Former Olympic boxer convicted for kidnapping and brutal murder of pregnant girlfriend

Félix Verdejo-Sánchez, a 30-year-old former Olympic boxer, was convicted on Friday for the kidnapping and murder of his pregnant girlfriend, Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, 27, in Puerto Rico. The conviction followed a three-month trial in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico, where Verdejo-Sánchez was found guilty of kidnapping resulting in death and intentionally killing an unborn child. The jury, however, could not reach a unanimous decision on charges of carjacking resulting in death and possession of a weapon during a violent crime.

The trial revolved around the federal crimes committed in connection with the disappearance and death of Rodríguez Ortiz on April 29, 2021. The prosecution’s case was built on the testimonies of over 30 witnesses, including Verdejo-Sánchez’s co-defendant, Luis Antonio Cádiz-Martínez. Cádiz-Martínez testified that Verdejo-Sánchez had pressured Rodríguez Ortiz to terminate her pregnancy.

According to the victim’s parents, Rodríguez Ortiz had been in contact with Verdejo-Sánchez since their middle school days, despite the former boxer living with another woman. On the day of the murder, Verdejo-Sánchez and Cádiz-Martínez met Rodríguez Ortiz at a predetermined location, where she was lured out of her car and into Verdejo-Sánchez’s vehicle. It was here that Rodríguez Ortiz showed Verdejo-Sánchez a positive pregnancy test.

Cádiz-Martínez further testified that Verdejo-Sánchez assaulted Rodríguez Ortiz and injected her with a substance believed to be heroin. The two men then tied her to a cement block and threw her off the Teodoro Moscoso bridge into the San José Lagoon in broad daylight. Verdejo-Sánchez later jumped into the lagoon to ensure both victims were dead.

The victim’s father, Tony Rodríguez, expressed his grief outside the courthouse, stating that he hopes Verdejo-Sánchez spends the rest of his life contemplating his actions. U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow commended the efforts of federal and local law enforcement in their pursuit of justice for this heinous crime.

An autopsy revealed that Rodríguez Ortiz was still alive when she was thrown into the lagoon and had fentanyl and xylazine, a horse sedative, in her system. Cádiz-Martínez, who pleaded guilty last year to carjacking resulting in death, anonymously tipped off the police about the location of the body days later.

Verdejo-Sánchez, who represented Puerto Rico in the 2012 Olympics and had a professional boxing career with a 27-2 record, faces a mandatory life sentence for each conviction. His sentencing is scheduled for Nov. 3. The brutal murder of Rodríguez Ortiz and her unborn child has sparked outrage in Puerto Rico, leading to calls for better protection of domestic violence victims.