Olympic boxer charged with murder of pregnant lover, unborn child

·Sports Editor
·3-min read
Felix Verdejo, pictured here during his boxing career.
Felix Verdejo has been charged with the murder of pregnant lover Keishla Rodriguez. Image: Getty/Instagram

Puerto Rican boxer Felix Verdejo has been charged with the murder of his lover and their unborn child, in a case that has ignited anger over violence against women in the US territory.

The Olympic boxer and former world champion was charged with three counts on Monday of kidnapping and murdering Keishla Rodriguez, who was pregnant at the time.

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Judge Camille Velez ordered that the 27-year-old be held without bail ahead of a plea hearing.

A federal complaint obtained by AFP stated that Verdejo, who is married and was also in a relationship with Rodriguez, allegedly kidnapped the victim on April 29 after she asked him for help to terminate her pregnancy.

An affidavit of the FBI agent who led the investigation stated Verdejo "punched the victim in the face, and she was injected with a syringe filled with a substance."

According to the affidavit, Verdejo and a witness tied Rodriguez's hands and feet with wire, and tied her to a block.

Then they drove to a lagoon in San Juan, where she was "tossed off the side of the bridge and into the water."

Verdejo then shot Rodriguez when she was already in the water.

Felix Verdejo, pictured here being arrested by Puerto Rican police.
Felix Verdejo is facing the death penalty if found guilty. Image: Twitter

Felix Verdejo facing death penalty if found guilty

The FBI found evidence that Verdejo and Rodriguez, 27, had communicated by phone on the day of the abduction. 

A security camera shows a car similar to the boxer's standing on the bridge.

Rodriguez had been reported missing on Thursday and her body was found in the San Jose lagoon on Saturday.

Her family had blamed the boxer for her disappearance and later her death.

The case sparked protests in Puerto Rico, whose governor Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency in January due to violence against women.

Flowers and messages, pictured here on the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge where the body of Keishla Rodriguez was dumped.
Flowers and messages are left on the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge where the body of Keishla Rodriguez was dumped. (Photo by RICARDO ARDUENGO/AFP via Getty Images)

Verdejo represented Puerto Rico in the London 2012 Olympic Games, and that same year began his professional career in the lightweight category.

He won 27 fights (17 by knockout), before his career stalled after a motorcycle accident in 2016.

The boxer could face the death penalty if found guilty on the charges.

On Thursday, the day when Rodriguez went missing, Puerto Rican authorities also found the charred body of another woman - Andrea Ruiz - in the town of Cayey.

A 40-year-old man, whom she had previously filed a complaint against, was arrested two days later.

"Here there is a sexist violence that comes from the past, which must be attacked head on," said Pierluisi at a press conference Monday. 

"It is a culture that must be corrected."

with AFP

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