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Michael Mendez, NJ man, kept woman locked in bedroom for years, police say

Booking photo of Michael Mendez. A state police gang unit said they found Mendez's 44-year-old girlfriend who may have been padlocked in the bedroom of her boyfriend's New Jersey apartment for long periods of time over the span of years AP Photo/New Jersey State Police

(CBS/AP) 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.

The 44-year-old woman was discovered on Thursday by members of the state police street gang unit as they searched the Paterson home of 42-year-old Michael Mendez, believed to be a member of the Latin Kings street gang.

Mendez is now in Passaic County Jail while the 44-year-old woman was received a medical evacuation Monday.

Spokesman acting Sgt. 1st Class Brian Polite said based on interviews and evidence, 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. Neighbors on either side of Mendez's top-floor apartment told The Associated Press they weren't aware that another person lived in the apartment.

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.

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