Puerto Rican boxer indicted in pregnant lover’s death

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Keishla Rodriguez memorial, Felix Verdejo

Left: A memorial for Keishla Rodriguez | Right: Puerto Rican boxer Felix Verdejo (Left: AP Photo/Carlos Giusti | Right: AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews, File)

SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico — A grand jury has indicted Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo in the killing of his pregnant lover in a case that is potentially eligible for the death penalty.

Thursday’s indictment was announced as dozens of people attended the wake of 27-year-old Keishla Rodríguez, who was reported missing a week ago and whose body was identified on Sunday via dental records.

Verdejo turned himself into authorities on Sunday night and is being held without bail.

A criminal complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo of punching Rodríguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex. It alleges he then bound her arms and feet with wire, tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and then shot at her body.

The complaint says a witness it did not identify helped Verdejo kidnap and kill Rodríguez.

Rodríguez’s family said she was pregnant with Verdejo’s child. Keila Ortiz, the victim’s mother, told reporters that her daughter called on 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,” Ortiz said. She said Verdejo had told her daughter not to have the baby, mentioning his career and family.

Verdejo is married and has a young daughter but had known Rodríguez since middle school and maintained a relationship with her, her parents said.

Verdejo (27-2, 17 knockouts) represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Olympics and became a professional boxer that year, competing in the lightweight division. His career was temporarily sidetracked after he was hospitalized following a 2016 motorcycle accident.

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.

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