NEW YORK – The estranged wife of a New York policeman sobbed as she testified Monday that her husband, who is accused of plotting to kidnap and cannibalize women, went online to discuss torturing and killing her.
Kathleen Mangan-Valle, 27, was the star witness for the prosecution in a trial that opened with her telling the jury that Gilberto Valle had a desire to “cannibalize human flesh.”
“I was going to be tied up by my feet and my throat slit and they were going to watch the blood drain out of me,” Mangan-Valle told a Manhattan jury.
Mangan-Valle also read about plans to put one friend in a suitcase, wheel her out of her building and murder her. Two other women were “going to be raped in front of each other to heighten their fears,” while another was going to be roasted alive over an open fire, she said.
The allegations are so gruesome the court had to screen potential jurors for their views on extreme sexual fantasies, showing them a photograph of a woman trussed up in a cooking pan, with an apple stuffed in her mouth.
Mangan-Valle said she caught her husband, who has pleaded not guilty to a kidnapping conspiracy, visiting websites that were dedicated to violent sexual fetishes. The couple were raising a young daughter at the time.
Mangan-Valle described her decision to flee the house with the baby after finding horrific pictures on a computer from one of Valle’s late-night Internet sessions. “The girl on the front page was dead,” she said, while another website her husband visited featured “pictures of feet that were not attached to bodies.”
On closer inspection, she realized that Valle, 28, had exchanged “thousands of emails” with other death porn enthusiasts and that he had shared photographs of people they knew.
“Suddenly I was staring at pictures of me, at pictures of friends,” Mangan-Valle said.
But Valle’s attorney, Julia Gatto, countered that the six-year veteran of the New York Police Department had only been fantasizing the whole time, and said her client was a good family man, despite “very bizarre” sexual fantasies.
She said the website where he exchanged his horrific ideas has 38,000 other registered members, all of them just fantasists.
“This is the difference between reality and fantasy. There is a difference between make-believe and the real world — that’s what this case is about,” she said.
“You can’t convict people for their thoughts, even if they’re sick,” Gatto added.
But lead prosecutor Randall Jackson called that defense “utterly bogus” and said Valle was targeting “very real” women, in one instance “discussing the logistics of fitting her into an oven.”
Once Mangan-Valle fled her home and reported his strange behavior to the FBI last year, agents uncovered “a heinous plot to kidnap, rape, murder and cannibalize a number of very real women,” Jackson said.
The officer had attempted to contact potential victims, including a New York City elementary school teacher, to learn more about their jobs and residences, the prosecutor said. His Internet research also included the best rope to tie someone up with, recipes, human flesh, white slavery and chemicals that can knock someone out, Jackson said.
The testimony by Mangan-Valle, in which she recounted turning her husband over to the FBI, hit a dramatic pitch when Gatto showed the court photos of the estranged couple in happier times. One snap showed Valle in police uniform cradling their newborn baby in the hospital.
Valle is accused of conspiracy to kidnap and illegally accessing law enforcement databases for detailed research on potential victims. He faces a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted on the kidnapping conspiracy charge.