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Violent deaths of 2 women in Puerto Rico stoke sorrow, outrage as femicides mount

Syra Ortiz-Blanes, The Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

Keila Ortiz, Rodríguez's mother, who lives in Orlando, landed in Puerto Rico within hours of Rodríguez going missing. She said Rodríguez and relatives had been overjoyed at the news of the pregnancy. But the boxer did not want the child, because he was a public figure who had a wife and daughter, Ortiz told Telemundo.

"He threatened her to not have his baby," Ortiz said, adding that she had spoken to her daughter the morning she vanished, after saying she was going to meet Verdejo to show him a pregnancy test.

She told him: "Take it easy. I have the baby. You don't even have to admit it. My baby will have my last names, I'm not going to bother you."

Verdejo was brought in for questioning on Friday but refused to cooperate with police. That same day, Rodríguez's car was found abandoned in Canovanas, a town in northeast Puerto Rico over a dozen miles from San Juan.

Then, on Saturday, police received a tip that an unidentified blonde woman in blue clothing was floating in the San José Lagoon. She had an ornate diamond tattoo on her nape — just like Verdejo, who goes by the alias Diamante, or Diamond.

Rodríguez's family was on a small motorboat in the lagoon as maritime police retrieved the body. Verdejo's car was seized hours later by authorities after a similar one was seen on video footage of the bridge near the lagoon.

 

The following day, Rodríguez was identified as the dead woman through dental analysis.

Verdejo turned himself in to authorities that night, and was soon charged after a witness involved in the crime went to authorities and offered first-hand testimony.

The witness said Verdejo asked to help to terminate Rodríguez's pregnancy, according to an FBI affidavit. After reaching out to Rodríguez to meet in his car near her home, the professional boxer punched her in the face and injected her with unidentified drugs. Then, Verdejo and the witness bound the pregnant woman's hands and feet with wires and tied a block to her. They took her to the Teodoro Moscoso bridge at the San José Lagoon and threw her into the water.

Verdejo shot at his partner of 11 years from the bridge above, the affidavit states.

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