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Ex-Stuyvesant Librarian Wanted to Kidnap and Kill Women and Kids, FBI Says

By Andrea Swalec | April 15, 2013 5:17pm | Updated on April 15, 2013 5:56pm
 Kidnapping suspect Robert Asch was arrested at his Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street home April 15, 2013.
Kidnapping suspect Robert Asch was arrested at his Greenwich Avenue and West 10th Street home April 15, 2013.
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DNAinfo/Andrea Swalec

MANHATTAN — A Village resident and former Stuyvesant High School librarian was arrested Monday on allegations that he and conspirators planned to kidnap, rape, torture and kill women and children.

Greenwich Avenue resident Robert Asch, 61, stockpiled supplies to kidnap and kill people in attacks he had plotted for the past two years, according to an investigation by the FBI.

FBI documents released Monday say Asch and Richard Meltz — a 65-year-old police chief at a U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs medical center in Bedford, Mass. — planned in meetings with undercover FBI agents and through monitored phone calls and email correspondence how they would strike. 

Asch was cuffed after he met with an undercover officer in lower Manhattan Monday morning to conduct surveillance of a woman he planned to kidnap, rape, torture and kill, the FBI announced. Unbeknownst to him, his target was also an undercover officer.

The FBI says Asch brought to the meeting tools intended to be used to torture and kill the woman, including a taser gun, rope and duct tape. 

Asch will be charged in federal court with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and maximum fine of $250,000. 

Asch and his co-conspirators did more than just talk about killing, Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said.

“The bone-chilling conduct alleged in this complaint is a chronicle of sadism and depravity that includes the defendants’ very real steps to carry out their plans to kidnap, torture, rape and kill the women and children they targeted," Bharara said in a statement.

"The only thing that stood between these alleged kidnappers and their horrifying plot was the outstanding investigative teamwork of the FBI and the prosecutors in [the federal attorney's office].”

FBI agents followed Asch to a gun show in Allentown, Pa., on April 6, where he bought a taser gun he said he wanted to use to incapacitate his victims, according to the criminal complaint.

The FBI learned of Asch and Meltz's plots in October 2012, when they discovered the men were planning to kidnap and murder women with Michael Vanhise, who was arrested in January for plotting with "cannibal cop" Gilberto Valle, according to FBI documents.

Asch, Meltz and Vanhise discussed killing Vanhise's wife, step-daughter and sister-in-law, according to FBI documents.

A federal jury found Valle guilty last month of conspiring to kidnap women, then cook, kill and eat them. Valle, 28, faces life in prison when he's sentenced in June.