US & Canada

New York policeman 'in cannibal plot'

Court sketch of Gilberto Valle, New York, New York 25 October 2012
Image caption Authorities say Gilberto Valle kept files of more than 100 women on his computer

A New York City policeman has been arrested for an alleged plot to kidnap women, rape and torture them and then cook and eat their body parts.

Gilberto Valle is being held in custody without bail on charges that include kidnapping conspiracy and unauthorised use of law enforcement databases.

The authorities were alerted by the suspect's estranged wife.

No women were hurt, but the 28-year-old used police records to gather data on potential victims, officials alleged.

Magistrate Judge Henry Pitman said the charges against the officer were "profoundly disturbing".

Mr Valle, who has served in the police force for six years, sat quietly through the hearing, correspondents say.

His public defence lawyers said the alleged plans were a deviant "fantasy in a sexual world", that had never crossed the line into reality.

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Media captionSarah Maslin Nir, New York Times: "It looks like his wife was the one who alerted police"

But prosecutors argued the officer had come too close to executing his plans.

Mr Valle, who lives in Queens, was assigned to a police precinct in Manhattan.

'Meeting potential victim'

Federal officials say they learned about Mr Valle's plan in September after he discussed with an unidentified co-conspirator on emails and instant messages from his home computer.

His wife, Kathleen, from whom Mr Valle had separated, contacted the police after finding disturbing material on the computer, officials said.

The FBI and police internal affairs officers then seized the machine, and found the messages about the alleged plots. The communications were from a fetish chat room with people outside the US, an official said.

According to the complaint, Mr Valle and his co-conspirator discussed using chloroform to make victims lose consciousness, before bringing them back to Mr Valle's kitchen.

"I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus... cook her over low heat, keep her alive as long as possible," Mr Valle wrote in one online exchange in July, says the complaint.

He met one potential victim over lunch, say the authorities.

His co-conspirator allegedly asked him: "How was your meal?" to which Mr Valle is said to have replied: "I am meeting her."

The complaint alleges that the accused negotiated in February to kidnap another woman for someone else, writing: "$5,000 and she's all yours."

It says he added: "I will really get off on knocking her out, tying up her hands and bare feet and gagging her. Then she will be stuffed into a large piece of luggage and wheeled out to my van."

A search of his computer allegedly revealed files kept on at least 100 women, each with a name and photograph and often personal details such as addresses and descriptions.

"The allegations in the complaint really need no description from us. They speak for themselves," FBI acting assistant director Mary Galligan said in a statement.

Chief Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said: "This case is all the more disturbing when you consider Valle's position as a New York City police officer and his sworn duty to serve and protect."

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