially solicitations for sexual encounters that listed her address and her phone number on them. She was very upset with those.”
But, Suarez said, aside from the occasional cold shoulder from DaLuise, he never had any drama with her.
“I'm an established esthetician with a loyal following already,” Suarez said. “I don't need her clients; she doesn't need mine. There's plenty for everybody.”
“Ultimately, the beauty industry is extremely competitive,” salon owner and hairstylist to the stars Jonathan Antin told “20/20.” “And, you know, when you open your own salon … and someone right across the street from you opens up the same business, that's enough to kill you.”
When police talked to DaLuise’s friend, Edward Feinstein, who had a prior conviction for identity theft, he told them that the cyber-stalking was actually DaLuise’s plan to frame Suarez.
“She approached me with the idea of, ‘Hey, I want Gabriel out of the building. And this is what I want you to do,’” Feinstein told “20/20.” “She wanted me to pretend to be Gabriel, send her fake texts, post Craigslist ads. She wanted it to seem like she was being stalked so she could say it was Gabriel.”
In exchange, Feinstein said, DaLuise gave him facials for free. Feinstein showed the police text messages between him and DaLuise, one of which led cops to take a closer look at DaLuise.
“I found someone who is going to take Gabriel out. His name is Chris Geile and he’s an ex Detroit Lion quarterback. He’s 6’7” and 315 lbs. he’s on my fb page,” DaLuise wrote to Feinstein. Chris Geile was a 1987 replacement player for three games during a NFL players’ strike.
“That seemed to indicate that Ms. DaLuise was actively seeking somebody to take care of Gabriel,” McCauley said.
“It wasn't merely idle talk. We believe we have evidence that suggests she furthered that activity,” Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department Shaun Mathers said. “The conclusion was that she had solicited a murder of Gabriel Suarez.”
On March 5, DaLuise was arrested and charged with solicitation of murder.
"It’s absolutely ridiculous. It’s overstated, and when you hear all of the evidence and see what happened, I think there will be a whole new twist to the case," DaLuise's public defender, Philip Dube, said of the charges at a press conference after her arraignment.
Feinstein was also arrested on March 12. Police had developed a theory that Feinstein might actually have been cyber-stalking DaLuise by himself all along.
“I looked closer at him, had reason to believe that he was involved in the stalking,” McCauley said.
“I'm the one that originally told the police when they contacted me about ... Dawn's ruse and about the situation,” Feinstein said. “So for me to be named a suspect was just mind-boggling to me.”
For now, the case lies in the mountain of evidence -- texts, emails, hard drives -- being pored over by the LA Sheriff’s Department Cyber-Crimes Unit.