A NYPD officer accused of plotting to kidnap and eat his victim: Crime Watch Daily has all-new details on a case that fascinated the city of New York and made headlines around the world.
It's an unprecedented case that leaves investigators wondering where fantasy ends and reality begins.
Warning: Some of the details in this next story are quite graphic and disturbing.
Three months before this scandalous story broke, NYPD officer Gilberto Valle is busy working the night beat in Harlem's Upper West Side. At 28 years old, Gil passes his sergeant's exam. The potential promotion and bump in pay will come in handy as Gil recently married his sweetheart of two years, and they've just welcomed a baby girl.
"I was a very good husband, I was a good father, I provided for my family," said Valle. "I did everything a man was supposed to do, and I loved doing it."
Life is good for the Valle family from Queens, New York.
"I lived a normal typical American life," Valle tells Crime Watch Daily's Chris Hansen.
But one of New York City's finest is leading a double life on the dark web. Valle is on a forum for adults to discuss their wildest fantasies and fetishes, and on one private members-only site in particular, the freakier the better: Killing women, cooking them and eating them. Also known as cannibalism.
"It's very graphic, brutal stuff, it was never anything real. It was all fictional," says Valle.
For two years, Gilberto Valle has been surfing the savage site, gawking at gruesome photos of women appearing to be bound and eaten. Valle admits it's not everyone's cup of tea or in this case, pound of flesh.
"Would it matter if I was a plumber, if I was an accountant?" said Valle. "People don't choose the things they're aroused by. Everyone has their own things. People don't choose it."
While many people view this as a sick, twisted world, Gil Valle claims it became a normal part of his everyday routine.
"I come home from work after midnight as a police officer and I'm kind of wound up. I would never go right to sleep. No police officer who works that shift goes right to sleep," said Valle.
Why not watch a movie or sports or something?
"I did that some nights too. I wasn't on the computer every single night," said Valle.
But on many nights, according to computer records, he is logged in from midnight to well into the predawn hours talking to his new friends.
Valle's wife and baby are sleeping in the next room while the maniacal messages flood the computer screen. It's a secret, cyber world, and Valle intends to keep it that way.
Cop by day, wannabe cannibal by night.
"It's not something I ever wanted to volunteer because I was afraid of what people would think," said Valle. "They would see me as some kind of outcast or a freak."
Valle explains it to me, saying what's sick to some people is sexually gratifying to others.
"I have no problem saying my thoughts are deviant, they're unusual, they're abnormal, but they don't affect who I am in real life," said Valle. "This was something I never planned on telling anyone."
But then it happens: Officer Valle's two worlds collide.
"She found the internet history of those kind of websites I was looking at. From there that led her to finding the chats," said Valle.
The clean cop's dark and dirty side is exposed.
The wife of NYPD Officer Gilberto Valle does a little searching on the computer and what she finds is beyond creepy. Her husband is not only talking to people about kidnapping and sexually assaulting women, but eating them as well: Cannibalism.
The big question: Were these disgusting thoughts about to become a gruesome reality?
Some of the details you are about to hear are quite disturbing.
NYPD Officer Gil Valle is living a secret life, cop by day, aspiring cannibal by night, until his deviant desires are discovered by his wife, who discovers she's one of his targets.
"She installed spyware on my computer," said Valle. "She thought I was having an affair."
An affair would have been a relief compared to the terrifying things his wife ultimately uncovers. Valle talked about kidnapping her and her friends, putting them in suitcases, raping them in front of each other and killing and eating them. That would scare a woman.
"I understand that, and these were fictional writings, again," said Valle.
But were they? Turns out Gil Valle had these demonic plans for his wife after their very first date. In his memoir Raw Deal: The Untold Story Of NYPD's "Cannibal Cop," Valle writes he got home he pleasured himself sexually while "Imagining her being chloroformed and kidnapped, stripped naked and laid out on a platter with an apple in her mouth."
And Gil Valle isn't alone. He's often chatting with several other wannabe cannibal creeps, including a librarian from New York City, a male nurse from England, a mechanic from New Jersey and a butcher from Pakistan. According to recovered chats between Valle and the butcher, the two men planned to kidnap Valle's wife and tie her up, slit her throat and watch the blood rush from her body.
And when it comes to killing his wife? Gil comments "She is a sweet girl. I like her a lot. But I will move on."
