Wednesday, October 31, 2012

The Chef

I have been following the case of 28-year old NYPD officer Gilberto Valle with some interest. After all, it isn’t every day you see someone accused of “conspiracy to cook and eat women.” According to the prosecution, Mr. Valle kept a detailed list of at least 100 women (complete with photos) that he planned to “kidnap, rape, and torture” before dinning on their cadavers. He allegedly used his access to the law enforcement NCIC database to acquire personal information about his culinary interests. 
Chef Valle
Apparently Valle, who had been discussing these plans at length with other members on a cannibalism fantasy website, had created a document titled “Abducting and Cooking [Victim 1]: A Blueprint.” The document contained a checklist of items he needed (car, chloroform, rope) and detailed information about the victim. In his electronic exchanges with other Internet cannibalism enthusiasts, the prosecution claims Officer Valle discussed the amount of “meat” one could get from a grown woman (around 75lbs was the consensus) and haggled over the price for kidnapping a victim (he wouldn’t take a cent under $5,000).

Gilberto’s defense attorney argues that his client did not actually harm anyone and that all the electronic evidence against him amounts to nothing more than “harmless, idle talk” insisting “at worse, these are sexual fantasies with people he knows." He has been suspended without pay pending the completion of the investigation. There is currently no word on the identity of his alleged co-conspirators and custody of his 1-year old son has yet to be determined.

I am not sure which aspect of the story is more disturbing: the fact that a police officer entertained fantasies of rape and cannibalism or that he discovered enough like-minded individuals to constitute an online quorum. How does a discussion group like this get off the ground? Was it the result of a chance meeting between two former college roommates?

“Dave! How have you been?”
“Can’t complain. You?”
“Not bad, what have you been up to?”
“Funny you ask, I have really gotten into fantasizing about cannibalism but I can’t find any websites that specifically cater to heterosexual men who consider it a pseudo-erotic activity.”
“You’re tellin’ me! I joined this one chat-room and it was a real freak-show. Some dude went on for ten minutes about his Thanksgiving recipe for two sautéed Englishmen with giblets.”    
“There should be a place to go for regular guys who just want to kick back, relax, and trade recipes for soccer-mom stew. Let’s get organized!”

There was even a quote from the chat-room where the guys would share pictures of proposed victims and comment on how “tasty” they looked. There has always been a lot of frightening stuff on the Internet, (my wife once Googled “Peek-a-pooh” trying to recall the proper name for a Pekingese/poodle mix) so perhaps I shouldn’t be so shocked, but this group could make members of an amputee fetish club appear well-adjusted.

I suppose it is possible the conversations were nothing more than verbal bluster meant to impress his friends, as we have all been guilty of exaggeration around a group of our peers. After all, what guy hasn’t stretched the truth a little when recalling how much they bench pressed in college or how exactly they came about the scar on their chin? However, I generally try and avoid the company of people who are only impressed by someone’s ability to plan and execute a rape/murder/dinner trifecta.

I realize that the defense attorney has a job to do, but I am concerned that he and I are operating under different understanding of what constitutes a “worst case scenario.” If your client is openly planning the kidnapping, rape, execution, and consumption of enough women to staff a Costco, I assure you that amassing zero victims and a pair of felony charges is nowhere near “worst case scenario.”

His best defense is probably the rudimentary nature of his “blueprint.” If Valle needed a Microsoft Word checklist to remember to take his car with him on a kidnapping, it is certainly plausible that he isn’t the criminal mastermind the government envisioned. I wonder if the list was the result of a failed test run whereby Gilberto found himself on foot outside the victim’s home with rope and chloroform trying to understand how to load an unconscious woman into a wheelbarrow.

I hope for all of our sakes the attorney was right and this was nothing more than an unusual culinary interest that got out of hand. Either way, if this guy starts hosting a show on the Food Network called Vixens & Vittles, I will be writing a letter.     

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