MANHATTAN (CN) - NYPD officer Gilberto Valle told his arresting officer that chatting online about cannibalizing women had overtaken his life and that "he did not enjoy it and didn't know why he was doing it," an FBI agent testified Friday.
Special Agent Anthony Foto told jurors that, after he cuffed Valle, he placed his hand on the man's shoulder and told him everything would be OK.
Valle responded, "I don't think so," Foto said from the stand Friday.
Foto was the lead investigator on the case and the loan agent in the room with Valle during his interrogation following his Oct. 24 arrest.
"He claimed that he would not have gone through with it," Foto said.
"He said he was willing to help the FBI distinguish between which users were for real and which were fantasy, and that it was hard to make distinction," he added.
Indeed, the central issue of the trial to date is trying to distinguish whether all Valle's gruesomely detailed chats and plots to kidnap and eat women were just an extreme fantasy, as he contends, or if certain chats represented real plots to abduct, kill and cannibalize women. Investigators claim that Valle engaged in real chats with three individuals: Dale Bollinger, who wrote under the pseudonyms Christopher Collins and Moody Blues; an as-yet-unidentified man who called himself Aly Khan; and a New Jersey man named Michael Vanhise.
Foto said Valle had offered up Moody Blues and Aly Khan as the most reality-based chat partners he encountered. The officer discussed Vanhise only after Foto brought those chats to his attention, the agent added.
"He said that Moody Blues and Aly Khan appeared to be more serious about discussions than others and, when he started talking to those individuals, it started bleeding into his personal life," Foto testified.
Valle also allegedly revealed to the agent that the friendship brought about more frequent and intense communications. He said he "was exhausted and had started pulling away from his wife and stopped having sex with her," Foto said.
Darkfetishnet.com marked the venue where Valle his alleged kindred spirits. Able to access his DFN account through his iPhone, Valle allegedly told the agent that he even used the site while on duty as a police officer.
When asked if Valle could also access Yahoo Messenger from his phone, Foto said he did not recall. The question is a key one because Valle shut down his DFN account before the FBI began investigating him in late September 2012, causing all those conversations to be permanently deleted.
All the chats in evidence are with partners Valle met on DFN, but also spoke with on Yahoo Messenger. Foto stated that the 28-year old Valle said he first became interested in cannibalism in college, but did not find DFN until 2010.
Foto also testified that when he asked Valle why he thought he was being arrested, valle responded that it must be for conspiracy to commit murder or for attempted murder.
On cross-examination, however, Foto admitted this statement occurred about an hour into a several hour interview once he had discussed the evidence against Valle, who, as the defense attorney Robert Baum put it, may have used his knowledge as an officer of the law to deduce the charge from what had been discussed.
Foto said Valle had also admitted to him that, when he arranged to meet Kimberly Sauer for brunch last summer along with his wife and baby, he had already discussed setting up such a meeting with Moody Blues to determine "if he wanted to kidnap her or not."
At the behest of Moody Blues, Valle also wrote about this plot in document titled "Abducting and Cooking Kimberly: A Blueprint." Moody Blues, who was arrested in England this week on child pornography charges, told Valle in the chats that he had killed and eaten two women. He allegedly acted as a mentor to Valle, who repeatedly spoke of "hunting" his first kill. Moody Blues told Valle which female body parts were choicest and the best way to find top-grade "girl meat."
Mike Vanhise resides in New Jersey and was arrested in connection with the case in January. Aly Khan, the third targeted chat partner, is thought to reside in Pakistan. Because he sent Valle a graphic video of the slaughter of a goat, investigators believe he is a butcher.
At the close of court Friday, U.S. District Judge Paul Gardephe still had not ruled on whether to admit 34 grisly photos that were found on Valle's computer and submitted by the prosecution as evidence. He is expected to rule first thing Monday morning. The photos include images of mutilated and disemboweled women including one of a corpse with no feet.
Arguing against the photos' probative value, Valle's defense attorney Julie Gatto said: "I don't think that after reading the chats the jury has any question that Mr. Valle's mind engages in dark thoughts."
Valle faces a life sentence if convicted on the charges of conspiracy to kidnap and improper use of a federal database, which he allegedly used to look up personal information, including the home addresses, of three of his online targets.
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