Thu, Jul 26, 2018 - Page 7 News List

Mechanic receives seven years for kidnap-kill plots


A New Jersey car mechanic was on Tuesday sentenced to seven years in prison for a plot to kidnap, torture and kill women and girls, bringing an end to a criminal case that shed light on cannibalism and other fetishes circulating in dark corners of the Internet.

The sentence means Michael van Hise is to spend about six additional months in prison on top of the more than five years he has already served.

US District Judge Paul Gardephe’s sentence was less than half of what federal sentencing guidelines recommended.

The Manhattan jurist noted that Van Hise, 28, had cooperated with the FBI and had suffered a difficult childhood that included learning disabilities, parents who abandoned him and impediments that left him playing with little trucks and cars in his room at the age of 23, as if he were a child.

He also said Van Hise was less culpable than his codefendants: a school librarian and a former Massachusetts police chief who were sentenced to 15 and 10 years in prison respectively, for their roles.

However, Gardephe said Van Hise earned his prison time by turning to the Internet to recruit others to kidnap, rape, torture and murder his wife, as well as his sister-in-law and her four children.

In the conspiracy that resulted in Van Hise’s arrest, Gardephe said concrete steps were taken to carry out gruesome acts, including identifying locations where bodies could be buried and purchasing tools that could be used in the kidnap and torture of victims.

No one was ultimately harmed.

Defense lawyers insisted that the prosecution stemmed from sexual fantasies explored in an online underground where people shared macabre fetishes.

A jury rejected those arguments, convicting Van Hise at a 2014 trial.

The sentencing was delayed for years as Gardephe considered whether to uphold the verdict.

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