Gilberto Valle AKA The Cannibal Cop

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you have heard me say many times that regardless of guilt or innocence, my main passion in describing many of these crimes is how the law works, or at least how it is designed to work. As a society we tend to quickly convict someone in the court of public opinion based either on what the media has portrayed or even our own instincts.  I too have been guilty of this, however, in the end it is the justice system that should always prevail despite any misgivings I, or anyone else, should have concerning a case.  

For example, I would gander to guess that a majority of people believe that both O.J. Simpson and Casey Anthony are both guilty of the crimes in which they were charged and later acquitted. We may differ in why we believe they were acquitted however. I watched most of each of these trials as they were broadcast on television and have read many things on both cases In my opinion as far as the Simpson case, I believe that the prosecutors and the judge were the reason for the State losing their case.  I feel like the prosecutors should have put on every bit of evidence that they had, and did not; and I feel that Judge Ito allowed things in that never should have been considered in the case and that he was a lot more interested in the public and media attention than the law.  But again, that is just my opinion.  As far as the Casey Anthony case.... that one, to this day I do not understand.  I have heard that jurors wanted a "cause of death" which the prosecutors were unable to provide due to the decomposition of the child's body and hence they issued a "not guilty" verdict. Some say the prosecution in the Anthony case, just like the Simpson case, was lost by their own doing but I disagree.  I believe the prosecution in the Anthony case gave all that they had to give the jury members and in my opinion it was enough.  

In the same respect there have been many, many cases in which a person has been convicted in which I am unable to grasp the concept of how the jury came to that conclusion based on the evidence.  That is not to say that I did not think some of those defendants were not guilty, just that in my opinion the evidence presented was not sufficient to convict.  This is just such a case.  Thankfully however in this case it did not take the years or decades that many others, if they ever do, take to have the verdict looked at again and overturned.  Again, let me point out that this is a case in which quite honestly I am unsure of the character of the defendant but I do support that a vote for conviction was not only not warranted but it is one of those cases that had the conviction repeatedly been affirmed could have done much more harm to people.

Gilberto Valle was a 6 year veteran of the New York Police Department in October of 2012 when he was arrested on charges of conspiracy to kidnap and kill what prosecutors would later say over 100 women.  Not only was the media informed of the charges they found that they stemmed from an online website chat in which there was talk of cannibalism.  One of the supposed victims was said to be Gilberto's estranged wife.  Gilberto was immediately dubbed "The Cannibal Cop" by the media, based on their reports.  Gilberto was fired from his job upon his arrest.  His trial commenced in March of 2013 with Gilberto pleading not guilty.  

Prosecutors would claim that Gilberto's wife, Kathleen had contacted the FBI about a month before Gilberto's arrest, showing them a laptop she had taken from the home when she had left her husband with their daughter a few weeks prior. Upon inspection the FBI found the site DarkFetishNet.com in which they found conversations between Gilberto and other members of the site discussing the kidnapping, killing and dismemberment of several women, including Kathleen.  It was also said that there were searches on the computer for "how to knock out someone with chloroform" and where to get torture devices and tools.  They would also find that Gilberto had accessed a restricted law enforcement database of past victims and had compiled a list, presumably on his computer.  In a word document program they found what was called "Abducting and Cooking Kimberly: A Blue Print."  This latter document would play heavily at his trial.  Kathleen would be the main witness against him at his trial. Defense attorneys could hardly argue, nor did they try, that Gilberto had not entered the things found on the computer but they would argue that there were no plans or actions outside of fantasy and that one cannot and should not be convicted based on thoughts alone.  After a short trial the jury convicted Gilberto on all charges.  

Strangely by July of 2014 Gilberto, who had now served almost two years in jail, had still not been sentenced for his conviction when he walked into a New York courtroom. It was then that the presiding judge, Paul Gardephe ruled that he was overturning the conviction saying that the evidence supported that the defense position was correct and that it was fantasy role playing.  He also stated that by his assessment that nothing Gilberto did went beyond the Internet, meaning that there was no evidence that any plans to do anything were made in reality for anything.  This was all but proven in court when the prosecution had tried to say that there had been a plan between Gilberto and others involved in the site to kidnap three different women, from three different places (New York City, Pakistan and Columbus Ohio) at the same time and yet there was no move made to make this happen.  It is also plausible that at least one of the presiding jurors from the trial had already come forward and stated that the jury had convicted Gilberto, at least in part, based on what they thought he was going to do, not what he actually did.  Of course the prosecutors did not like this decision and while obviously had not convinced Gardephe against his ruling filed what seems to be an automatic appeal.  Gardephe had left the verdict stand against Gilberto that had found him guilty of using the restricted law enforcement database and at that point since he had served nearly two years and the general sentence for that crime was one year he found he had served his time on that charge.  However, likely due to the appeal Gilberto was not completely free. The judge did set bond for $100,000 and released him with a home detention bracelet until the case was resolved.  In December of 2015 the circuit court affirmed Gardephe's decision but it is said that it is likely that the prosecutors will continue to appeal and this case may see the inside of the Supreme Court one day.  

