NEW YORK — An NYPD officer was "about to act" on a plan to kidnap, cook and eat scores of women when feds swooped in to arrest him, authorities said Wednesday.
Gilberto Valle, 28, of Forest Hills, who's an officer at Morningside Heights' 26th Precinct, compiled a list of 100 women he knew, including a photograph of each one, along with their addresses and physical descriptions, and then he started staking out their homes and businesses, according to court documents. [Click here to read the shocking complaint.]
"If he had not been arrested, he would have carried out his plan," federal prosecutor Hadasa Waxman said at Valle's arraignment in federal court Thursday.
The six-year veteran of the police force used federal and state law enforcement databases to track down more information about his potential victims, according to a three-month FBI investigation into the horrifying plot. Investigators have interviewed 10 of the women and all confirmed they know Valle.
"These allegations are profoundly disturbing," said Judge Henry Pittman, who described the charges as the "most depraved, dangerous one could imagine" and "very serious, unspeakable conduct."
Valle was charged with conspiracy to kidnap and accessing an NYPD computer without authorization. If convicted, he faces a maximum sentence of life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.
Valle was held without bail following his arraignment. He wore a red T-shirt that said "Testudo's Troops 04," a reference to the sports teams of his alma mater, the University of Maryland.
Investigators uncovered emails and instant messages with Valle "discussing plans to kidnap, rape, torture, kill, cook and eat body parts of a number of women," according to the complaint filed in Manhattan Federal Court. The complaint also contained chilling conversations obtained by investigators.
"I love that she is asleep right now not having the slightest clue of what we have planned," Valle allegedly told a co-conspirator in a July 9 instant message. "Her days are numbered. I'm glad you're on board. She does look tasty, doesn't she?"
The same co-conspirator, who is cooperating with the investigation and has not been identified, also asked Valle how big his oven was.
"Big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs," Valle replied in an instant message the same day, according to the federal complaint. "I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus…cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible."
At the arraignment on Thursday, Julia Gatto, Valle's lawyer, said her client's comments were "idle talk" and "just fantasy" that started in fetish chatrooms.
"There's a line between fantasy and talking and reality and doing," Gatto said. "There was no actual crossing of the line from fantasy to reality."
Gatto added that Valle did not harm anyone.
But prosecutor Waxman countered that Valle was caught on the cusp of taking action.
Judge Pittman added that Valle should have known better.
"He carried a gun," Pittman said. "He knew the difference between right and wrong."
Valle's wife tipped off authorities to investigate her husband, sources said. The pair had relationship "troubles," Gatto said
The allegations "shock the conscience," US Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement. "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. Our investigation is ongoing."
FBI Acting Assistant Director in Charge Mary E. Galligan said, “It would be an understatement merely to say Valle’s own words and actions were shocking."
Investigators have been contacting the 100 women on Valle's list to ensure that they are alright, sources said.
Outside her Queens home, Valle's mother told DNAinfo.com New York, "I don't want to speak with you. I need to find out what happened to my son."
Valle's colleagues at the 26th Precinct said they were "stunned" by the allegations and described him as "just an average officer, nothing remarkable in either direction."
Valle's neighbors were also shocked.
Rafael Marichal, 33, the handyman in Valle's building, said Valle was married and recently had a baby girl.
"I'm very surprised," Marichal said. "He looked very nice. He doesn't look crazy."
Valle planned to knock out the victims with homemade chloroform, using a recipe he found online, he told his co-conspirator, according to the complaint.
"The abduction will have to be flawless," Valle said, according to documents. "I can just show up at her home unannounced, it will not alert her, and I can knock her out, wait until dark and kidnap her right out of her home."
On July 22, Valle traveled to Maryland to have lunch with one of his potential targets, identified in documents as "Victim-1."
On his computer, he had a document titled "Abducting and Cooking [Victim-1]: a Blueprint," containing information including her name, date of birth, height, weight and bra size, authorities said.
Valle is also accused of offering in February to kidnap another woman, described as "Victim-2," an acquaintance of Valle's, and deliver her to another co-conspirator for a fee of $5,000, court documents say.
"It is going to be so hard to restrain myself when I knock her out, but I am aspiring to be a professional kidnapper and that's business," Valle said in a Feb. 28 online message to the second co-conspirator, according to documents. "But 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."
Valle expressed some concern about getting caught.
He wrote online on Feb. 28, "This is very risky and will ruin my life if I am caught."
With reporting by Irene Plagianos, Nigel Chiwaya, Heather Holland and Emily Frost.