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Boxing star Felix Verdejo has been arrested and charged with the murder of a pregnant woman, reported to be his lover.
The married 27-year-old - who fought for Puerto Rico at the 2012 Olympics before turning professional and becoming one of the rising stars of the sport - reportedly turned himself over to FBI agents on Sunday. He could face the death penalty if convicted.
The death of Keishla Rodriguez, 27, was being investigated by federal agents after her body was found in a lagoon in Puerto Rico's capital San Juan on Saturday, days after she was reported missing.
A criminal complaint filed by the FBI has accused Verdejo of punching Rodriguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance, according to a report in the Guardian.
It also alleges that he then bound her arms and feet with wire and tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge on Thursday morning. The complaint adds that Verdejo then shot at Rodriguez's body as he stood on the bridge.
The US Attorney's Office has said that Verdejo is being charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death - and with intentionally killing an unborn child. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death, although no decision has been made on whether to pursue that penalty, according to federal prosecutors.
Death penalty is on the table for Felix Verdejo as today in P.R. he was summoned to court to be informed of the charges against him. No bail. He will remain in custody of the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Puerto Rico.- Lance Pugmire (@pugboxing) May 3, 2021
Lightweight boxer Verdejo was once considered one of the most talented prospects in boxing as he fought to a 23-0 pro record. An upset defeat to Antonio Lozada Jr proved a career setback in 2018, but Verdejo was still a regular face on major boxing cards in the USA.
Rodriguez had pictured herself with a positive pregnancy test and was reportedly planning to tell Verdejo she was carrying their child on the night she disappeared.
Keila Ortiz, the victim's mother, told reporters that her daughter had called her before she vanished on Thursday and said that 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, per the Guardian. She said Verdejo had told her daughter not to have the baby, mentioning his career and his own family.
Rodriguez's parents first alerted authorities to her disappearance when she failed to show up for her job at an animal grooming business.
The married boxer had apparently known Rodriguez since his school days and kept in touch with her.
Verdejo and his attorneys have reportedly declined to comment, while police said the boxer did not originally cooperate and refused to answer questions.
Featured image credit: PA Images
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