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Nancy Duran, NJ woman, denies man locked her in room for years

Undated photo of Michael Mendez. A state police gang unit was searching Mendez's apartment for drugs when detectives found Mendez's 44-year-old girlfriend in a locked bedroom AP Photo/New Jersey State Police

(CBS/AP) PATERSON, N.J. - Nancy Rodriguez Duran, the woman found behind a padlocked door inside her boyfriend's apartment, said the kidnapping case against Michael Mendez is a lie and he is "a good man" who never abused her.

Duran, 44, spoke to reporters before Mendez appeared in court Tuesday and said that she asked her boyfriend to padlock the bedroom door with her inside. She said Mendez was going out last Thursday and she was worried about maintenance workers coming into their Paterson apartment and seeing her in a nightgown.

A state police street gang unit searched the apartment for drugs that Thursday and found Duran in the locked bedroom. Based on interviews and evidence, investigators believed she was kept in the room for extended periods of time for up to 10 years, state police spokesman acting Sgt. 1st Class Brian Polite said.

Mendez, who police say is a member of the Latin Kings street gang, was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and other counts, including some drug-related counts. 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 the apartment.

Mendez, 42, pleaded not guilty Tuesday and remains held on $1 million bail.

More on Crimesider
Aug. 14, 2012 - Michael Mendez, NJ man, kept woman locked in bedroom for years, police say

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