This case is scary to me.  Judge Gardephe was correct that it seems all the evidence that was used never went past the Internet.  In fact it was said that the FBI watched him for about a month and saw nothing suspicious but it appears that due to the allegations they were concerned because Gilberto was in a position of authority as a police officer and also legally had weapons and so the decision was made to search his home and then arrest him.  I should point out here that there was one website, a personal blog, not much different than my own that claims that Gilberto had "conducted physical surveillance of homes and work places" of some of the women on his life, who apparently were real women. However, out of all my research that was the only place in which I found this claim.  

When we start convicting people based on thoughts, fantasies or just based on Internet activity and searches where does that end? If my computer were searched right this minute authorities would be bombarded with searches that to someone else may seem strange.  There are countless searches on here that will have a name and then "and murder" after them.  This is how I search people for my blog research, or even when I watch a documentary show and I am curious to hear the ending before it is over.  I am sure I have made other searches that to the strange eye would seem weird.  If my husband were to die in a way that was or maybe even seemed odd to someone determined something was off my computer may seem to them to hold keys and yet I would have done nothing.  But beyond that, how far do authorities let that go.  I would gander to guess that a great many of the readers here have ex spouses or significant others that their feelings are less than stellar for.  I know my current husband and myself do.  We have been known to sit around and verbally express our fantasies as to what would happen to them. Does that mean that we should be arrested and held for conspiracy to commit murder?  Absolutely not! And no, I do not say this because this is because I speak of saving my own behind, I say this for everyone.  When there is no clear line there is always someone willing to cross that line.

With that said I think it important to discuss three other people who's lives were altered when Gilberto's wife went to the FBI with his laptop showing them the website in which things were discussed.  Some say that because Gilberto's case was overturned... so should the cases against these three men.  Despite everything I have said above, I am unsure based on what little research I have on them.  Those men were, Richard Meltz, Christopher Asch and Michael Van Hise.  The media dubbed them: "The Sadistic Security Guard," "Loathsome Librarian," and "The Murderous Mechanic."  These names were based off of their occupations although as far as I know they also could have been their code names on the site, I cannot be sure.  An investigation was made of them and a connection to Gilberto was made, at least slightly.  Some say that he and Van Hise had more conversations than the others but they were all members of this chat room on the sadistic site.  Like Gilberto, Meltz, Asch and Van Hise were all arrested and charged with conspiracy charges based a lot on things said on the site.  In January of 2014 Richard Meltz pleaded guilty.  Both Asch and Van Hise were sent to trials and found guilty.  The prosecution claimed that there had been a conspiracy between the two to murder someone within Van Hise's family.  It seems they did not have a clear target because many female members of his family had their names thrown around including his wife, sister in law, stepdaughter and nieces.  Just as Gilberto's defense had claimed theirs too claimed that it was a fantasy.  They pointed out that Van Hise's sister in law did not have a job and yet the online story was they would kidnap her from her job.  They also claimed that Van Hise had shared this site and what he'd said with his wife prior to all the charges showing that was never something they planned to do in reality. Prosecutors for their case pointed out that Van Hise and Asch had met at some point in person (although it seems that this seemed to be several months before anything was alleged online) and supposedly drove around talking about ways and places to hide bodies.  Unlike Gilberto's case this was something new that took place outside of the Internet, however that in of itself I am unsure would prove anything as by all accounts this was done before any "planning" of specifics and could have been, at least in my opinion, more role playing. Van Hise's defense also pointed out that in all of the writings only one date was ever mentioned of anything happening and yet nothing ever happened on that day, in fact it was proven that Van Hise was out shopping with a relative that day.

And yet still Christopher Asch's case was still a bit different but in complete fairness I will state that I did not specifically search his case and only came across it while searching Gilberto's case.  However, from my understanding of it all when the FBI started looking into all of these men they asked each of them, who claimed they themselves were only fantasizing, if there was anyone on the site that they thought could possibly be serious in their thoughts.  It appears that they all seemed to point fingers at each other or at least several at Asch. It appears that after this conversation the FBI set up a sting in which an agent posed as a member of the site to get close to Asch and then had another agent posing as a "target."  They would claim that Asch went with the first agent as they "stalked" and discussed the other one.  Asch was additionally charged and convicted for this crime.  Playing devils advocate here I am unsure that this was not completely entrapment.  Yes, it did go further than anything Gilberto had done and yes, his case was overturned because it apparently did not go outside the realm of the Internet, but again, how do we know anything "could" happen? 

As far as Richard Meltz goes, I cannot say a lot about his participation or what it was he actually pleaded guilty to.  Nor, did I look into these cases enough to see what they were ultimately sentenced to.  The last I saw on this was upon Gilberto's release they were still in prison and there were articles discussing if they too should be released.

The point here is that when we start convicting people on thoughts, fantasies or even as some say "future acts" and not acts they have actually committed, what are we doing or even saying about society?  I have often said before that it is the laws and the justice system that we have to depend on to stop cases where someone (be it a prosecutor or a detective) from twisting facts and making up laws to fit their needs to "get their man."  The days of getting on the Internet and being completely anonymous are over and most people know that.  We can be traced by any number of ways today to discover our identity.  Should we be careful in what we say? That depends I suppose.  People that know me, know that I am a rather blunt person and if I feel something I say it.  We so often complain that people pretend to be people they are not because they hide behind a computer screen, but we really cannot have it both ways.  

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