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Husband of missing wife pleads not guilty in Miami to kidnapping her in Spain

Jay Weaver, Miami Herald on

Published in News & Features

A South Florida man whose estranged wife has been missing in Spain since early February pleaded not guilty Monday to an indictment charging him with kidnapping her. He’s also challenging his detention that was ordered by a federal magistrate judge.

David Knezevich, 35, was indicted on a single charge of traveling from Miami to Madrid to kidnap his wife between Jan. 27 and Feb. 5. The wife, who is only identified as a “victim” in the indictment, is Ana María Knezevich Henao, 40. She left for Spain in late December as the Fort Lauderdale couple confronted divorce, including a fight over millions of dollars in joint assets.

The wife, a Colombia native, has been reported missing since she was last seen in Madrid on Feb. 2, according to Spain’s National Police, which is investigating her disappearance as a possible murder and has conducted searches for her body.

Knezevich was arrested in early May at Miami International Airport by FBI agents when returning from his native Serbia. Since his arrest he has been held at the Federal Detention Center in Miami. If convicted of the single kidnapping charge, he faces up to life in prison and the loss of any money stemming from the offense.

Knezevich, who is suspected of masterminding an elaborate intercontinental kidnapping and murder of his wife in Spain, was previously denied bond in Miami federal court by Magistrate Judge Edwin G. Torres. The judge found, based on an FBI criminal complaint before Knezevich was indicted on the single kidnapping charge, that his wealth and connections abroad made him a flight risk. But at his detention hearing last month, Torres also said the decision was “a close call.”

In his detention order filed in early June, Torres spelled out his reasoning for keeping Knezevich locked up before trial.

“A great deal of circumstantial evidence supports the government’s complaint, including [the] defendant’s documented travel through extraordinary means from the United States to Turkey and then to Spain,” Torres wrote. “Additionally, the defendant appears on video surveillance in Spain purchasing materials that may have been used in a kidnapping, all while the defendant claims to have been elsewhere.

“The government’s complaint is also supported by a strong motive that [the] defendant may have had to commit this offense given his bitter divorce with the victim.”


Defense attorney Jayne Weintraub responded in a court filing that Knezevich should be released because he has lived in Fort Lauderdale for the past 15 years, is close to a brother who also resides in the same area, and owns an information technology business along with real estate investments.

She also pointed out that “most of his ‘means’ are tied up in second mortgages” and that his estranged wife’s family has opened up a conservatorship to manage her property, leaving Knezevich with “very little money available at all.”

Knezevich hasn’t yet been charged with the murder of Ana, his wife of 13 years. That is a possibility, if Spain’s National Police or the FBI recover his wife’s body.

As of now, it’s not even known if she’s dead.

Federal prosecutors believe Ana Knezevich was so frightened by her husband that the Fort Lauderdale couple’s relationship essentially ended when she boarded a flight for Madrid the day after Christmas. Once there, they say, she messaged friends and family of the troubled relationship and began to date several men.

Ana Knezevich disappeared on Feb. 2, and all contact with friends and family ended.

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