Cannibal Cop Gets New HBO Doc About Legality of Torture Fantasies


Gilberto Valle, the New York City cop who fantasized about abducting, murdering and trussing up women like turkeys is the subject of a new HBO documentary called Thought Crimes: The Case of the Cannibal Cop.

In 2012, Valle was arrested by the FBI and eventually convicted of kidnapping conspiracy because he loved talking about his cooking plans in torture fetish chat rooms. Still, a federal judge overturned his conviction and sent Valle home to Queens because his fantasies—like the one in which a woman “goes into the oven whole. Live cooking for my entertainment”—were never actually carried out.

Valle, who didn’t testify during his trial, does have something to say for himself in Erin Lee Carr’s (daughter of the late media critic David) documentary. In addition, new trial to restore Valle’s original conviction is set to begin on May 12 and he may get a life sentence.

In an interview with Rolling Stone, Carr said that the reactions of the audiences surprised her.

It’s so fascinating. It changes with every person and everybody has something different to say. I thought at first, women would think he was guiltier because they were the “intended victims” and men would just be like, “Ah, he could never have done it.” But it really runs the gamut.

But Valle’s violent fantasy were still off-putting to Carr and those around her during the documentary’s production.

It was surprising how much of the material made me uncomfortable. You would think after a certain amount of time reading those chats, your feelings of anxiety and fear go away, but it never did. It was in my dreams. I had Post-it notes and index cards about the crime and the cases in my apartment, and my roommates were like, “Hey, that’s disturbing. Please take it down.” HBO gave me an office, which was great because I could keep my creepy notecards there.

Elsewhere, Carr says she injected some dark humor into the documentary by filming Valle cooking and talking about his profile.

“We hoped that people wouldn’t laugh at him, but with him. Some of the laughter made me a bit uneasy, though, because I think everyone deserves to date.”

The director says her aim was to humanize Valle and dig into criminalizing what people are going to do—Minority Report’s PreCrime—and not what they’ve done.

[One juror] said the things that jurors are never supposed to say: that they convicted him based on what he might do and it was not beyond a reasonable doubt. We found that to be really dangerous and definitely solidified that Gil Valle should not be in prison and we were hoping to make that point clear that from a legal perspective, he should not have been convicted.

Image via HBO.

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