Jefferson Parish prosecutors have filed charges against a man arrested more than two months ago on accusations that he and an accomplice kidnapped a woman in Kenner and took her to a New Orleans house police said had trap doors, a chair with restraints, hidden cameras and other strange features.
Mario Perez Roque, who turns 57 later this month, was charged with second-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping in a bill of information that District Attorney Paul Connick’s office filed Friday.
Meanwhile, Perez’s public defender, Lydia Casiano, filed a motion Friday arguing that her client should be released from jail without bail pending trial because he had been in custody since Nov. 7 — or more than 60 days — without being charged, which she said violated his right to a speedy prosecution.
Perez’s case was allotted to 24th Judicial District Court Judge Danyelle Taylor. A hearing on the motion asking for his release is tentatively scheduled for Monday, court records showed.
Authorities allege that Perez and a second man abducted a 36-year-old woman outside her Kenner apartment Nov. 6 at gunpoint, blindfolded her and then strapped her into a chair in a home in the 100 block of North Lopez Street in Mid-City New Orleans.
Aside from the chair, trap doors and hidden cameras, investigators said they found two-way mirrors and false walls in the house, prompting one law enforcement official to call it “a house of horrors.”
Police allege that Perez carried out the kidnapping after the woman — a co-worker — spurned his romantic advances. She ultimately managed to slip out of her restraints and escape from the home, leading to her rescue by passers-by, police said.
Perez was arrested in Metairie the following day and jailed. Hours after his capture, officers detained another man who was driving Perez’s vehicle in Terrytown and had a handgun in his back pocket, police said.
That man was questioned about the woman’s kidnapping, but he was not booked in connection with it because she was unable to identify him as Perez’s accomplice, police said. Authorities nonetheless jailed him on immigration and weapons charges.
A judge later ordered Perez held without bail after prosecutors presented cellphone evidence that apparently placed him at the intersection where the victim lived at the time of the abduction.
Police suspect that Perez had held the woman against her will at his New Orleans home on one other occasion. But he apparently had not been charged with any crimes in New Orleans as of Friday.
Neither the Jefferson District Attorney’s Office nor Casiano responded to requests for comment Friday.
If Perez is convicted of second-degree kidnapping, he could face between five and 40 years in prison.
Perez, who moved to the United States from Cuba during the so-called Mariel boatlift in 1980, has prior convictions stemming from violent incidents in 1985 and Kenner two decades later.
In a recent interview, Perez’s brother, Tony Perez, said Mario Perez and the woman had a complicated relationship and had dated before the alleged kidnapping, a claim she has denied. Tony Perez also said Mario Perez has long struggled with mental health problems.