The convicted sex offender who admitted to killing a young aspiring dancer from Texas he met at a Manhattan nightclub in 2008 was a serial voyeur whose journals indicate he feared he might one day hurt a woman or himself, according to documents obtained by The New York Post.
Michael Mele pleaded guilty Monday to manslaughter in the death of Laura Garza, the 25-year-old woman whose skeletal remains were discovered in a Pennsylvania field more than a year after she disappeared.
Mele told prosecutors he brought Garza to his Orange County home after meeting her at the club, and when she got mad he had a girlfriend and demanded to be taken home, he got angry and killed her.
According to prosecutors, the 26-year-old man's pattern of escalating sexual deviance and his own writings suggest he was bound to commit such a crime.
As they prepared for trial, investigators discovered a cache of photos of unsuspecting women in a vehicle Mele had reported stolen shortly before Garza disappeared in December 2008. The 70 or so photos all captured women from behind and none of the subjects appeared to know they were being photographed.
None of the photos showed the women’s faces, partly because Mele viewed them only as an "assembly of body parts and hair,” prosecutors told the Post.
Authorities also discovered a video of Mele masturbating in the vehicle – an activity he apparently engaged in on a regular basis. Mele wrote in his journal that his sexual deviance escalated from masturbating in his car while watching women to doing so in front of them.
He blames an early exposure to pornography for building up his “sexual tolerance” and inspiring a need to go to greater, urgent lengths to fulfill his desire.
Mele had previous arrests for flashing women and for public lewdness in various malls around the tri-state area but wrote that he was far more dangerous than the crimes for which he was arrested suggested.
“I’m personally happy I was caught, which is an interesting viewpoint, but I could have ended up seriously hurting someone or myself,” Mele wrote, according to the Post.
The evidence also depicts an alarming portrait of a man who engaged in suspicious behavior up until the day before he killed Garza.
Among the 44 instances cited by prosecutors were notations that he had skipped three mandatory sex-offender meetings in the month leading up to Garza’s death and that his sex-offender counselors warned him about his “erratic behavior” just hours before he said he suffocated her.
Prosecutors noted an interview in which one of Mele’s friends told officials that he grew angry if women ignored him. They also noted an order of protection a former female friend filed against him after he allegedly broke into her car and laid her bra and jeans on the hood with the message “I gonna rape U” scrawled in white lotion when she refused to take him to a fashion show.
Prosecutors had amassed the trove of incriminating evidence in their effort to convince a judge to let them introduce Mele’s past sexual misconduct in the Garza trial because their evidence linking him to her death was entirely circumstantial, reports the Post.
Mele pleaded guilty to manslaughter and evidence tampering in a deal on the day his trial was scheduled to start.
He faces 23 years in prison.