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‘Cannibal Cop’ case

'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle

Officer Gilberto Valle, once a cop in Manhattan’s 26th Precinct, has been held in federal custody since late October, when he was charged with conspiracy to kidnap women, in a sick plot to kill and then eat them.

 

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'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle

Officer Gilberto Valle, once a cop in Manhattan’s 26th Precinct, has been held in federal custody since late October, when he was charged with conspiracy to kidnap women, in a sick plot to kill and then eat them.

NEW YORK (AP) — A retired New York high school librarian and a New Jersey auto mechanic have been convicted of scheming to carry out gruesome fantasies of kidnapping, raping, torturing and killing women and girls.

A federal jury in Manhattan delivered its verdict Friday in the conspiracy trial of ex-librarian Christopher Asch and Michael Van Hise.

RELATED: ‘Cannibal Cop’ convicted of plotting to kidnap, cook and eat women

Their convictions came after a police officer was found guilty last year of plotting abductions and cannibalism.

That investigation also led to the prosecutions of Asch and Van Hise. Prosecutors said the two planned to victimize members of Van Hise’s family, including girls under 10.

Like the officer, Asch and Van Hise said they were only role-playing and would never have actually hurt anyone.

But prosecutors said the two crossed a line between pretending and plotting.

plot 1

GREENWICH VILLAGE (PIX11) –  The FBI says it uncovered a gruesome murder plot while investigating the case of the so-called Cannibal Cop.

Undercover agents say they have been tracking Christopher Asch and Richard Meltz and their alleged plot to kidnap, rape, torture and kill innocent people, for more than a year.

Agents said they arrested both men after Asch allegedly went to one of their meet-up places carrying two bags of tools including a Taser gun, rope, duct tape and  meat hammer.

FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement, “As alleged, both of these defendants took affirmative steps to carry out the conspiracy to kidnap and torture women. Their actions were not confined to talking about these ghoulish plans. They acquired the tools to accomplish the deed, including a Taser and the chemical means to anesthetize their victims. And they made detailed plans to use these instruments – plans that were foiled by the FBI’s intervention.”

plot 2

Officials gather evidence in the investigation that came to light in the Cannibal Cop probe.

On Monday, federal agents were going in and out of a Greenwich Village co-op building gathering evidence on a longtime resident, Asch, allegedly involved.

“That’s scary,” said Isabel Coffey, a neighbor who has known Asch for at least 10 years.  “A friend of mine, who has since passed away, was afraid of him… but he seemed so easy-going and even harmless.”

The FBI says Asch was poised and ready to do a lot of harm.  They say they have dozens of emails and taped phone conversations to prove it.

RELATED: READ THE FULL COMPLAINT [WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT]

Here’s an example:

Last month, the FBI says it recorded this conversation between the two accused co-conspirators in March of 2013 as they were talking about looking for people they wanted to kidnap.

Meltz:  I got the opportunity to do some cruising around and stuff.

 Asch:  Yeah.

Meltz:  Nothing happened but it was exciting to pick out potential victims.

The complaint detailed disturbing communication between Asch and Meltz and undercover agents that, they say, proved their shared objective to kidnap, rape, torture and kill women, children and infants.

Agents say they recorded another conversation when the two men were talking about the dangers of bringing in outside people on their alleged plot:

Asch:  Yeah, well I don’t know.  I think we have to think long and hard about whether we should try do this soon or whether we should wait.  I mean we will try to minimize the risk like havinga  stun gun and so forth.

Meltz:  Every time you do anything it’s a risk.  And like you said, all you can try to do is minimize it.

Asch:  Right.

Meltz:  Because the end result is going to be fantastic.

Capture

The Greenwich Village apartment complex where authorities gathered evidence on Monday.

The FBI says Asch went to New Jersey to conduct his own surveillance of potential victims.  At one point he allegedly pointed to a woman and said, “She has to die.”

Agents say they found paperwork detailing gun show itineraries as well as documents about leg-spreaders and dental retractors.  Agents say they found plenty of items related to the intent of a crime in Asch’s possession, including, black ski mask, hypodermic needles, handcuffs, leather ties and chrome forceps.

