Felix Verdejo, a former Olympic boxer from Puerto Rico, was accused on Monday of murdering his lover and their unborn child, in a case that has sparked protests in the US territory against violence against women. Verdejo was charged with three counts of kidnapping and murdering Keishla Rodriguez, who was pregnant at the time, during a virtual hearing in federal court in San Juan.
Ex-Olympic boxer charged with killing pregnant lover
On Thursday, April 29, Keishla Rodrguez Ortiz vanished. Her body was discovered under the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge two days later. She was 27 years old and pregnant by Félix Verdejo, a prominent boxer who is now charged with her death. Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects at her funeral home in San Juan, Puerto Rico. Meanwhile, Verdejo and Luis Antonio Cadiz Martinez have been indicted by a federal grand jury. Both were charged with one act of carjacking that resulted in death, one crime of kidnapping that resulted in death, and one case of murder of an unborn child, according to US Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow. Verdejo was also charged with one count of using and carrying a handgun while and in the commission of a violent felony.
According to the criminal complaint, Verdejo Sánchez contacted the witness and asked for assistance in terminating the pregnancy. According to the lawsuit, Verdejo Sánchez and Rodrguez Ortiz met near her home and traveled separately to meet the witness. Rodrguez Ortiz got into Verdejo Sánchez’s automobile when they arrived at the meeting location, according to the report. Verdejo Sánchez hit Rodrguez Ortiz after they had a chat and then injected her with “a syringe packed with narcotics obtained from a drug point in Llorens Torres,” a huge housing project in San Juan, according to the complaint.
Media suspects Verdejo’s Wife to be involved in the murder
As the investigation into the death of Verdejo’s pregnant mistress progressed, social media focused on his wife, Eliz Marie Santiago Sierra’s apparent role in the crime. The autopsy of Rodriguez’s body, which was discovered floating in the lagoon, revealed a fractured jaw, a strong blow to the nose, and evidence of heroin and fentanyl in the system, adding gasoline to the fire. The expecting mother is thought to have been unconscious but still alive when she was pushed over the bridge into the lagoon. Verdejo’s wife and mother were summoned by Federal Court just over two weeks after Rodriguez was discovered. Their counsel, on the other hand, insists that they are not suspects. Later, Verdejo Sánchez surrendered to the authorities and was held without bail.
Anonymous witness confessed to the FBI
The investigation into Rodriguez’s murder is moving forward quickly thanks to the involvement of an anonymous witness who allegedly assisted the culprit and confessed to the FBI. On the day of the kidnapping, Verdejo and Rodrguez talked via the phone, according to the FBI. Furthermore, surveillance photographs from a security camera show a car similar to the boxer’s parked on the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge’s emergency lane, a fact backed up by the word of an anonymous witness and consistent with the young woman’s family’s suspicions. According to the civil rights organization Observatorio de Equidad de Género, Rodrguez’s murder is the 21st feminicide in Puerto Rico this year.
Pedro Pierluisi, the governor of Puerto Rico, proclaimed a state of emergency on the island in late January due to violence against women. Last year, at least 60 women were slain, representing a 62 percent raise over the previous year. Natti Natasha, a Puerto Rican, has spoken out about the situation on social media and joined the #NiUnaMenos movement, while musician Bad Bunny has removed a video clip of Verdejo he shared. This weekend, a convoy of cars carrying family, friends, and island residents bid Keisha farewell, pleading for justice.
The witness was found to be one of Verdejo’s Accomplice
Rodriguez died of immersion asphyxia after being drowned by the bricks connected to her. This was disclosed after Verdejo’s accomplice Luis Antonio Cádiz Martnez detailed the cold-blooded brutality with which Rodriguez was killed. Martinez, who was also a key witness in the boxer’s indictment, revealed that Verdejo pummelled Rodriguez and injected her with drugs before throwing her from the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge into the lagoon, bound and gagged. After throwing her into the sea, Verdejo fired two missed bullets.
Verdejo’s Wife and Mother were also summoned
Verdejo’s wife, Santiago Sierra, and his mother, Madeline Sánchez Bonilla, were asked to appear before a Puerto Rican Federal Court in connection with Rodriguez’s murder after his indictment on May 10. Sierra and Bonilla had presented as witnesses, according to the publication El Vocero at the time. A grand jury was supposed to question the witnesses to see if there was enough evidence to file charges. According to the publication, their appearance in court could have been for the filing of an amended indictment, which is common in criminal cases where fresh accusations are made throughout the course of the case.
The discovery fueled conjecture on social media about Santiago Sierra’s complicity in the murder, or at the very least, her prior knowledge of Verdejo’s plans to kill Rodriguez. Speculations about her father’s involvement in the murder had also been reported in the local media. Santiago Sierra’s silence, which began when Verdejo was named a person of suspicion in the murder, became the main point of these theories about her complicity. However, Santiago Sierra’s legal team has steadfastly refuted these allegations.
The defense team claimed that their client is not a suspect or even a card in Rodriguez’s murder probe. “She is not a card from the federal authorities,” Eduardo Ortiz Declet, one of Santiago Sierra’s defense attorneys, stated. “This series of hypothetical remarks can affect my client and people close to him,” another lawyer, Pedro Rivera, said on television. The best thing that could have happened was that she was summoned to this so that the entire world would know that the Police… more than 200 agents in collaboration with federal agencies, and these folks are not cards or suspicions.