The British model who says she was kidnapped in Italy by a gang called Black Death who planned to sell her as a sex slave in the Middle East says doubts over her account of events have been “frustrating and hurtful.”
Chloe Ayling, 20, told Italian police she was attacked by two men as she attended a photoshoot on the outskirts of the city in July. She says she was drugged and transported in a bag to Borgial, an isolated village near Turin.
Lukasz Pawl Herba, 30, a Polish national who lives in Britain, has been charged with kidnapping and extortion. He reportedly told investigators that he planned to sell Ayling as a sex slave on the dark web for £270,000 ($350,000) before he realized she had a two-year-old child.
In an interview with the Mail on Sunday, Ayling recalled the details of her capture and hit back at those who doubt her story.
“I feel so happy to be home but I still feel wary. In the back of my mind, part of me is still worried that maybe Black Death is real and they will come after me.”
She added that she “understands why people have questions” about her ordeal.
“People need to understand that everything I did was so I could survive. I was in a crazy situation and I was terrified. It has been so frustrating and hurtful to have people not believe me.
“I know the truth, my family knows the truth, and it will all come out at the trial.”
She added: “This experience has taught me what is really important in life. I am so happy to finally be home. People were criticizing me for smiling when I was photographed back home – but why wouldn’t I smile? I survived.”
Ayling told the tabloid she was injected with the horse tranquillizer ketamine before waking up in a car boot, wearing only her underwear, with tape over her mouth and hands and feet bound.
She said Herba told her he had made a mistake and that the criminal gang he worked for had a policy not to sell mothers as sex slaves.
“He told me he was an assassin for [a gang called] Black Death and showed me two knives.
“He said his favorite method of murder was poison. He was talking so casually, it was terrifying. He said that he had worked for Black Death for five years and had earned £11.5 million.”
After five days in the house, Ayling, from south London, was taken to a camping shop by her captor to buy trainers and fruit.
“He said I would be crazy to try and escape now, because I would be instantly killed.
“He said we were no longer in Italy, somewhere very remote, and that Black Death agents were nearby.”
As well as sending ransom emails to Ayling’s agent and three of her wealthy contacts, it emerged that Herba also emailed three British media organizations informing them of Chloe’s kidnapping and imminent auction.
Cosmo De Rose, the solicitor acting for Herba, said his client had not made any statement implicating Ayling in the kidnapping.
When asked if Ayling had taken part in a conspiracy, he said: “No. This has not emerged. Absolutely not. No, no, no.”
A source close to the prosecutor’s office in Milan told the Mirror that investigations are ongoing but Ayling’s story was “credible.”