SALEM — Her parents knew something was wrong when they would get responses to their text messages that didn’t sound like their daughter.
But for months, the 27-year-old Gloucester woman insisted that things were fine with her new boyfriend, with whom she was now living in Salem.
Then, last month, she returned home, with just the clothing on her back and disfiguring injuries that made her almost unrecognizable and in need of reconstructive surgery.
The man who did that to her, police say, is Joseph Louf, 37, of 171 North St., Salem, the owner of the American Total Defense mixed martial arts gym in Beverly.
Louf was arrested Friday and held in custody over the weekend. He was arraigned yesterday in Salem District Court on charges that include attempted murder and aggravated assault and battery. He pleaded not guilty to the charges.
He will be back in court today for a hearing to determine whether he poses too great a danger to the woman or others if released. In the meantime, Judge Matthew Machera ordered that he remain in custody.
The charges stem from an investigation that started last fall, when the young woman’s parents went to police with their concerns. They had learned from a relative about Louf’s “controlling and violent past,” prosecutor Lindsay Shaheen told the judge yesterday. They were also concerned about the lack of contact they had with their daughter.
A few months later, Salem police Detective Kathleen Rocheville got another call, telling her that the young woman had returned home about a week earlier, on Jan. 7. She had told them little, other than that she was “lucky to be alive.”
The young woman, once a nursing assistant at Beverly Hospital, was suffering from two detatched retinas.
Her face, Rocheville noted in her report, “has been completely transformed.”