For a day, the safest big city in America seemed suddenly deranged, as the news that a New York police officer had been arrested for conspiring to cook and eat numerous women was followed by a horrifying report that a woman had returned home to find the nanny apparently had knifed to death two of her children.
The second, far more disturbing event on Thursday, was announced by the screams of a mother who had just come home after picking up her 3-year-old daughter, Nessie, from what was said to be either swim or ballet class. Marina Krim discovered her two other children, Lulu, 6, and Leo, 2, lying fatally stabbed in a bathtub. Their 50-year-old nanny lay face-up nearby with what is believed to be a self-inflicted wound to her throat. A bloody kitchen knife lay beside her.
“Help me! Help me! My kids! My kids!” Krim was heard to scream.
The 36-year-old mother clutched her surviving child and kept screaming until she could scream no more. Beyond comforting amidst the cops and paramedics, she then went silent and sat clutching little Nessie in total shock and the profoundest grief.
“I need a doctor,” she was heard to say.
Krim and Nessie were taken from her W. 75th St. building to St. Luke’s Hospital, where the other two children had been pronounced dead. Leo, nicknamed Lito, had been the subject of an entry in the mother’s Live Journal blog, “Life With the Little Krim Kids,” page posted just three hours before.
“Leo speaks in the most adorable way possible,” the mother had written at 2:33 p.m. Thursday. “Firstly, he speaks super clearly, so you can understand every word is he is saying And he does things like, “(I) want a fresh bagel” and “Dito (what he calls himself) wants cold milk” and most adorable of all, “No thank you”—he never uses “No” alone, it’s always paired with “thank you.”
A series of pictures below, posted just the day before, show the kids enjoying New York at its best.
The 6-year-old is seen enjoying a frankfurter. “A New Yorker and her dog,” says the caption.
Another photo shows the 3-year-old at a phone booth. “Nessie and … every phone booth on Broadway…Fun Times!” this caption reads.
To make the horror of the murders complete, the father, Kevin Krim, CNBC’s general manager of digital content, was on a flight back from out of town, unaware of the news that waited him when he landed in a New York that was supposed to have become so sane.
The city had already been jolted earlier in the day when 28-year-old NYPD officer Gilberto Valle was charged with conspiring to kidnap, torture, roast alive, and eat numerous women.
Until his arrest, Valle had seemed just another young cop raising a family. He worked out of the 26th Precinct stationhouse in Harlem, and grumbled about liberal judges letting perps off too easy, and at the end of each shift he returned to his wife and 1-year-old daughter and an apartment in middle-class Forest Hills.
There is a white child-safety gate by a step leading down into the living room. A white paper sign on the wall seems to speak of overprotective modern parents and only acquired irony after the arrest.
“STOP! Please wash your hands in the kitchen. Thanks!”
There also was a computer, and on it Valle is alleged to have made online forays that were as different as they could possibly be from Marina Krim’s loving and tender Live Journal entries. He seems to have become the sickest kind of monster even as he sat with his own family, based on the criminal complaint filed in Manhattan Federal Court on Thursday. His alleged depravity as described in the complaint was matched only by that of a co-conspirator with whom he allegedly plotted to cook and eat various women.
According to the complaint, Valle told his co-conspirator that his oven is “big enough to fit one of these girls if I folded their legs,” but he apparently had something else in mind.
“I was thinking of tying her body into some kind of apparatus … cook her over a low heat, keep her alive as long as possible,” Valle allegedly said in an online chat.
The complaint indicates Valle apparently had a first victim in mind and he apparently showed a photo of her to his co-conspirator during a late night online chat.
“I love that she is asleep right now not having the slightest clue of what we have planned,” Valle said, according to the complaint. “And she does look tasty, doesn’t she?”
“You know, if we don’t waste any of her, there is nearly 75 pounds of food there,” the co-conspirator allegedly replies.
Valle also allegedly plotted to kidnap another woman and deliver her to a second co-conspirator for $5,000.
“I would rather not get involved in the rape. She is all yours and I don’t want to be tempted the next time I abduct a girl,” Valle told the second co-conspirator, according to the complaint.
Valle is further charged with using a federal database to collect information on a third prospective victim. He is alleged in the complaint to have created files on “at least 100 women,” some likely from his hours on cyber-dating sites, where he was not described as married, merely “in a relationship.”
He reportedly said, in a first entry reported by the news website DNA IFO, that he likes Italian, Mexican, Chinese, and Japanese food, but “I’ll trying anything and I’m not picky at all.” He also said that “Green Eggs and Ham” by Dr. Seuss was his favorite book.
“It’s about a guy named Sam who makes this new breakfast and tries to get his neighbor to try it,” Valle reportedly says in his post. “After many failed attempts, the neighbor finally eats it and to his surprise he really likes it. The Doctor’s message in his literary work is that it is good to try new things. I try and employ it in my everyday life.”
Word of Valle’s arrest and of the charges against him were met with disbelief by people outside the station house where he was assigned.
“Him?” exclaimed Sheldon Garland, the 68-year-old choir director at St. Mary’s Church, directly across W. 126th Street. “He’s a police officer.”
Garland said he often had seen Valle come and go through the station house’s double-glass doors. Garland added with an equanimity that comes with age that there are good and bad in every profession.
“But, he’s a bad apple, a really messed-up apple,” Garland said.
Indeed, the whole story seemed to be about as bad as could be—until the news broke, just as night fell, about every parent’s absolute worst nightmare becoming bloody reality 51 blocks downtown.
Dozens of cops responded to the scene—the Valle case forgotten as just some sick and bizarre aberration where nobody actually got hurt. The nanny in the kids’ killing was arrested for murder and taken to an East Side hospital, where she was listed in critical but stable condition.
In the account pieced together by detectives, the mother had come home with her 3-year-old to find the apartment dark. She returned to the lobby, and asked the doorman if he had seen the nanny and her other children. He said he had not, and she returned to the apartment.
Then came the moment when she flicked on the light in the bathroom.
And then came the screams in a New York gone mad.