MINEOLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — A suspect from Staten Island with a string of prior arrests has been charged in a frightening case of unlawful imprisonment.

Police say the suspect held a woman against her will, while attempting to extort money from her mother on Long Island.

New Hyde Park neighbors of the 35-year-old victim and her 62-year-old mother were stunned that a stranger could pull off such a nightmarish crime — a crime allegedly committed by Rudy Santana.

The female victim was located and rescued from a third-floor apartment at a Staten Island building following a 36-hour ordeal, which included being held against her will after a party broke up.

Police said Santana threatened to kill the woman if she didn’t come up with cash to repay him for the partying. Fearing for her life, she phoned her mother in New Hyde Park.

The victim’s mother wired $100 to Staten Island, but the suspect apparently wasn’t satisfied and demanded $100 more. The frantic mother complied, before Santana allegedly upped the amount to $2,000.

“If you don’t give it to me, he threatens to strangle her. With that, she calls mom back — now she’s very agitated, she’s very concerned and mom is very alarmed at what is going on — and she tells mom ‘I’m being held against my will and I now need $2,000,'” Detective Lt. Raymond Cote said.

With that, the alleged victim’s mother marched into police headquarters and Nassau detectives along with the NYPD, who were skeptical at first, soon verified the case was legitimate. They said they sprang into action, safely rescuing the terrorized victim and arresting Santana on extortion charges.

“I’m speechless. I don’t understand how someone could do this. I feel for that woman,” said one neighbor.

“You hope your adrenaline is going to kick in and you’re going to be wise,” said another.

District attorneys from Nassau County and New York City are now convening to determine if charges will be upgraded to include to kidnapping and unlawful imprisonment.

Santana told a judge he is not guilty, but remains jailed and is being held on $100,000 bond.

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