PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A New Jersey woman who police say was held captive for years says it’s all a lie.
Nancy Rodriguez Duran says her boyfriend is “a good man” who has never abused her.
Speaking to reporters before 42-year-old Michael Mendez appeared in court Tuesday, Duran said she asked him to padlock the bedroom door with her inside.
Duran said her boyfriend was going out and she was worried about maintenance workers coming into their Paterson, N.J., apartment and seeing her in a nightgown.
Mendez pleaded not guilty to kidnapping and drug charges Tuesday and remains held on $1 million bail.
Police believe Mendez is an alleged drug dealer for the Latin Kings gang. While executing a search warrant for drugs in his apartment, they made a stunning discovery.
“Detectives also found a woman, padlocked, inside of a bedroom of the residence,” State Police Sgt. Brian Polite told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith Monday.
Investigators believe Duran was kept in the bedroom for extended periods of time for possibly up to 10 years.
Some neighbors who spoke to CBS 2’s John Slattery said this was the first they were hearing of a girlfriend.
“No, I never see his girlfriend. No. Just saw him all the time,” neighbor Juancina Benjamin said.
“I used to see him in the neighborhood. I don’t know about no girlfriend,” another neighbor said.
The New Jersey State Police Gang Unit allegedly recovered more than $100,000 in prescription drugs, along with a quantity of marijuana and $22,000 in cash. Drugs may be one thing, but some nearby residents who know Mendez, said it’s farfetched that the woman was being held against her will.
“He was a good person, very good person. I don’t think it’s true. No, I don’t,” one neighbor said.
“I always see him and his girlfriend. I see them two days before the incident happened, always with him,” Stephanie Ramos added.
Police based the charges on testimony from the woman and evidence at the scene, possibly from a journal she kept.
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