Mario Perez Roque pleaded not guilty Friday to kidnapping a co-worker from her Kenner apartment in November and taking her to a New Orleans home outfitted with peepholes and trap doors.
The 36-year-old woman, who has not been publicly identified, escaped her bonds and fled the home on North Lopez Street, which authorities described as a “house of horrors” because of its suspicious features.
Perez, 59, pleaded not guilty to second-degree kidnapping and conspiracy to commit second-degree kidnapping before Commissioner Paul Schneider in 24th Judicial District Court in Gretna.
The case will be heard by Judge Danyelle Taylor. A hearing has been set for March.
The woman said Perez had tricked her into visiting the house once before and wouldn’t let her leave, forcing her to sneak away after almost a full day there.
On the day of her abduction, she managed to get her blindfold off, only to discover a poster-sized photograph of herself affixed to the wall. She fled, leaving her purse and cellphone in the house. They were later recovered by the police.
Investigators have said a second man helped Perez with the kidnapping.
Eric Mendoza was arrested while he was driving Perez’s vehicle shortly after Perez was arrested. Police said Mendoza had a handgun in his back pocket when he was detained. They have not said whether Mendoza, who is in federal custody on charges of immigration and firearms violations, is a suspect in the kidnapping case.
Follow Chad Calder on Twitter, @Chad_Calder.