Asch, 54, is a former Stuyvesant librarian.

FBI agents say he was working with Richard Meltz, 65, who is the Chief of Police for a VA medical center in Massachusetts, to pull off the alleged plot.

Both men face federal charges of conspiracy to kidnap.

village

Evidence bins are removed from the apartment of Christopher Asch in Greenwich Village. (Erica Pitzi/PIX11 News)

'Cannibal cop' may take the stand

Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle

Two men have been arrested in what authorities say was a sickening plot to kidnap, torture, rape and kill women, children and even babies, authorities said.

The men came to the attention of investigators as part of the Cannibal Cop probe that led to the arrest and eventually conviction of NYPD Gilberto Valle.

Christopher Asch, 61, a former librarian at Stuyvesant High School, and Richard Meltz, 65, a police chief at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, Mass., are charged in the federal criminal complaint, which spans two years.

FBI agents carried bins with evidence from Asch’s apartment in Greenwich Village Monday morning.

Updates later, and full report on the PIX11 News at 5. 

From the very beginning, Gilberto Valle’s trial challenged both jurors and casual observers to determine whether the former NYPD cop’s intent to cook and eat other humans amounted to an authentic, sinister plot or pure fantasy.

Elizabeth Valle, the so called “cannibal cop’s” mother, dashed out of federal court Tuesday in a blur of disbelief.

“I’m in shock,” she uttered as she walked out of the courthouse.

Her son Gilberto Valle had just been found guilty of conspiring to kidnap women — toward an alleged goal of cooking and eating them.

“The case involved thoughts that were unusual, bizarre, and frankly very ugly. And we think the jury just couldn’t get past that,” said defense attorney Julia Gatto.

The jury deliberated for some 16-hours stretched over four days as they weighed the delicate differences between thoughts and conspiracy.

Valle put together dossiers on the women he also tracked, and trolled the darkest fringes of the internet looking at disturbing images and talking to other people who shared his interest in human cuisine.

“I’m sure Mr. Valle was crying. I was certainly crying. It was very hard to hear. It was very hard, and we truly believe in his innocence,” said Gatto.

But – here’s the kicker and possibly what pushed jurors toward arriving at guilty verdict: Valle accessed a federal law enforcement database to conduct research on one of his
targets, while he was on duty.

Defense attorney Ron Kuby told PIX11, “Unfortunately, in a case like this, where the facts are so twisted, and the fantasy so perverse, the jury decides better safe than sorry. It may have been a fantasy crime, but the jail sentence will be real time.”

His online fantasies to kidnap, sexually torture, cook and eat women were more than just gory make believe.  That’s what a jury concluded in its guilty verdict against so-called Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle that left him, his lead attorney and his family in tears.

“I’m shocked!” was the terse reaction from the mother of Patrol Officer Valle as she ran out of the federal courthouse on Centre Street.  Her outburst came minutes after the jury of six men and six women concluded that her son was guilty on the two charges he faced:  conspiracy to kidnap and accessing a federal government database without authorization.

“It’s a devastating verdict for us,” said Valle’s lead defense attorney, Julia Gatto.  “We have poured our hearts and souls into this case, and it was devastating to hear, ‘Guilty.’   …I’m sure Mr. Valle was crying.  I was certainly crying.  It was very emotional to hear, since we believe so much in his innocence.”

Valle has always insisted that disturbing evidence on his computers seized by the FBI were part of a subculture of paraphilia of which he was a part.  Paraphilia is a diagnosed mental condition, and paraphiliacs are sexually aroused by thoughts and images of cannibalism.

Among the evidence on the six-year NYPD veteran’s computers that led his now-estranged wife to report him to FBI investigators were images and videos of women chained up and bleeding.  An investigator admitted in court that the images and videos appeared to be staged scenarios.  Valle also possessed images of women who appeared to be dead, as well as detailed profiles of women — many of whom were friends or acquaintances of his.

Cannibal Cop School copy

The defense lawyer used accused ‘cannibal cop’ Gilberto Valle’s plan to abduct and cook a woman as proof that it was just a fantasy.

At least one of the profiles, titled “Abducting and Cooking Kimberly — A Blueprint” indicated criminal intent on Valle’s part.  But in that document, he falsified all of the personal information for the woman he’d plotted with other paraphiliacs to kidnap and abuse.