And Gil Valle's hunger for human flesh doesn't stop with his beloved. There's a section of the website that's entitled "What Would You Do To Her?" where users post photos of various women. Valle uploads hundreds of pictures of women.
"All the women that he talked about were real people in his life," said Crime Watch Daily Special Legal Correspondent Amy Dash.
Gil Valle's frightening fantasies appear to be based in reality, copied and pasted straight from his Facebook page.
"He talked about real people, real names, real dates," said Dash.
Gil's menu for murder includes a 27-year-old prosecuting attorney and college classmate.
"There's no denying that I wrote that stuff. It's just that it's one thing when I'm an anonymous screen name, it's another thing when I'm sitting here looking at you and I'm Gil, and I'm a person now," said Valle.
There's an acquaintance who Valle knows through his wife whom he allegedly plans to abduct and sell to an online buddy in New Jersey for $5,000.
And there's an 18-year-old student who attends Valle's high school alma mater.
"I speak about in these chats, a human-sized oven, a house in the middle of nowhere, a white van. None of this stuff exists. It's all clearly fictional," said Valle. "It's just writing. I understand how it looks, I totally get it. Based on completely fictional writing."
But when Gil Valle's wife reads these menacing messages, she packs up their baby and flees to her parents' home.
"Her initial reaction was to try and work this out," said Valle. "She sent me a text message after she left, she said 'I'm not giving up. Let's try and find a couple's therapist.'"
But Mrs. Valle went to the FBI. About a month after Valle's wife leaves him, all hell breaks loose. There's a knock at his door and when he opens it, there are six FBI agents with guns drawn squarely in his direction.
"I am a very good writer obviously. The FBI thought I was committing a real crime," said Valle.
Thought or knew? Ends up, the feds have been watching Gil Valle, and according to them he has been doing some watching of his own. The feds call it stalking.
"He was surveilling these women, so he had accessed an NYPD database and he had started looking up personal information," said Amy Dash.
Gilberto Valle had accessed, as a police officer, a law enforcement database, and was essentially using it illegally to get information on potential targets.
Officer Valle was charged with conspiracy to commit kidnapping and illegally accessing a federal law enforcement database. If convicted on the two felonies, the NYPD cop faces life in prison.
It's a sensational story. Inside the courtroom, the shocking and gruesome details of Valle's cannibalistic chats are dissected line by line. Then a big moment arrives when Valle's wife takes the stand. She tearfully testifies to discovering thousands of emails and photos of herself and friends on her husband's computer. For 12 straight days it's a parade of Valle's former college classmates and friends taking the stand. Each woman recounts the most ghoulish ways the cop planned to allegedly cannibalize them.
Then the prosecution puts their star witness on the stand. The six-man, six-woman jury hears testimony from a woman named Kimberly, a former college classmate of Valle's and a frequent topic of conversation between the NYPD cop and his English friend who chats with him on the dark site.
"They went into the chats and they had FBI agents categorize the chats into fantasy and reality," said Amy Dash.
The chats related to Kimberly are categorized as reality.
"And they said that one of the components that distinguished the reality chats were their specificity, and where he talked about real people, real names, real dates," said Dash.
Unlike the other fantasy chats, prosecutors claim Gil Valle appears to be taking real steps to kidnap and kill his former college friend. FBI agents point to a recovered document from his computer titled "Abducting and cooking Kimberly: a blueprint." In the blueprint, Valle lists materials needed: Car, chloroform, rope, gag, something to put in the trunk to collect any DNA, separate bag to gather her clothes, gloves and cheap sneakers.
Gil Valle did something that he hasn't done with the other potential victims.
"He ended up going, meeting that woman on that date, though he had lunch with her and brought his wife and his child," said Dash.
Kimberly is no longer an online fantasy. According to prosecutors, she's now potential prey sitting inches from her alleged hunter. But the defense claims it's not enough to prove conspiracy.
Valle's defense team says their client never purchased materials to commit these crimes or communicated with any of the alleged co-conspirators outside of the fantasy website.
"There's no way you can prosecute people in this country based on their thoughts alone without having actions to back it up," said special legal correspondent Amy Dash.
After nearly two weeks of testimony, the jury reaches a decision: Guilty.
When do thoughts cross the line into crimes?
For former NYPD officer Gilberto Valle, prosecutors say it was when he and several other men plotted to kidnap women, cook them up and eat them.
Now facing life in prison, Valle's story is about to take another incredible turn.
