Former Stuyvesant High School Librarian Arrested in Plot to Kidnap, Torture Women

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    NBC 4 New York

    A former New York City high school librarian and a Department of Veterans Affairs police chief from Massachusetts are accused in a plot to kidnap and torture women with tools including a taser, a meat hammer, pliers and speculums, officials announced Monday.

    The librarian, Robert Christopher Asch, used to work at Stuyvesant High School, officials said. The other man, Richard Meltz, is the chief of police at the Bedford VA Medical Center.

    The FBI says the men responded last October to online solicitations. A man said he wanted help him kidnap, rape and kill his wife and sister-in-law and her children.

    Federal prosecutors say Asch met with undercover FBI agents several times in recent months to carry out what he thought was a plan to kidnap and torture a woman, and twice brought a bag of items he thought would be useful, including a black ski mask, a taser, handcuffs, a hammer, pliers, and forceps.

    During one meeting, Asch said a friend of his, later identified as Meltz, was interested in participating in the kidnapping.

    While conducting surveillance on the woman, who was a third undercover FBI agent, Asch told one of the agents "she has to die," according to court papers. He allegedly bought a taser gun last weekend in Pennsylvania, and called Meltz the following day to report the purchase.

    In a recorded conversation, Asch is accused of telling Meltz "this is a fairly high-risk operation."

    "Trying to snatch somebody off the street, home invasion, I think they're pretty high-risk," he said.

    The pair also discuss the dangers of committing crimes and getting caught through forensic evidence, and debate the merits of removing a victim's teeth, hands and head to prevent her from being identified.

    "I mean, there are ways to dismember and dispose," Meltz is accused of saying.

    Prosecutors say Asch met one of the agents on Monday, and brought a bag of tools. They say Meltz met an agent on Sunday and advised him the best way to dispose of the woman's body in some upstate woods.

    FBI Assistant Director George Venizelos said in a statement that both defendants took steps to carry out the plan. 

    "Their actions were not confined to talking about these ghoulish plans," he said. "They acquired the tools to accomplish the deed ... and they made detailed plans to use these instruments -- plans that were foiled by the FBI's intervention."

    It was not known if the men had lawyers.