NEW YORK (AP) — In Internet chats as breezy as they were bizarre, a police officer accused of plotting to kidnap and eat as many as 100 women was once cautioned not to be wasteful when cooking a victim because "there is nearly 75 pounds of food there."
But no one was ever actually harmed in Gilberto Valle's alleged plot, let alone eaten. And a defense attorney says the officer was merely engaging in harmless Internet fantasy.
Where exactly the line is drawn between bizarre talk and a true plot has emerged as the key question in a case that has shocked even the most jaded New Yorkers.
Indeed, experts say many people have a compulsion to create horrific scenarios about cannibalism, and that the Internet allows them to indulge in their dark side anonymously and — usually — safely.
"There is a big difference between discussing, and even fantasizing about this type of activity and actually carrying it out," said Jeffrey Parsons, a psychologist at Hunter College. "Not all the people who fantasize about it will go on to carry it out."