Cannibal Cop’s Morbid Fantasy Crossed the Line

by Bill Brenner on March 13, 2013

The New York Times published a story about the conviction of Gilberto Valle, a police officer who apparently plotted to kidnap, torture and eat several women. He never actually abducted or killed anyone. It was mostly talk in seedy online chat rooms. Which begs the question: Should a person be tried and jailed for dark thoughts that percolate in the mind?

Mood music:


Valle’s trial highlighted some of the darkest corners of cyberspace, where, as the NYT noted, “fetishists hide behind Web identities like Girlmeat Hunter — the name that Mr. Valle used — and engage in role-playing fantasy about cannibalism and sexual torture.” Prosecutors successfully argued that Valle went beyond the fantasy and started laying the groundwork to carry out his dark fantasies. He kept files on women, illegally obtaining details from a restricted police database. He also researched kidnapping and cooking techniques. (See court documents here.)

My two cents: If you’re keeping detailed plans on your laptop and conducting surveillance, you’re moving past online fantasy and engaging in a real-world conspiracy. Using a restricted police database for the task is worth conviction on its own.

We’ve all had twisted thoughts. In some cases, those thoughts become obsessive-compulsive fantasies. Usually, the fantasy is about killing someone who caused pain and aggravation. Maybe it’s the boss who torments you. Maybe it’s the lady who cut you off on the highway. Then there are the sexual fantasies people have.

I’ve had my fantasies about punching people in the face and dropping them off a cliff. As a recovering compulsive binge eater, I’ve had vivid fantasies about the food I would binge on and how I’d get it. The latter fantasies often became reality. But eating Twinkies and Big Macs is not illegal, and though I’ve had fantasies of violence, I’ve never acted on them. That’s how it is for most of us. We entertain dark thoughts but don’t act on them, because for the most part we are law-abiding citizens with a sense of right and wrong.

If Valle was making blueprints and researching his potential victims, then his sense of right and wrong was impaired, making him a threat to public safety.

The lesson for the rest of us is that we must always work to control our actions. We can’t always stop the bizarre images our minds weave, but we can hold the line between fantasy and reality.

Those who have trouble doing so need to get help before they end up hurting someone.

Below: Former New York City police officer Gilberto Valle (L), dubbed by local media as the “Cannibal Cop”, listens as his wife Kathleen Mangan testifies in this courtroom sketch on the first day of his trial in New York February 25, 2013. REUTERS/Jane Rosenburg 

Cannibal Cop

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Fred March 13, 2013 at 12:14 pm

Good words and I’m sharing with a young man who also sometimes has angry thoughts. I agree with you. “Minority Report” came to mind.

Jim Abercromby March 21, 2013 at 12:07 pm

As Mr. B is intimately aware of, invasive thoughts in sufferers of OCD are almost like a living hell at times, we do not just sometimes have a unsavory or dark thoughts, they can quickly consume and overwhelm to the point where we think we are losing our shit badly.

Sometimes all the medication in the world is not enough to help, just to take the edge off. Which is sometimes just good enough.

This is every day, and it is reality for those of us dealing with it, and some of us are even completely oblivious to our condtions for decades before anyone including professionals notice it in us and can DX us clearly and then an action plan can be taken.

But many days lately the social (albeit even if they are mostly very limited in their duration) interactions I have with humanity show me quite overtly that although I have had some really unsavory thoughts that fire off in the synapses within my system, I am still more cognizant and aware than most emotionally non-compromised, so called stable healthy people.

Lately I really come to understand just how deeply ingrained and matured my OCD is.

But you can take these handicaps if you will and turn the black cloud theory into one of “Stay gold pony boy” every second of every day.

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