Authorities have arrested a 56-year-old New Orleans man and uncovered what some are calling a “house of horrors” in his apartment, after a good Samaritan rescued a terrified woman on a city street.
Gary Messina was in his car with his wife and son when he saw the woman running down a busy street Nov. 6 with a man chasing her, WWL-TV reports.
“I didn't know for sure until he grabbed her and turned around and I saw the look on her face,” he said.
“I just jumped out of the car to try to stop the guy from pulling her back,” he added. “As soon as I jumped out of the car he looked at me and he had her around the neck in a headlock and just wasn't going to let her go.”
Messina said he scared the man off by saying police were on the way.
The woman, 36, has not been identified, but authorities now say they believe she was kidnapped from her apartment in the suburb of Kenner and taken to the New Orleans home of 56-year-old Mario Perez-Roque.
U.S. marshals arrested Perez-Roque Saturday on suspicion of kidnapping.
Kenner police Lt. Brian McGregor described Perez-Roque’s apartment as a “house of horrors,” reports The New Orleans Advocate.
“That’s pretty much what it is,” McGregor said. “Who wants to be restrained? Who wants to be tied up in somebody's else’s house?"
An unnamed source who spoke with The New Orleans Times-Picayune said Perez-Roque’s home appeared to be equipped with hidden compartments, false doors and two way mirrors that concealed cameras. Investigators also reportedly found what the source said appeared to be a hidden insulated chamber equipped with restraints.
Authorities believe the woman and Perez-Roque were co-workers, and that she had turned down his romantic advances, according to The Advocate. She reportedly told investigators she was kidnapped from her home by two men on Nov. 6.
New Orleans police spokesman Juan Barnes said she was eventually tied to a chair inside Perez-Roque’s apartment and with a bag placed over her head. She said she was able to free herself from the restraints and escape.
Authorities told The Advocate they are still searching for a second man who has not yet been identified.
Perez-Roque is held without bond, facing charges of false imprisonment and simple kidnapping, reports The Times-Picayune.