Lightweight boxer Felix Verdejo faces federal charges stemming from the death of a 27-year-old woman whose body was found in a lagoon in Puerto Rico, officials announced late Sunday night.
The body of Keishla Rodriguez, who was pregnant at the time of her death, was found a couple of days after she was reported missing. She was identified Sunday via dental records, Puerto Rico’s Institute of Forensic Science said in a statement.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said late Sunday that Verdejo was being charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child. Verdejo turned himself in to federal agents Sunday night.
A criminal complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo of punching Rodriguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex. It alleges that he then bound her arms and feet with wire and tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge at 8:30 a.m. Thursday.
The complaint states that Verdejo then shot at Rodriguez’s body as he stood on the bridge. The complaint says a witness it did not identify helped Verdejo kidnap and kill Rodriguez.
Verdejo questioned in missing woman’s case
Verdejo and his attorneys previously declined comment, and police said the boxer did not originally cooperate and refused to answer questions.
Top Rank, which has promoted Verdejo, 27, since he turned pro in 2012, released a statement on the situation on Saturday.
“Top Rank’s thoughts and prayers are with Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz’s family and friends, and with all those in mourning,” the statement read. “We are deeply disturbed by the news reports, and we will continue to monitor developments in the case as it progresses.”
As of Sunday night, Verdejo’s fighter page was no longer on the Top Rank website. A representative for Top Rank, reached Sunday night, referred to the statement the promotion released Saturday and had no further comment.
Rodriguez’s family has said she was pregnant with Verdejo’s child. Keila Ortiz, the woman’s mother, told reporters that her daughter had called her before she vanished Thursday and told her Verdejo was going to her house to see the results of a pregnancy test.
“I told her, ‘Be careful,’ because he had already threatened her” and told her not to have the baby, mentioning his career and family, she said.
Verdejo is married, but he had known Rodriguez since middle school and had kept in touch with her, her parents said. They reported her missing after she didn’t show up to work at an animal grooming business.
Verdejo (27-2, 17 KOs) is a former Olympian who represented Puerto Rico in 2012. His professional career was temporarily sidetracked after he was hospitalized following a motorcycle crash in 2016.
The case has outraged many in Puerto Rico, where another woman was recently found burned to death after she filed a domestic violence complaint that a judge dismissed. A Superior Court judge has announced an investigation into that decision.
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at a bridge that crosses the lagoon where Rodriguez’s body was found to demand justice for her and other women killed, with some throwing flowers into the water below.
ESPN’s Brett Okamoto, Michael Rothstein and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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