In fact, Valle, 28, never carried out any of the plans he dreamed up with other cannibal fetish users online, which is why his lawyers were convinced that he was innocent.  The jury said otherwise.

“People can be prosecuted for their thoughts,” Valle’s attorney, Robert Baum said outside of court minutes after the verdict came down.  Baum added, “And [they can be] convicted, which is even sadder.”

His co-counsel, Gatto, said, “The case involved thoughts that were unusual, bizarre, and frankly very ugly.  We think the jury just couldn’t get past that.”

The jury’s deliberation lasted from last Thursday afternoon to late Tuesday morning, with a break for the weekend.  Figuring out their collective thought process is, for now, a challenge.  PIX11 News went to the home of the jury foreperson, and called him as well, but he was not home for comment.  All other jurors left the courthouse without speaking to any reporters.

One juror, who did not want to speak with anyone, contacted the U.S. Attorney’s office to report that a journalist had managed to get past her doorman and to knock on her apartment door.  She didn’t answer.  U.S. Marshals have been put on standby to respond to unwanted inquiries of jurors by reporters.

The U.S. Attorney, whose office prosecuted this case, had plenty to say about it.  A statement issued by U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York, Preet Bharara, said, in part, “The Internet is a forum for the free exchange of ideas, but it does not confer immunity for plotting crimes and taking steps to carry out those crimes.”

Valle and his attorneys disagreed.  They said that the activity the disgraced police officer engaged in, which included accessing the National Crime Information Center’s database from his NYPD patrol car computer, was for the purpose of carrying out his fantasies only.

“These were thoughts, very ugly thoughts,” Gatto said outside of court, “but we don’t prosecute people for their thoughts.  And we’ll continue to appeal.”

She and her legal team plan to file a request within 30 days for the judge to throw out the jury’s verdict.  That is not expected to be approved.  Valle’s publicly-financed lawyers are also planning to have his case heard in a higher court.  They consider this a precedent case.

Meanwhile, Valle remains in solitary confinement in federal lockup.  His sentencing date is scheduled for June 19th.  He faces up to life in prison.

Jury taking the weekend to decide fate of “cannibal cop”

The “Cannibal Cop” has been convicted by a jury on all charges of plotting to kidnap, cook and kill women.

The jury has been deliberating since Friday in the case of Gilberto Valle, the 28-year-old NYPD officer charged with plotting to kidnap, torture and eat women.

The defense had argued that his plans were pure fantasy, but prosecutors insist his plans were aborted before something horrible could happen.

He had pleaded not guilty, and is now facing life in prison.

Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara praised the jury’s decision in a statement.

“Today, a unanimous jury found that Gilberto Valle’s detailed and specific plans to abduct women for the purpose of committing grotesque crimes were very real, and that he was guilty as charged.  The Internet is a forum for the free exchange of ideas, but it does not confer immunity for plotting crimes and taking steps to carry out those crimes.  I want to thank the jury for their time, their diligence, and their willingness to serve on a case of this nature, and I want to thank the dedicated prosecutors from my office who did such an outstanding job investigating and prosecuting this disturbing case.”

Jury taking the weekend to decide fate of “cannibal cop”

A verdict has been reached in the Cannibal Cop case. The jury has been deliberating since Friday in the case of Gilberto Valle, the NYPD officer charged with plotting to kidnap, torture and eat women.

The defense has argued that his plans were pure fantasy, but prosecutors insist his plans were aborted before something horrible could happen.

The verdict will be read soon.

For a third day, a jury has deliberated over whether or no so called Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle, 28, committed a felony crime when he made plans with other men online to kidnap, sexually torture, cook to death and eat women.  There is still no verdict.

The six-year veteran NYPD officer has insisted all along that he had engaged in fantasy role play only.  Prosecutors, by contrast, have argued that Valle’s plans were very real.  The question is, did federal prosecutors prove their point beyond a shadow of a reasonable doubt? The verdict will be the answer.

“We hope that the jury follows the law,” Julia Gatto, lead attorney for Valle, said late last week.  “If they follw the law, they will return a not guilty verdict.”

