Kidnapped model faced sex-slave threat
LONDON — Chloe Ayling’s ordeal sounds like a tale spawned by nightmares of the evil that lurks online.
The 20-year-old British model says she was lured to Italy with the promise of a photo shoot, then drugged, stuffed into a suitcase, transported to an isolated farmhouse and held, at times in handcuffs, for almost a week.
Ayling has told police the “terrifying experience” ended when her captor, who had threatened to hold her for ransom or advertise her as sex slave on the criminal “dark web,” decided instead to drop her off at the British consulate in Milan.
As made-for-the movies as the young woman’s account sounds, Italian police have arrested a suspect: a 30-year-old Polish man who claimed to be a paid killer for a group called the Black Death.
“It seems incredible,” said lawyer Francesco Pesce — “a man kidnaps, together with others, a girl, and after a week, citing particular reasons, accompanies her inside a consulate ... (and) practically hands her over to police.”
“This at first was doubted also by investigators — but the story later turned out to be true,” he added.
Pesce, Ayling’s agent, and Milan police have all given broadly the same account.
The model — whose career includes topless shoots for British tabloid newspapers — went to Milan on July 11 for a photo shoot at what her agent, Phil Green, said was “a recognized studio in the city centre.”
When she got there, her lawyer said, a man grabbed her by the neck while another injected her with a dose of anesthetic “strong enough to knock her to the ground.”
“Then she was stuffed in a black sports bag, like she was an object, and then transported over winding, unpaved roads for more than two hours ... bound hand and foot and with tape across her mouth,” Pesce said.
Milan police said Ayling was taken to a rural house near Turin in northern Italy, where she was kept handcuffed to a wooden dresser.
They said the suspect in custody, Lukasz Pawel Herba, advertised her “sale” online, while at the same time demanding $300,000 ransom.
Then, Ayling was dropped off at the British consulate in Milan. Police arrested Herba, a Polish citizen with British residency.