NYPD Officer Gil Valle, dubbed the "Cannibal Cop," was found guilty of conspiracy to commit kidnapping. He's also been nailed for accessing a federal government computer database without authorization. After Valle's conviction, his attorneys file a motion to appeal.
Journalist and Crime Watch Daily Legal Analyst Amy Dash is watching this case very carefully.
"The case appalled me from a legal perspective because it was such a thought-based prosecution," said Dash. "It was straight out of George Orwell's 1984, where a man had disturbing thoughts but did nothing in reality to back them up, and he was prosecuted and convicted."
But this isn't fiction, it's fact for former NYPD Cop Gil Valle currently facing life in prison.
"It's very hard, almost impossible to overturn a jury verdict," said dash.
For nearly two years, Gil Valle remained behind bars professing his innocence to Amy Dash.
"The bulk of the evidence from the prosecutors was internet-based, so you had chats, you had Google searches, blueprints for murder and rape, Google searches for chloroform, so the question becomes, Is all of that internet evidence enough to prove a conspiracy and to prove criminal intent, or do you need more? Do you need an action outside of the internet?" said Dash. "They only had that one lunch date as proof of surveillance. They played upon the fears of the jury and they said 'Is this the type of guy that you want out on the streets,' and this is what the jury bought."
But will the Appeals Court buy it?
"Is that enough to put me in prison for the rest of my life," said Valle. "What crime did I commit?"
While behind bars, the disgraced cop's defense team appeals the verdict.
Then the moment they've been waiting for: the Appeals Court decision is in. Stunningly, Gil Valle's conviction is overturned.
The judge in the case goes on to make a public statement:
"Moreover, the nearly year-long kidnapping conspiracy alleged by the government is one in which no one was ever kidnapped, no attempted kidnapping ever took place, and no real-world steps were ever taken to kidnap anyone." -- U.S. District Judge Paul G. Gardephe
"The Appeals Court said there's no way that you can prosecute people in this country based on their thoughts alone without having actions to back it up," said Amy Dash.
On the verge of tears and walking out of prison with his parents, the man behind the computer steps out of the shadows and speaks to the media.
"I want to take this opportunity to apologize to everyone who has been hurt, shocked, and offended by my infantile actions," Gil Valle said at the time.
Crime Watch Daily Special Legal Correspondent Amy Dash was the only reporter invited inside when Valle got home and walked into the arms of his mom.
During the ordeal, Valle lost custody of his daughter and his wife filed for divorce. Valle says he hasn't spoken to his wife since his arrest.
"I'm just so incredibly sorry that this all happened," said Gilberto Valle. "I wish we had our old life back."
But an acquittal doesn't equal innocence. It only means the prosecution failed to prove its case.
Crime Watch Daily spoke to forensic psychiatrist Dr. Park Dietz, who has interviewed some of the most notorious serial killers and mass murderers in America, including Jeffrey Dahmer, responsible for the deaths of 17 boys and men.
"Jeffrey Dahmer is one of those rare criminals who actually did consume part of the flesh of his victims," said Dietz.
Dr. Dietz spent days with Dahmer, who was caught with chopped-up body parts stored in his home in Milwaukee.
"But the way he went about doing that bore no resemblance to what Gil and the people he was corresponding with were talking about," said Dr. Dietz. "To be a cannibal, one has to eat human flesh. He never did that."
Dr. Dietz spent two days analyzing Gilberto Valle.
"There's absolutely no evidence that he ever carried out any criminal activity with respect to abduction or rape or kidnapping or murder or cannibalism," said Dietz.
In fact, Dr. Dietz calls Valle's sexual fantasies more cartoonish than criminal. Dr. Dietz also believes Gil Valle poses no threat to women, and paints him as kind of a "loser in love."
"A kind of shy guy who was a little slow to get around to having a sex life at all," said Dietz.
In his new book Raw Deal, Valle reveals this shocker about his sexual experience, writing:
"That is the thing about still being a virgin at 25 years of age, at some point it becomes less about the sex, and more about just getting it over with so you don't have to think about it anymore."
It's a far cry from his raunchy online chats.
"He's not a cannibal, never was, and in my view never will be," said Dr. Dietz.
Now in his 30s and working in construction, Gil Valle is still online, but this time surfing dating sites.
"I lost my family, my career, I'll never be able to shake this nickname 'The Cannibal Cop,'" said Valle. "That's going to stay with me forever. So I have, even though I've been exonerated, I've been acquitted, I'm still dealing with all kinds of ripple effects."