Police may be getting closer to arresting an accomplice of the man accused of kidnapping a Kenner woman and holding her prisoner inside a New Orleans apartment earlier this month.
Mario Perez Roque, 56, has refused to cooperate with investigators or provide any information about the younger man police believe helped him abduct a 36-year-old Guatemala native as she left her Kenner apartment the morning of Nov. 6, according to Lt. Brian McGregor, a Kenner Police Department spokesman.
But Gary Messina, a passing motorist who helped the woman escape, said the New Orleans Police Department recently asked him and his wife to review photo lineups. In an email, he said one array of pictures had a shot of Perez and another contained photos of possible younger suspects.
Police say they also are looking into whether text messages from a phone that Perez was using were sent to the still-unidentified accomplice.
Perez was arrested in Metairie on Nov. 7. In his apartment in the 100 block of North Lopez Street, police said they found two-way mirrors, false walls, trap doors, a chair with restraints and hidden cameras. McGregor called it a “house of horrors.”
Testimony this week threw more light on what investigators have turned up in the case so far.
Kenner police Detective Bryan Weiter testified that Perez called the kidnapping victim, who apparently had spurned his romantic overtures, 116 times during the month before the alleged abduction; 39 of those calls were answered, McGregor said.
The calls began sometime in October after Perez briefly held the woman against her will at his Mid-City apartment, McGregor said. Having gone to the apartment believing they would just check out Perez’s new large soaking tub, she managed to run away on that occasion after asking if she could step outside for air, McGregor said.
The woman didn’t tell authorities about any of that until after the second incident.
Weiter testified that police also found photos on Perez’s cellphone of the outside of the woman’s apartment, other adjacent buildings and a nearby intersection.
The phone also contained photos of other women, and police believe they may have been taken inside Perez’s bathroom because investigators discovered pinhole spy cameras set up behind a mirror and an electric outlet cover.
For now, Perez has been ordered held without bail by Commissioner Paul Schneider, of 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
In an interview recently, Perez’s brother, Tony Perez, said Mario Perez and the woman had dated before the alleged kidnapping, a claim she has denied. Tony Perez also said his brother — who has prior convictions stemming from violent incidents in New Jersey in 1985 and Kenner two decades later — has long struggled with mental health problems, even before they both moved from Cuba to the United States during the Mariel boatlift in 1980.
Staff writers Chad Calder and Matt Sledge contributed to this report.