WARREN, Mich. – An 84-year-old man who took his 81-year-old wife from a Michigan nursing home and moved her to Florida has been charged with kidnapping her.
Judge John Chmura of 37th District Court in Warren on Monday reduced the bond for Joseph Perez from $100,000 to a personal bond, and he was released from the Macomb County Jail. He had been held since being charged last week with kidnapping his wife Helen.
Kidnapping carries a possible sentence of life in prison, but a prosecutor suggested that the charge may not stand.
"Let's put it this way: Everybody's going to have a merry Christmas," Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor John Latella told The Detroit News. A preliminary examination is scheduled Wednesday.
The couple moved to Titusville, Fla., in November 2005, after Joseph Perez took his wife from the Murray Nursing Center in Center Line, saying she had a dentist's appointment. Authorities found them after they filed a Medicaid claim.
Helen Perez had a stroke in 1994, and her husband cared for her in their Warren home until she hurt a finger in October 2005. Authorities said the injury was a sign of possible abuse and said Joseph Perez was not properly caring for her.
Helen Perez hated the nursing home, a granddaughter said.
"She was begging to get out," Bethany Scribner said. "My grandfather tried to make it as comfortable for her as possible. Every week he'd pay for a hairdresser to come to the nursing home and do her hair. But she wanted out so they cooked up this scheme to spring her from the nursing home and move to Florida."
A man who served as her guardian questioned her husband's actions and intentions.
"This is a woman who couldn't speak. She had a heart condition," George Heitmanis told the Detroit Free Press. "Joseph Perez took her out on a day pass and never returned. He did not take her medication."