Abduction Charge Against Elderly Man Accused of Kidnapping Wife, Dropped

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A kidnapping charge has been dropped against an 84-year-old man accused of abducting his 81-year-old wife from a Michigan nursing home and moving her to Florida.

Joseph Perez, who turns 85 on Christmas, instead, was charged with the lesser crime of fourth-degree vulnerable adult abuse for taking his wife Helen Perez from the home.

"I'll be very honest with you. If my wife was away from me, I'd be right along with you bringing her back. You still have to follow the law," District Judge Walter Jakubowski Jr. told Perez in court Wednesday.

"I salute you as being a caring husband," the judge said. "If all husbands took care of their wives like that, it would be a better nation."

Macomb County Assistant Prosecutor John Latella had said previously that he had no interest in imprisoning Perez, but that the man did break the law. He had said he was hoping to work out a deal.

The couple moved to Titusville, Florida, 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 a year later after they filed a Medicaid claim.

He was brought back to Michigan and arraigned about two weeks ago and jailed on $100,000 bond.

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.