Police: NJ man locked girlfriend in room for years
The Associated Press
PATERSON, N.J. – Police searching an apartment for drugs found a woman they believe was kept padlocked in a bedroom for long periods of time over the last several years , perhaps as long as a decade.
State police said members of their street gang unit discovered the 44-year-old woman on Thursday as they searched the Paterson home of 42-year-old Michael Mendez, believed to be a member of the Latin Kings street gang.
Based on interviews and evidence, state police spokesman acting Sgt. 1st Class Brian Polite said investigators believe the woman was kept in the bedroom for extended periods of time for the last two years and possibly up to 10 years.
Investigators said the woman was sometimes let out of the room when her boyfriend was home.
One neighbor in the complex of three-story brick buildings said that he has known Mendez for about a dozen years and that Mendez was a familiar face around the complex and often could be seen outside, polishing a car and listening to music.
The neighbor said he saw the woman a few times in recent years, though it was rare. The man, who refused to give his name because of worries over safety, said he remembered seeing the woman get into a car sometime in the last few years.
A maintenance worker, who also declined to give his name because of concerns over his safety, remembered the woman “cussing me out one time when I was doing my work.”
Neighbors on either side of Mendez’s top-floor apartment said they weren’t aware that another person lived in the apartment.
“I didn’t see any woman,” said a man who identified himself only as Buddy and opened his door only a few inches as he spoke. “This is the first I’m hearing of it.”
Mendez, who police say is a member of the Latin Kings, was being held Monday at Passaic County Jail. Authorities didn’t know if he had an attorney. No one answered when a reporter knocked on his apartment door Monday.
Mendez was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other counts, including some related to the drugs officials said they were looking for in the first place. State police said they found 4,200 prescription pills valued at $100,000, 190 grams of marijuana valued at nearly $2,000 and nearly $23,000 in cash inside his apartment.
The woman was receiving a medical evaluation Monday.
Protests in Brussels over parole for paedophile serial killer’s accomplice
Families of Marc Dutroux’s victims staging protest over freeing of Michelle Martin.
FAMILIES OF THE victims of Belgian paedophile serial killer Marc Dutroux will stage a fresh protest in Brussels Sunday in their fight to overturn a decision granting his ex-wife and accomplice parole.
Protestors are due to leave from Brussels Nord train station at 2 pm and march to the capital’s courts.
Sunday’s demonstration is the latest in a series of protests following a court ruling earlier this month to free Michelle Martin, who has served 16 years of her 30-year sentence for her involvement in the kidnap, rape and deaths of two young girl victims of Dutroux in the 1990s.
Martin, 52, is due to be released on parole to a convent that has agreed to house her, pending a state appeal.
1 August 2012: Graffiti was sprayed onto the walls of the Poor Clares Monastery in Malonne, Belgium in reaction to the eventual arrival to the monastery of Michelle Martin. In French, it reads ‘No’ and includes the initials M.M. for Michelle Martin. (AP Photo/Virginia Mayo)
Jean-Denis Lejeune, the father of one of Dutroux’s victims who called the protest, will later meet with Belgian Justice Minister Annemie Turtelboom along with the parents of three other victims.
The march will have echoes of a similar protest over the case 16 years ago known as the White March.
In October 1996, 300,000 people wearing white marched after Dutroux’s arrest to demand reforms of Belgium’s police and justice systems and better protection for children.
People did not have to dress in white on Sunday, but “the watchword is serenity”, said Lejeune.
Dutroux was jailed for life in June 2004 for the kidnap and rape in the 1990s of six young and teenage girls, and the murder of the four of them who died.
Martin, 52, was herself convicted in 2004 for helping Dutroux hold his victims prisoner, and of complicity in the deaths of two of the girls, found starved to death in a locked cellar.
Belgium’s top appeal court is due to decide on August 28 whether to uphold the decision to release Martin.