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3 previously charged in cannibal cop case due in court in kidnapping-murder plot

April 25, 2013 5:54:32 AM PDT
An indictment returned by a federal grand jury Wednesday named a New Jersey man previously charged in a cannibalism scheme and two men accused in a kidnap-rape plot, though the document in federal court in Manhattan made no mention of cannibalism.

The rewritten indictment was returned against Michael Vanhise, 22, a Trenton, N.J., auto mechanic; Robert Christopher Asch, 61; and Richard Meltz, 65.

Vanhise was originally arrested in January and charged with plotting with former New York Police Officer Gilberto Valle to kidnap and murder a Manhattan woman. Valle, who prosecutors say plotted to eat women, was convicted last month of conspiracy charges and is awaiting sentencing.

Asch, a former librarian at Stuyvesant High School in lower Manhattan, and Meltz, the chief of police at the Bedford Veterans Administration Medical Center in Massachusetts, were arrested last week and charged in a plot to kidnap, rape, torture and kill women, children and infants.

The rewritten indictment charged the three men with kidnapping conspiracy.

According to the document, Vanhise and Asch met in the spring of 2011 and "discussed a plan to kidnap women." The document said Asch later met with an undercover FBI agent to discuss plans to kidnap and kill a woman and then discussed the killing of a woman in a telephone conversation with Meltz.

All three were scheduled to be arraigned on Thursday.

Alice Fontier, a lawyer for Vanhise, said the new indictment is based on information obtained several months ago.

"The government has not learned anything new that would indicate that Mr. Vanhise actually intended to commit the offenses. He maintains his innocence and will be proceeding to trial," she said.

A lawyer for Meltz, Peter E. Brill, called his client "a devoted husband, a loving father and a dedicated public servant."

"He never had any plan, intent or desire to see anyone hurt or killed at any time in real life," Brill said. "For anyone to suggest otherwise, despite his fantasy role-playing, is ludicrous."

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