Will Felix Verdejo get death penalty? Boxer charged with killing pregnant Keishla Rodriguez and his unborn child
The boxer allegedly tossed the woman from a bridge and shot hear with a pistol, resulting in her death
Warning: Graphic content
On Sunday, May 2, former Olympic boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez was arrested in Puerto Rico for kidnapping and murdering a woman who allegedly was pregnant with his child. It was barely two days after police had named him as a person of interest in the disappearance of 27-year-old Keishla Rodríguez, whose body was found in a lagoon, that the boxer turned himself in.
The Puerto Rican boxer, also known as "El Diamante" or "The Diamond," appeared in court Monday, May 3, 2021, morning, and was ordered by the judge to be held without bail. "This is a death penalty-eligible case," the judge Camille Velez reportedly said.
The boxer was charged with kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death, and intentionally killing an unborn child - each charge carries a lifetime sentence or the death penalty.
According to the criminal complaint filed by the FBI, Verdejo punched Rodriguez in the face and then injected her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance. According to the complaint, Verdejo and a witness to the crime then drove in two cars to the Teodoro Moscoso bridge in Puerto Rico's capital of San Juan, where they tossed Rodriguez into the water. "Verdejo shot at the victim with a pistol from the bridge," the affidavit states.
A witness to the crime
According to the FBI criminal complaint, a witness whose name has not been released, has "first hand" knowledge of Rodriguez's disappearance and the crime and is reportedly cooperating with the agency.
According to the testimony provided by FBI Special Agent Lorenzo Vilanova Perez, Verdejo contacted the witness on April 27, 2021, to seek help to terminate Rodriguez's pregnancy. Two days later, "Verdejo and the witness drove to the meeting in the black Dodge Durango SUV." Then after allegedly punching Rodriguez in the face and injecting her "with a syringe filled with substances purchased" in San Juan.
Verdejo has been reportedly married to a woman named Eliz Marie Santiago Sierra for about eight years, and the two have a child named Miranda. According to the latest local reports, "His wife, Eliz Santiago Sierra, was also interviewed and confirmed to authorities that she was aware that Verdejo and Rodríguez Ortiz knew each other and had a relationship."
Verdejo was an immediate suspect
The victim's mother Keila Ortiz immediately suspected Verdejo and reportedly urged authorities to investigate his whereabouts after her daughter disappeared on April 29. She called him a murderer and told reporters, "He is not the diamond. The diamond was my daughter!"
A state of emergency
Verdejo's case comes at a time when the island has been seeing an increase in the violence against women - a situation that has reportedly triggered a state of emergency. In January, Puerto Rico's new governor Pedro Pierluisi, declared a state of emergency over the increase in gender violence.
The declaration was prompted by the killing of Angie Noemi González Santos, a nurse from Barranquitas. The mother of three was found dead in a ravine and, according to reports, her partner of 16 years later confessed to the crime. Many had gathered on the bridge to protest Rodriguez's death and demand justice for her. Recently, another woman was reportedly found burned to death after she filed a domestic violence complaint that a judge dismissed.