A former Olympic boxer was arrested in Puerto Rico on Sunday, May 2, for allegedly kidnapping and murdering a woman who was said to be pregnant with his child.
Félix Verdejo Sánchez, who is known as "El Diamante" or "The Diamond," appeared in court on Monday, May 3, after he reportedly turned himself in one day earlier after officials announced that the body of the woman was identified. A judge ordered that the Puerto Rican boxer be held without bail.
Sánchez is being charged with kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death, and intentionally killing an unborn child. All of the charges come with a life sentence or the death penalty.
"This is a death-penalty-eligible case," Federal Judge Camille Velez said. Although the death penalty is not in place in Puerto Rico, it can be used in cases with federal charges such as this one, ESPN reported.
The body of Keishla Marlen Rodriguez was discovered on Saturday, May 1, and was identified via dental records according to a forensic report, NPR reported.
A witness reportedly had "first hand" knowledge of Rodriguez's disappearance and is cooperating with the FBI. According to FBI Special Agent Lorenzo Vilanova Perez's testimony, Sánchez contacted the witness on April 27 to ask for help to terminate Rodriguez's pregnancy. Two days later, Sánchez made plans to meet Rodriguez.
Sánchez and the unidentified witness drove to meet Rodriguez near her home in a black Dodge Durango SUV while Rodriguez drove herself to meet Sánchez in a gray Kia Forte and then got into Sánchez's vehicle.
Sánchez allegedly punched Rodriguez in the face and injected her "with a syringe filled with substances purchased" in San Juan. Then Sánchez and the witness allegedly tied her arms and feet up with wire and tied a block to her body. Sánchez and the witness then drove both the cars to Teodoro Moscoso where they threw Rodriguez into the water and "Verdejo [Sánchez] shot at the Victim with a pistol from the bridge," according to the affidavit.
Rodriguez's abandoned car was discovered by Puerto Rican police officers April 30. They also found at least one shell casing on the bridge.
Rodriguez's mother, Keila Ortiz, is said to have immediately suspected Sánchez and was aware of her daughter's pregnancy. Ortiz urged authorities to look into Sánchez's whereabouts when her daughter vanished.
"He is not the diamond. The diamond was my daughter!" she reportedly told reporters.
Sánchez has reportedly been married to Eliz Marie Santiago Sierra for eight years, and the pair have a child together. Sierra was also interviewed and told authorities that she was aware that the 27-year-old boxer and Rodriguez knew each other and had a relationship, El Neuvo Dia reported.
Sánchez and Rodriguez had reportedly known each other since middle school and kept in touch.
"Puerto Rico mourns Keishla Rodríguez's death. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends," Alexis Torres, the secretary of the Department of Public Safety of Puerto Rico, said in a statement.
Rodriguez's death comes after a rise in violence against women has triggered a state of emergency in Puerto Rico, NPR reported.