Grammy-nominated As I Lay Dying vocalist Tim Lambesis was arrested in Oceanside on Tuesday on suspicion of hiring a hit man to murder his estranged wife, according to the San Diego County Sheriff's Department. Lambesis, 32, was charged on three federal counts -- one count of solicitation to commit murder and two counts of conspiracy to commit crime.
The Times' L.A. Now reported that Lambesis "was arrested without incident while shopping. He is accused of attempting to find someone to kill his estranged wife, who lives in Encinitas." Authorities told L.A. Now that he had "attempted to hire an undercover sheriff's detective for the murder."
A representative for the band did not respond to requests for comment.
Lambesis, an openly Christian heavy metal artist, had recently raised more than $78,000 from fans to fund his side project, Austrian Death Machine, a band mocking the film work of Arnold Schwarzenegger. For $500, Lambesis promised to be "your personal trainer for a month." The top prize, for those who spent $5,000, was to have the winner's initials tattooed on Lambesis' buttocks.
Fans have taken to the act's Facebook page seeking more information on the incident.
"I can't even imagine him resorting to this after all of the inspiration from this band," wrote one. "They have never produced a single thing that would make me believe any of them were capable of this. This would be absolutely heart breaking to hear."
"I am praying for Tim's salvation with you God," wrote another. "Cover him and speak to his heart."
The band's 2007 single "Nothing Left" was nominated for the metal performance Grammy. Lambesis has spoken often on the importance of writing about "philosophical topics," and when asked recently by metal site Suicide Scriptures if his Christian faith clashed with genre, he said people get "stuck on it. They tend to focus on those ideas more than the music."
Yet the act didn't hide its beliefs. Lambesis recently posted a video on YouTube in which he and a bandmate trade "mosh calls for the lord," including such rallying cries as "crowd surf for the virgin birth."
The San Diego-based As I Lay Dying has been signed to local label Metal Blade since 2003 and released its sixth album, "Awakened," in the fall of 2012. The album debuted at No. 11 on the Billboard pop chart.
As a vocalist, Lambesis vacillates between sinister screaming and high-energy growling. Lambesis has led the Warped Tour veterans since the group's formation in about 2000, and the band has gradually added more of a punk rock leanness to its pulsing, rhythmic metal aggression. "Awakened" was said to take the band down a darker path, thematically, and was produced by Bill Stevenson, drummer for South Bay punk band the Descendents.
"On this record, I wasn’t purposefully trying to be negative, but I think sometimes we have to be honest with some of the darker and more difficult times of our lives to get back to that positivity," Lambesis said in a record label news release. "While the lyrics do perhaps seem like a dark window into my soul, they’re written that way specifically because I want to move on and transcend those difficult moments in life."
As I Lay Dying was due to spend much of the summer on tour with peers Killswitch Engage. The tour, which had no scheduled L.A. date, was due to launch May 30 in Oklahoma City.