He targeted dozens of women, wanting to kidnap, torture, kill, cook and eat them, but lawyers for so-called Cannibal Cop Gilberto Valle say he did nothing illegal whatsoever. They said in opening arguments that the disgraced NYPD officer was engaged only in sexual fantasy adventures, but emotional testimony that his estranged wife gave on the stand said that his intentions were dangerously and brutally real.
Kathleen Mangan, 27, was the first witness called by prosecutors on the first day of trial, Monday. She spent the entire afternoon in tearful testimony, at times weeping as she detailed how she learned about her husband’s secret online horror sex alter ego. Officer Valle, 28, was also in tears in the courtroom.
“He hasn’t seen his child, and it’s the first time he’s seen his wife since he was arrested” the last week of October, his attorney, Julia Gatto, said after the hearing.
During the testimony, Valle held his head in his hands, crying, while his wife wept as well. She told jurors about how the patrol cop at Harlem’s 28th Precinct would get home from his shift at midnight and stay up until 4:00 or 5:00 in the morning online.
She got suspicious, and late last summer installed spyware on their computer. When she was finally able to check to see where he’d visited online, she said from the stand that she was shocked to see how much time he spent on one particular website that specializes in horror fantasies.
“The girl on the [home]page was dead!” his wife exclaimed in court. “There were pictures of feet not attached to bodies.” She kept browsing, and saw at least one other model. “I realized this was way worse. She was hung and naked, and blood was all over her.”
The website, darkfetishnet.com , Valle’s attorneys said “is at the center of this case.” Gatto, the lead attorney, described it as “The Facebook for fetishists” who fantasize about “cooking and eating women.” However, Gatto pointed out in court, the website’s homepage notes clearly that it is for fantasy only.
But Valle’s wife said that her encounters with the website show that the six-year veteran cop had very real plans to do extremely graphic and deadly harm.
She moved out of the house last September, once she figured out that her husband had an extensive alternative life online of which she didn’t approve. She took their laptop and baby daughter to her parents’ home out west, and said that after a few days of trying to recover from shock, she looked at more results of her spyware application.
It showed Valle’s login and password information to his Yahoo account. She wept on the stand as she described what she learned. “There were thousands of emails [with] pictures of me, friends, and people we knew.”
She then learned in detail what her husband had told others he had wanted to do with her specifically. “I would have my feet tied, hung upside down, and my throat slit,” she said. “If she cries, don’t listen,” one of the other users told Valle, according to his wife’s testimony. “Don’t worry, I’ll gag her,” she said he wrote to his online fantasy community.
His wife, a teacher who’d decided to become a stay at home mom, explored further to find that he’d discussed extensive plans for many of her friends and acquaintances, as well. One woman, a teacher at his wife’s school in East Harlem, Valle had planned to capture in her apartment, and put her in a suitcase in order to deliver her for a fee to someone else in his network of friends.
With at least two more women Valle knew, he’d written extensively online of his plans to capture them, tie them to a spit over a fire, and slow cook them well enough to keep them alive so they could fully experience the pain before being cooked to death. He also posted the women’s photos, their ages, height and weight.
The officer’s attorneys insisted, however, after the testimony, that he had done nothing wrong. The FBI, which arrested Valle after his wife had gone to them with the computer she and her husband had shared, didn’t do proper research to find out about the large horror fantasy community before deciding to arrest him, Gatto said.
Valle faces two different charges, though, conspiracy to kidnap and unauthorized use of a computer. The latter charge was not heavily discussed in court by the officer’s attorneys, even though he’s accused of using his law enforcement officer status to access the National Crime Information Center (NCIC) database in order to find classified information about the women he wanted to pursue.
“That will be addressed in court,” one of Valle’s other attorneys, Robert Baum said after Monday’s hearing. The trial continues Tuesday morning with prosecutors expected to call more women who Valle targeted online to testify against him.