NEW YORK — A former high school librarian and an auto mechanic who swapped ideas for abducting, raping, and killing women plotted to turn their disturbing fantasies into deadly action, prosecutors told jurors Tuesday, while defense lawyers said the men just thought up scenarios no more real than horror movies or violent pornography.
Retired librarian Christopher Asch and mechanic Michael Van Hise of Trenton, N.J., do not dispute that they discussed their ghoulish fetishes, with Van Hise even suggesting female relatives as potential targets and Asch assembling a macabre kit of apparent torture tools. When deliberations in their Manhattan federal conspiracy trial begin as soon as Wednesday, jurors will have to decide whether the men crossed a line between imagination and intention.
In a prosecution that grew out of another shocking case — that of a police officer accused of plotting to kidnap and kill women and eat their flesh — Asch and Van Hise are accused of scheming to brutalize Van Hise’s wife, stepdaughter, sister-in-law, and several nieces under age 10. Asch also is charged separately with plotting to kidnap a woman who turned out to be an undercover FBI agent.
Although no kidnappings ultimately happened, prosecutors insist the men’s objectives were more than mere talk.