After six days of imprisonment, a 20-year-old British model managed to talk her way to freedom. After the model, Chloe Ayling, arrived in Milan for a photoshoot, two men kidnapped her and held her hostage at a secure location.
According to an announcement from the Polizia di Stato, Ayling’s kidnappers had planned to sell her through a controversial darknet auction site.
The announcement, however, added that Investigators in Milan, the Postal Police Department of Lombardy, and Polish law enforcement had not verified the story or the existence of the darknet site “Black Death.” And now, only days after the news broke, suspicion has fallen on the young girl—not necessarily from law enforcement, but from from journalists and darknet researchers. Black Death, the darknet auction site, made the news right two years ago when Motherboard published a piece that covered the site. The darknet market or community allegedly enabled global human trafficking and organized crime hits.
Soon after Motherboard published the piece, a Twitter user noticed an inconsistency: the site’s centerpiece auction—a listing that featured a female with a starting price of $150,000—had used screenshots of a pornography actor. Authority figures of anti-human trafficking websites called the “Black Death” market a “scam.” The site quickly became no more than an urban legend, Besa Mafia style.
Then, in early August, the site’s name had spread across the internet once again. From the Chloe Ayling narrative and news released following that story, the events began on July 10. However, media outlets received a warning the day prior. One even earlier date stood out. Far before any of the kidnapping news hit, but certainly not far-out enough to be excluded completely.
April 19-20: Chloe Ayling met with the kidnapper for a photoshoot in Paris, France. Coincidentally, the day of the shoot was the same day of the terror attacks in Paris; Ayling left Paris. Her agency told her that she would be posing for a motorcycle company of some sort. Although that photoshoot was called off, a certain sport bike magazine has a picture of her from this year. The second and final meeting between the two—the kidnapping in Milan—was for the kidnapper’s fake company called “Bessis Mafique Studio.” Ayling said that he created a website for the company, but Italian police reported an inability to find it anywhere online.
July 9: An alleged kidnapper emailed The Daily Mirror a tip with the subject line “British Model Kidnapped by Russian Mafia.”
July 10: The 20-year-old, an Instagram model and Page 3 feature, flew to Milan for a photoshoot. Chloe Ayling’s agent reportedly arranged the shoot with a man Ayling had met one month prior to the engagement. In later interviews, the model said the job looked authentic.
July 11: Two men kidnapped the model. One of the men Ayling had met, wearing a balaclava, injected Ayling with ketamine and stuffed her inside of a travel bag. The men then stuffed the bag into the trunk of a vehicle. They drove her to a farmhouse roughly 120 miles from Milan. She told police the kidnapping involved five men.
She told the Daily Telegraph:
“A second person wearing a black balaclava gave me an injection in my right forearm. I think I lost consciousness. When I woke up I was wearing a pink bodysuit and the socks I am wearing now. I realised I was in the boot of a car with my wrists and ankles handcuffed, adhesive tape on my mouth. I was inside a bag and was only able to breathe through a small hole.”
The men, Ayling told police, tied her to a dresser. Her kidnappers claimed to be members of the Black Death auction site and, unless her agent handed over $300,000, they were prepared to sell her to buyers in the Middle East. Her “five” captors never sexually assaulted her, she said. Italian police are investigating only two suspects, in seeming contradiction to Ayling’s claims.
July 12: After only spending one night with her captor(s), she started sharing a bed with one of the men. Again, no sexual assault took place, according to the victim. No sexual activity of any kind transpired, she added:
_“I slept in his room sharing his double bed. He never sexually molested me or requested sexual relations. The ‘Black Death’ organization prohibits it and severely punishes its members who touch kidnapped girls destined for sale at auctio_n.”
July 12 – July 16: The majority of the questionable content occurred ridiculously this period of time, save for July 17.
- Ayling claimed she convinced the main(?) kidnapper that the two could have a relationship if he allowed her to escape.
- She allegedly lost a shoe—a fact that only surfaced once a shopkeeper recognized the kidnapper’s picture. The kidnapper, according to the British model, took her to buy shoes to replace the shoe that she had apparently lost while tied to a dresser.
- They went grocery shopping. Ayling said that she knew the kidnapper would eventually release her but played along because the Black Death “group” had killers everywhere. (She only referred a single kidnapper at this point).
- Although being an apparently well-planned operation that involved months of planning, the kidnapper only then discovered Ayling had a child.
- Despite a vast majority of of topless modeling photos, her public Instagram profile displays her child in numerous uploads.
