Police: Miguel Cotto held girlfriend, Liza Alvarado, prisoner for hours in Bethlehem apartment

Posted: 2:59 PM EDT Oct 23, 2012   Updated: 5:57 AM EDT Oct 24, 2012

A man who held his girlfriend prisoner in their apartment as she made plans to leave him was taken into custody after trying to elude police by jumping from one third-floor apartment into another, officials said.

Miguel Cotto kept Liza Alvarado from leaving their apartment at 81 West Garrison St., Bethlehem, for several hours on Monday night and then tried to flee from police by going out a rear third-floor window and trying to break into an adjoining third-floor apartment using a rock, officials said.

Cotto caused $200 in damage to the other apartment by breaking a window and damaging a set of blinds, they added.

Officers were called to Alvarado's apartment by a friend of Alvarado's at 9 p.m., about a half-hour after the friend received a text from Alverado saying "Call police," officials said.

Police could hear whispering inside the apartment, but were unable to contact the landlord, so they left, officials said.

The friend contacted police again at 10:30 p.m., telling them that Cotto has been violent with Alvarado several times in the past, and that Alvarado was in the process of leaving Cotto, officials said.

With the help of a maintenance man, police were able to get into the apartment, where they foundĀ  Alvarado shaking and crying, officials said, adding that Alvarado said Cotto had choked her to keep her from leaving.

Cotto also forced Alvarado to sit at her computer and use her credit card to buy tickets to Florida, where her mother lives, because Cotto told her that she needed to leave the state if she wasn't going to be with him, officials said.

Alvarado said she managed to text her friend by hiding her cell phone while she was using the bathroom and Cotto was standing by the open door, officials said.

Cotto, 35, was arraigned early Tuesday morning on charges including assault, false imprisonment, criminal damage and criminal trespass and committed to the Northampton County Prison on $25,000 bail, according to court documents.

A preliminary hearing is set for 1 p.m. Oct. 23.