NEW YORK (Reuters) - A New Jersey man offered to pay $5,000 to the so-called “cannibal cop” to kidnap a woman and deliver her to be raped, U.S. officials alleged on Friday.
Federal authorities arrested Michael Vanhise, 23, and charged him with conspiracy to commit kidnapping with Gilberto Valle III, a New York police officer who was arrested in October and charged with conspiring to kidnap, torture, cook and eat women.
In a series of emails last year, Vanhise tried to bargain down the kidnapping fee and urged the police officer to “just make sure she doesn’t die before I get her,” according to a criminal complaint unsealed Friday.
“No need to worry,” Valle replied in an email, prosecutors allege. “She will be alive. It’s a short drive to you.”
Vanhise admitted to investigators he sent the emails, prosecutors said.
Valle, nicknamed the “cannibal cop” by New York media, was accused of targeting women whose names were discovered in a file on his computer.
In November, Valle pleaded not guilty and said he was merely engaged in online fantasy role play.
Vanhise was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. He was expected to appear in court Friday afternoon. His attorney, Alice Fontier, did not immediately return a call for comment.
The emails between the two men “read like a script from a bad horror film,” Manhattan federal prosecutor Preet Bharara said Friday in a statement.
Vanhise was also accused of emailing photos and the home address of a girl from his Hamilton, New Jersey neighborhood to two unnamed people, according to a criminal complaint, which said Vanhise solicited the girl’s kidnapping.
Prosecutors said Vanhise tried to bargain down the price for the kidnapping to $4,000.
“Could we do 4?” Vanhise asked Valle in an email last February, according to the complaint.
“I am putting my neck on the line here ... $5,000 and you need to make sure that she is not found,” Valle responded. “She will definitely make news.”
Valle’s estranged wife tipped off authorities after she discovered a disturbing file on his computer, a law enforcement official said at the time.
The file, called “Abducting and Cooking: A Blueprint,” contained the names and pictures of at least 100 women, and the addresses and physical descriptions of some of them, according to court documents.
Authorities charged last fall that Valle had undertaken surveillance of some of the women at their places of employment and their homes.
Valle was denied bail by a judge who called the charges “profoundly disturbing.”
Both men face a maximum sentence of life in prison if convicted. The case has disturbed even veteran criminal investigators.
“No effort to characterize the defendant’s actions is necessary,” said FBI Assistant Director-in-Charge George Venizelos in a statement. “The factual allegations more than suffice to convey the depravity of the offense.”
Reporting by Chris Francescani; Editing by Daniel Trotta and Alden Bentley