Since the news of her alleged kidnapping broke, people have been riveted by the story of 20-year-old British model Chloe Ayling.
On July 10, she arrived in Milan, Italy after being contracted to take part in a photo shoot. Instead, she says she was drugged by two men, stuffed inside a suitcase, and held hostage in the village of Turin for the next 10 days.
Her captor, a Polish-born resident of Birmingham, England named Lukasz Herba, claimed to work for a shadowy outfit that specialized in human trafficking. She was to be auctioned off online to the highest bidder, most probably ending up in the Middle East. If she tried to escape, she would be killed. After being sold, she would live out the rest of her life as a sex-slave until her owner tired of her and fed her to his tigers.
Instead, her captor became smitten with her, showering her with gifts and eventually driving her to the British consulate in Milan, where he let her go, which resulted in his arrest. He later told police his “bosses” ordered Ayling’s release after learning she was a mother, which went against their code of honor.
As police spoke to both the kidnapper and victim, more strange details emerged, which continue to confound investigators as they try to get to the bottom of the case.
1. Her kidnapper claimed to be a member of the mysterious "Black Death" group.
Lukasz Herba claimed to be working for an enigmatic organization called the "Black Death." They are rumored to be involved in human-trafficking, as well as illegal weapons and drug sales on the unrestricted “Dark Web.” Rumors of the group’s existence go back to a 2015 investigation of human trafficking for the website Motherboard, though the kidnapping of Chloe Ayling is the first actual crime directly attributed to the group.
At the time of his arrest, police found pamphlets attributed to the group among Herba’s possesions, though they have yet to be authenticated.
2. Chloe Ayling says she previously survived a terrorist attack.
On April 20 of this year, Ayling was in Paris for a photo shoot where she claimed to have witnessed ISIS terrorist Karim Cheurfi’s shooting rampage on the Champs-Élysées, which resulted in the deaths of three French police officers and a German tourist.
A one-time topless “Page 3” model for British tabloid The Daily Star, Ayling’s agent at the time, Phil Green, told the newspaper she saw a commotion and then ran to the safety of her hotel. “She did not know exactly what had happened, until turning on the internet on her phone – there she saw the news about the suspected terrorist attack in the centre of Paris,” he said.
3. She was to be auctioned off on the Dark Web.
The Independent reports an ad was placed on the “Dark Web” advertising Ayling’s sale, which read "Born in the UK; Abducted in Italy; Held in Germany; 19 year old; Caucasian; 34DD-25-35; Beginner model; Starting bid $300,000. Auction takes place 16.7.2017." It reportedly included photos of a drugged Ayling with a card on her stomach offering her “sexual services.”
4. She shared a bed with her captor.
Ayling told police after being drugged and taken to a small town in Turin, Italy, she had been handcuffed to a large wooden bureau. However, over the course of her captivity, Herba took off her handcuffs, and she even slept in the same bed as him.
“From the second night he took the cuffs from my feet, assuring me that sooner or later I’d be freed so I had no need to escape,” she told police in statements obtained by British tabloid The Sun. “From that moment I always slept in his room, sharing the bed. To be clear, he didn’t molest me sexually or ask for sexual favours.”
According to The Sun, however, police found traces of sperm on the bed’s sheets, though Ayling denies having any sexual contact with him.
5. She was to be sold in order to pay for her kidnapper’s cancer treatment.
The BBC reports that in a statement to Italian police, kidnapper Lukasz Herba claimed he only got involved with the Black Death after being diagnosed with leukemia. He claimed the money he made from sex-trafficking women was used to pay for cancer treatments. So far, police have been unable to corroborate his illness.
6. Her kidnapper tried to sell the story of her abduction to a UK tabloid.
According to The Daily Telegraph, Herba emailed The Daily Mirror two days into Ayling’s abduction. The email’s subject read, ‘"British model kidnapped by Russian mafia," and he offered to provide photos of her as well.
Herba later told police it was an attempt to “attract attention.” When asked if she knew he had contacted the paper, Ayling said, “I know nothing about that at all.”
7. She went shopping for shoes and groceries with her captor.
In an interview with the UK’s Daily Mail, a “close friend of Miss Ayling” said that following her abduction the model was taken shoe shopping by her kidnapper. “During the kidnapping Chloe lost her shoes. He took her to buy some new ones during her ordeal,” the source reportedly said.
According to another witness, Ayling was seen buying groceries with Herba. When questioned about these incidents, Ayling reportedly burst into tears. Her lawyer claims Ayling was doing whatever she needed to in order to placate Herba and insure her safety.
8. She claims her Instagram account saved her life.
According to Ayling, the thugs who abducted her have a strict policy against kidnapping women with children. In an interview with Italian newspaper Corriere Della Sera, she said, “I shouldn't have been caught, as their boss had seen some of my Instagram photos where it was clear that I'm a mom with a child, and that's against the organization.”
After seeing the photos, the crime boss allegedly ordered her release.
[Photo: Chloe Ayling’s Instagram]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxgen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.