Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo turned himself in to authorities on Sunday evening and is facing charges of killing his pregnant lover after her body washed up in a lagoon over the weekend, officials said.
The body of Keishla Rodríguez, 27, was found near San Juan Saturday, and was identified by dental records, the Institute of Forensic Science in Puerto Rico, said on Sunday.
Verdejo, a Lightweight boxer, is accused of punching Rodríguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI.
He allegedly bound Rodríguez’s arms and feet with wire and tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge Thursday. Verdejo then shot at Rodríguez’s body while standing on the bridge, the complaint stated. The complaint alleged that an unidentified witness helped Verdejo bind and kill Rodriguez.
Verdejo, 27, is facing charges of kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death, and killing an unborn child, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office on Sunday. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death.
He was identified by authorities as a person of interest in her disappearance and was seen walking out of the San Juan Criminal Investigation Corps headquarters on Friday, reports said. Capt. Luis Díaz Muñoz of the San Juan criminal investigation corps told the El Nuevo Día on Friday that Verdejo was not cooperating with investigators.
The Rodríguez family added that she was pregnant with Verdejo’s child.
Keila Ortiz, the victim’s mother, told reporters that her daughter called before she vanished on Thursday. Ortiz said her daughter told her that Verdejo was going to her house to see the results of a pregnancy test.
“I told her ‘Be careful’ because he had threatened her not to have the baby, that he had his family, that he is a boxer, that he is a public figure,” Ortiz told reporters.
Verdejo is married and has a young daughter but had known Rodríguez since middle school and has kept in touch with her, her parents said. They reported her missing after she didn’t show up for her job at an animal grooming business.
Verdejo (27-2, 17 knockouts) represented Puerto Rico at the Olympics in 2012, the same year he became a professional boxer competing in the lightweight division. His career was temporarily sidetracked after a 2016 motorcycle accident that put him in the hospital.
Top Rank, a boxing promotion company in Las Vegas, which has promoted Verdejo, released a statement 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.”
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 Rodríguez’s body was found to demand justice for her and other women killed, with some throwing flowers into the water below.
Verdejo is expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday, a spokeswoman for the FBI told the New York Times.
The Associated Press contributed to this report