Puerto Rican boxer Felix Verdejo, who poses before a fight in 2016, is believed to have slapped his 27-year-old lover in the face, drugged her, and then held her arms and legs before shooting her and tossing her into a river. Bebeto Matthews / AP Hide caption
Bebeto Matthews / AP
Bebeto Matthews / AP
Editor’s note: This story contains graphic descriptions of physical violence.
A former Olympic boxer was arrested Sunday in Puerto Rico for kidnapping and murdering a woman who was pregnant with his child. The violence against women on the island, which sparked a state of emergency, has increased worryingly and persistently.
Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez, also known as “”El Diamante “or” The Diamond “appeared in court on Monday morning, where he was instructed by the judge held without bail. He reported on Sunday after officials announced they had identified the body of the woman believed to be his girlfriend.
Officials say they discovered the missing body of Keishla Marlen Rodriguez on Saturday and, according to a forensic report published on Sunday.
Sanchez, who competed in the London 2012 Olympics, is calculated Kidnapping leads to death, carjacking leads to death, and deliberate killing of an unborn child. Any charge carries a life sentence or the death penalty. The FBI complaint states that a witness, whose name has not been released, has “first hand” knowledge of Rodriguez’s disappearance and is working with the agency.
FBI special agent Lorenzo Vilanova Perez captured the gory details of the alleged kidnapping and killing in an affidavit filed in court on Monday. According to the agent, Verdejo contacted the nameless witness on April 27 to ask for help in terminating Rodriguez’s pregnancy, which she confirmed after a pregnancy test. Two days later, Verdejo made plans to meet Rodriguez near her home. “Verdejo and the witness drove to the meeting in the black Dodge Durango SUV.” The federal document adds that Rodriguez drove himself to meet Verdejo in a gray Kia Forte and then got in his vehicle.
After a conversation between the two, Verdejo allegedly slapped the pregnant woman in the face and injected her with “a syringe of purchased substances” in San Juan. With the help of the witness, Verdejo is supposed to held the woman’s arms and feet with wire and tied a block to her body. According to the affidavit Verdejo and the witness then drove the two cars to the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge in Puerto Rico’s capital, San Juan, where they threw Rodriguez into the water. “Verdejo shot the victim with a pistol from the bridge,” the affidavit said.
On April 30, Puerto Rican police discovered Rodriguez’s abandoned Kia through cell phone recordings and surveillance footage from the bridge. The police also found at least one cartridge case on the bridge. It was the day after her family reported her missing.
The 27-year-old boxer has been married to a woman named Eliz Marie Santiago Sierra for about eight years, and the two of them reportedly have a child named Miranda Postings on Verdejo’s Instagram account. He had hoped to stage a career Comeback but lost his last fight with Masayoshi Nakatani in Las Vegas in December.
The new day reported: “His wife, Eliz Santiago Sierra, was also interviewed and confirmed to the authorities that she knew that Verdejo and Rodríguez Ortiz knew each other and were in a relationship.”
Keila Ortiz, the victim’s mother, who knew of Rodriguez’s pregnancy, immediately suspected Verdejo and urged authorities to investigate his whereabouts after the 27-year-old woman disappeared on April 29.
Keishla Rodriguez’s mother, Keila Ortiz, calls for justice after boxer Felix Verdejo was arrested in connection with the death of her 27-year-old pregnant daughter, whose body was found in a lagoon outside the FBI headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico was on Sunday. Carlos Giusti / AP Hide caption
Carlos Giusti / AP
Carlos Giusti / AP
She called him a murderer and told Reporter: “He’s not the diamond. The diamond was my daughter!”
Ortiz urged officials to find justice for Rodriguez and her unborn grandson, as well as any other women in Puerto Rico who are brutalized by men.
In one of his first business assignments in January, the new governor of Puerto Rico, Pedro Pierluisi, declared a state of emergency about an increasing tide of violence against women. The executive order has been welcomed by advocates who for years have called for sweeping action to tackle sex abuse and femicides. The order gives Pierluisi extensive powers to implement measures in all government agencies aimed at preventing and responding to violence against women.
The emergency declaration was triggered by another murder: the murder of Angie Noemi González Santos, a nurse from the mountain town of Barranquitas. The mother of three was found dead in a ravine and her partner 16 years later confessed to crime. González’s death outraged communities across the island and again called for changes in the criminal justice system to bring the perpetrators to justice.