The FBI has arrested the police chief for a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Massachusetts and a former librarian for allegedly plotting to kidnap, torture, rape, and kill women and children.
Richard Meltz, chief for the Veteran Affairs Medical Center in Bedford, was arrested Sunday. Agents took Robert Asch into custody today.
"The bone-chilling conduct alleged in this complaint is a chronicle of sadism and depravity that includes the defendants' very real steps to carry out their plans to kidnap, torture, rape, and kill the women and children they targeted," said Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara. "Meltz provided 'strategic advice' and Asch conducted surveillance and provided supplies including leather ties, a sleeping agent, instruments of torture, and a TASER gun."
Meltz and Asch discussed the plan in detail in e-mail with co-conspirator Michael Vanhise between 2011 and October. Vanhise had sent e-mail and instant messages soliciting Meltz and Asch to kidnap, rape, and kill his wife, his sister-in-law, her children, and his step-daughter. Meltz eventually responded by writing, "we go over there she know you let's [sic.] us in we choke her out tie her up throw her in the back of your car take her someplace and [rape and torture her]."
Asch met with an undercover FBI agent several times in Manhattan and provided a bag of materials to be used during the kidnapping and torture of another undercover agent. The materials included a ski mask, hypodermic needles, leather ties, chrome forceps, a three-page gun show itinerary, documents relating to a "leg-spreader" and "dental retractor" that Asch claimed to have purchased, and the liquid form of doxepin hydrochloride, commonly used as a sleep agent.
Asch introduced the first agent to Meltz, who participated in multiple conversations about the conspiracy's objective to kidnap and commit acts of violence against women. Meltz provided advice about the use of a stun gun in the kidnapping.
Meltz allegedly gave advice about how to murder a woman, such as avoiding toll roads, using rental cars, paying for tools with cash, looking for victims in desolate areas, abducting victims at night, and using disguises when first approaching a potential victim.
On Sunday, Meltz met with the first undercover agent in New Jersey. Meltz and discussed the kidnapping and murder of another undercover agent. Meltz said if the body were left in the woods, wild animals would likely find and destroy it before law enforcement could find it.
Asch, 60, of Manhattan, and Meltz, 65, are each charged with one count of conspiracy to commit kidnapping, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison and a maximum fine of $250,000.