Cops Find Woman Padlocked Inside, Possible She Was Held Captive For Decade

PATERSON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Police say she was locked up in a bedroom for years.

On Monday, a New Jersey man was accused of holding his girlfriend captive — a prisoner — at home.

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The location was the Riverside Houses in Paterson, where police recently executed a search warrant against an alleged Latin Kings drug dealer, 42-year-old Michael Mendez.

In an unusual twist, when police went into the apartment, they allegedly found something stunning.

WCBS 880’s Jim Smith reports

“Detectives also found a woman, padlocked, inside of a bedroom of the residence,” State Police Sgt. Brian Polite told WCBS 880’s Jim Smith.

Police said it’s possible the woman was kept a captive for as much as a decade.

Some neighbors that 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.

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“I used to see him in the neighborhood. I don’t know about no girlfriend,” another neighbor said.

When the New Jersey State Police Gang Unit executed a search warrant, it 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.

The woman was taken for medical evaluation. Mendez is being held on $1 million bond.

Police did not identify the victim, but did say she is 44 years old.

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