Officer Gilberto Valle, a 28-year-old father of one, was found guilty Tuesday on a charge of conspiracy to commit kidnapping and a charge of illegally using a federal computer database that prosecutors had said he accessed to gain personal information about women he was targeting.
The grisly case included online transcripts of his plans; at one point he told an alleged co-conspirator that his oven was "big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs."
"I was thinking of tying her body onto some kind of apparatus ... cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible," he was accused of saying.
Defense attorney Julia Gatto had argued that Valle's chats on fetish websites "are no more real than an alien invasion."
Prosecutors countered that an analysis of Valle's computer found he was taking concrete steps to abduct his wife and at least five other women he knew. They said he looked up potential targets on a restricted law enforcement database, searched the Internet for how to knock someone out with chloroform, and showed up on the block of one woman.
Valle "left the world of fantasy and entered the world of reality," prosecutor Hadassa Waxman said during closing arguments. She said the officer's arrest last year interrupted a ghoulish plan to "kidnap, torture, rape and commit other horrific acts on young women."
The jury heard Valle's potential victims testify that they were trading innocent-sounding emails and texts with him, unaware he was supposedly scheming to make meals out of them. The government also sought to drive home the point that Valle was more of a threat because he was a police officer.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement after the verdict was read that "the Internet is a forum for the free exchange of ideas, but it does not confer immunity for plotting crimes and taking steps to carry out those crimes."