A Hamilton Township man was arrested on charges that he sought to pay $5,000 to a New York City police officer - later charged in a cannibalism case - to kidnap a Manhattan woman that he intended to rape and kill.
Michael Vanhise, 22, was charged Friday with conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison. He was arrested at his Trenton home, accused of agreeing to pay Gilberto Valle for the abduction last year when Valle was an active police officer.
Federal prosecutors and the FBI said Valle was supposed to kidnap the woman in New York and bring her to Vanhise's home in New Jersey, where she would be raped and killed. They said Vanhise also participated in planning the kidnapping of a girl.
NBC10's Marisa Brahney spoke to Vanhise's aunt Saturday about the allegations. The woman, who did not give her name, told NBC 10 her nephew was just living out a fantasy.
"It just got out of hand, it never occurred, no one was hurt, and no one was harmed. Mike is a good kid, he's really shy and quite. Yeah, he made a mistake but he never hurt anyone nor would he."
The woman went on to say that Vanhise is fully cooperating with police.
"Once he felt the situation was getting out of control, he went to authorities on his own and has cooperated fully since. We love him, we believe in him, and we support him."
Vanhise also admitted emailing others about kidnapping, raping and killing women and children, the FBI said in court papers unsealed in U.S. District Court in Manhattan.
Valle was charged last year with using a law-enforcement database as he allegedly made plans to kidnap, rape, kill and eat women. The officer's lawyer said he was engaging in sexual fantasies and intended no violence.
U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said Vanhise engaged in conduct “that reads like a script for a bad horror film.”
He said the arrest was the second “in this bone-chilling case, but we are not finished.”
George Venizelos, head of the New York FBI office, said the charges “convey the depravity of the offense.”
According to court papers, Vanhise and Valle negotiated last February to carry out the kidnapping of the Manhattan woman, saying in email conversations that she would be knocked unconscious before her hands and feet were bound and she was gagged. The men conspired to stuff her into a large suitcase and deliver her to Vanhise's home, where Valle insisted she would still be alive so that Vanhise could rape her, authorities said.
The court papers said Vanhise also emailed photographs of a girl whom Vanhise knew well after other unidentified co-conspirators expressed interest in kidnapping the child.
Valle, 28, of Queens, was charged in October with one count of kidnapping conspiracy and one count of accessing a computer without authorization. He is awaiting trial.