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Alleged ‘Cannibal Cop’ Co-Conspirators Plead Not Guilty

Trial Scheduled To Begin In November
Michael Vanhise (MySpace)

Michael Vanhise (MySpace)

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NEW YORK (CBSNewYork/AP) — The three additional defendants swept up in the so-called “cannibal cop” investigation pleaded not guilty to kidnapping conspiracy charges Thursday.

Defendants Michael Vanhise, Robert Christopher Asch and Richard Meltz will go to trial together.

As WCBS 880’s Irene Cornell reported, tapes of about 70 phone calls, computer records, testimony of an undercover FBI agent and the kidnapping gear that Asch accumulated will be among the evidence entered against them.

Asch, a former Stuyvesant High School librarian, and Meltz, a deputy chief with the Department of Veterans Affairs Police Department in Massachusetts, were arrested and charged earlier this month.

According to prosecutors, Asch accumulated a black ski mask, hypodermic needles, handcuffs, a hammer, leather ties and a taser that he traveled to Pennsylvania to buy in a gun show. FBI agents spent hours combing through his apartment looking for evidence.

“She has to die,” is a statement that will be used against Asch. According to prosecutors, Asch was conducting surveillance of an intended victim who happened to be an undercover FBI agent.

Asch is charged with targeting that woman and discussing the kidnapping with Meltz, who expressed his interest in being part of it, prosecutors said.

Vanhise allegedly e-mailed both Asch and Meltz about kidnapping and killing his wife.

Asch and Meltz are charged with conspiring from at least the spring of 2011 until Monday to carry out the plot, according to the criminal complaint.

Vanhise was arrested in January for allegedly offering to pay convicted cannibalism plot conspirator Gilberto Valle $5,000 to deliver a victim who could be raped, tortured and killed.

Outside court Thursday, Vanhise’s lawyer said she’ll seek to exclude mention of his ties to the former NYPD officer at trial.

Attorney Alice Fontier said Thursday that cannibalism is too “creepy” for jurors to hear at the upcoming trial.

Valle was convicted last month of conspiracy charges and is awaiting sentencing.

The trial for the three men is scheduled to being in November.

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