A New York City police officer accused of conspiring to kidnap, rape, torture and cook a number of women and eat their body parts has been arrested and charged in the case, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Manhattan said Thursday.
Gilberto Valle, 28, a six-year NYPD veteran, was arrested Wednesday at his home in Queens. He is accused of illegally accessing a national crime database to locate potential targets, scouting some of them at their homes and workplaces, and exchanging e-mails and instant messages with alleged co-conspirators about plans to target women, the attorney's office said.
"Gilberto Valle's alleged plans to kidnap women so that they could be raped, tortured, killed, cooked, and cannibalized shock the conscience," Manhattan U.S. Attorney 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. Our investigation is ongoing."
According to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation, Valle -- who the source says has a clean record -- apparently discussed the plans with other men on a website for people who fantasize about cannibalism. Authorities have no evidence he planned to carry out any of the acts he allegedly plotted with others on the online fantasy website, a law enforcement source says.
Valle was due to appear in Manhattan federal court Thursday, charged with one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and one count of illegally accessing and getting information from the National Crime Information Center database.
CNN's attempts to reach attorney Julia Gatto, who is representing Valle, were not immediately successful.
A criminal complaint filed in federal court says Valle was in contact with at least two women mentioned in his plans, though FBI spokesman J. Peter Donald told CNN the agency has "no information to believe Mr. Valle harmed anyone at this time."
The investigation began in September when the FBI learned that Valle was sending e-mails and instant messages from his home computer, detailing his plans, the bureau said.
A search of his computer revealed a database of "at least 100 women and containing at least one photograph of each woman," according to a statement from Bharara's office. "The computer also contained personal information about some of these women -- including relevant addresses, physical descriptions and photographs -- and electronic communications in which Valle and co-conspirators detailed their plans."
The FBI declined to say how it learned of Valle's electronic communications. A law enforcement source told CNN that Valle's estranged wife contacted authorities after finding pornography on his computer.
The women in Valle's alleged database live in the United States and overseas, according to a law enforcement source with knowledge of the investigation. At least three of them know Valle, another law enforcement source said. Court documents show one of the alleged targets dined with Valle at a Maryland restaurant.
The 100 women are in the process of being identified, then notified by federal and local authorities.