- Her Facebook, also public, has pictures from before, after, and during her pregnancy.
“You have a two-year-old child and our rules exclude mothers,” the kidnapper told Ayling.
July 17: Ms. Ayling convinced the kidnapper to let her escape. Questions arose after information of the arrest of “the” kidnapper surfaced. He allowed her to go to the UK consulate in Milan. He turned himself in alongside her, resulting in his immediate arrest.
The Telegraph wrote that the two were getting breakfast in town when they arrived at the consulate.
Police questioned both parties. Ayling told a story that the narrative above was derived from. Police identified the kidnapper as a 30-year-old Polish man named Lukasz Pawel Herba. He admitted to kidnapping the model for ransom or sale on the darknet. He also planned to auction her on the Black Death site, according to statements from Herba and Ayling. Additionally, he distributed “business cards with the text “permanent solution” on one side and “Contact via Deep Web” on the other.
Police searched Herba’s computer and found that he had contacted other alleged kidnappers. Authorities also located a letter from Black Death administration that said the following:
“You are being released as a huge generosity from Black Death Group. Your release does, however, come with a warning and you should read this letter very carefully. You are certainly aware of your value on human slavery market (sic) and must make a note that this isn’t personal, this is business. For your release we have taken a number of factors into consideration. A mistake was made by capturing you, especially considering you are a young mother that should have in no circumstances be lured into kidnapping. Second important factor (sic) you are very well aware of is your overall protection by one of our main and very well respected men who made a very clear and solid stance in your case.”
“You will, upon your landing in your home country cease any investigation activities related to your kidnapping. You also agreed to sneak a pre-determined set of information in to the media and we will expect to see evidence that has been done in the near future. You and your family will, in no way ever talk about us in bad language and without respect. You have been treated fairly, with respect and we expect to hear exactly the same about us in return. You can release any information you have heard from MO while your (sic) holding as he would never give you any information that could harm our activities. We will not tolerate lying about anything that has happened. You have also agreed to pay outstanding costs of your release of $50,000. We expect that money to be paid in BitCoins within one month.”
“Any sort of disobedience with the above will result in your elimination.”
August 4: Chloe Ayling finally surfaced. Italian police “detained” her until she testified at a preliminary hearing on August 4. Even her lawyer said the police had “more than understandable doubts” when questioned on the many abnormalities.
According to the Polizia di Stato, “investigators have found out that the Polish citizen had already organized several online auctions for the sale of abducted girls, through advertisements describing the “prey” and setting the starting figure, although it has not yet been established whether the previous episodes the man had really kidnapped his victims or had invented everything.”
August 5: Lorenzo Bucossi, a law enforcement officer in Milan, said Herba claimed to have been contract killer for a mercenary group. The kidnapper’s claims were effectively discredited. The kidnapping, though, happened, according to the police. Paolo Storari, a Deputy Public Prosecutor in Milan, said, “fantasist or not, what is clear is that he is a very dangerous man who drugged his victim as soon as she was kidnapped and put her inside a large travel bag in the boot of a car.” Furthermore, “his version of events is barely credible but clearly he does not deny that he was with her for the time she was missing.”
Italian law enforcement accept that Ayling had Ketamine in her system and that Herba, working with one accomplice, kidnapped the model. Ketamine is detectable within 4 days of bodily introduction, according to a study conducted for government agencies. Norketamine, a ketamine metabolite, was detected in monkey blood nearly a month after ingestion.
However, norketamine tests seem unavailable outside of research laboratories. Not all corporate GCMS drug testing companies even offer ketamine detection. It remains unclear whether or not the police are simply accepting that part of her story or if they used a drug test. “Further investigations are ongoing in order to identify potential accomplices,” the police wrote. They also indicated the possibility that the kidnappers might have intended to let Ayling go regardless of the outcome. If so, the entire situation was no more than an attempt to commit $300,000 worth of fraud.
Also read: Victim Rescued in Brazil’s First Bitcoin Ransom Kidnapping Plot
As of August 8, Herba claimed that he had kidnapped her; that he was a hired killer; that he operated (was not a mere user) of the Black Death website, to some capacity; that he was not a killer and “the Romanians” forced him to kidnap her; that “the Romanians” paid him $500,000 to kidnap her; that he kidnapped her to pay for his leukemia treatment; that he rescued her after seeing her pictures online; and that he joined the group and earned their trust to save her. Also, he had a pet rat that left his house both with him and on him—as in it at on his shoulder. Of all the mental images he left his neighbors with, the rat stood out the most.