As she pointed out, jurors are required by law to assume that Valle is innocent, unless the argument and evidence prosecutors put forth  prove otherwise.

Among that evidence were unforgettable images, including a video of a woman chained by her bleeding wrists, screaming, while a digitally reproduced representation of a flame appears to burn her between her legs.

'Cannibal Cop' Gilberto Valle

Officer Gilberto Valle, once a cop in Manhattan’s 26th Precinct, has been held in federal custody since late October, when he was charged with conspiracy to kidnap women, in a sick plot to kill and then eat them.

 

FBI agents, who admitted that the video was most likely staged,  discovered it on one of two computers they seized from Valle’s home that he shared with his wife.  She alerted investigators to his activities, thereby opening the criminal case against him.

The video was among hundreds of other disturbing images, including pictures of women who appear to be dead, women who appear to be burned at the stake, and women tied to spits waiting to apparently be cooked, to name a few.

There was even a detailed fact sheet titled, “Abducting and Cooking Kimberly — A Blueprint,” in which Valle compiled extensive facts about a female friend of his, including her personal contact information.  But all of the information in the document, with the exception of the woman’s first name, was made up.  It all supports Valle’s defense, that he was strictly engaged in extensive fantasy.

Valle’s publicly-funded federal defense lawyers strongly stand by their client, saying that he should not be convicted simply for having disturbing thoughts, none of which he acted on directly.  “It’s an emotional case for us,” Gatto said.  “This is the kind of case why you become a defense attorney.  [It involves] the presumption of innocence and burden of proof, and we feel that the government has failed to meet their burden.”

In keeping with its established policy of not commenting on cases until a verdict has been reached, the U.S. Attorney’s office has made no comment regarding Valle’s trial.

NEW YORK (PIX11)- The jury deciding the fate of accused “Cannibal Cop”, Gilberto Valle needs more time.

On Friday after a day and a half of deliberations, the jurors asked the judge for transcripts of testimony from six witnesses.

Valle had allegedly made plans to sexually torture and cook four of the witnesses on that list.

The defense says all of the plans were simply fantasy.

The jury will reconvene on Monday.

The jury spent its first full day in deliberations in the Gilberto Valle “cannibal cop” trial. Their questions for the judge today gave only a slight hint of their focus, but shed no light on when they would reach a verdict.

After an abbreviated start late Thursday afternoon, the jury in the so-called “cannibal cop” trial requested testimony transcription for six witnesses and also posed a relatively complex question regarding jurisdiction.

They wanted to know whether acts committed by the former NYPD cop, or any of his alleged co-conspirators, needed to be committed within the court’s Southern District territory in order to find Valle guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping.

The Southern District is comprised of the Bronx, Rockland, Westchester, and several other counties.

That question – and the request for so many testimony read-backs — is perhaps an indication that the jury is having a difficult time reaching a consensus on the  “conspiracy to commit kidnapping” charge.

Defense attorney Robert Baum told reporters, “I think what the judge is telling the jury is, that in order to prove the charge, one of the things that must be proven, is there must be an overt committed in the furtherance of the conspiracy, and that act has to committed within the jurisdiction of the southern district, that includes, Manhattan, Bronx, and Westchester. And we’ve always argued, that never happened.”

Valle defense attorneys

Gilberto Valle’s defense attorneys leave the courthouse after the jury’s decision is pushed to Monday.

If you recall, Valle is not accused of actually kidnapping any of the women he allegedly tracked and researched, toward his alleged ultimate goal of cooking and eating them.

But prosecutors say he was well on his way to committing those crimes, and was arrested before he could carry them out.

Valle’s defense team told jurors his taste for quote “disturbing porn” was nothing more than a fetish that unfolded in an online fantasy — one for which he should not go to prison.

“We’ve always said that Mr. Valle participated in a vibrant subculture that exists on the internet, of fantasy role play. And that’s all it is. And there was no evidence supporting what the government was charging, which was very serious crimes…conspiracy to commit a kidnap”, said defense attorney Julia Gatto.

The jury adjourned at 4 o’clock Friday afternoon, and is scheduled to resume deliberations Monday at 9am.

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