- The Washington Times - Monday, May 3, 2021

Lightweight boxer Felix Verdejo has been charged with the kidnapping death of a woman and her unborn child, and he surrendered himself to federal agents in Puerto Rico on Sunday night.

The FBI filed a criminal complaint in a federal court against Verdejo, accusing the 27-year-old boxer of killing 27-year-old Keishla Rodriguez and her unborn baby. Rodriguez’s body was found in a Puerto Rico lagoon after she had been reported missing two days earlier.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Verdejo was charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child, according to the Associated Press. In the criminal complaint filed by the FBI, Verdejo is accused of punching Rodriguez in the face before injecting her with an unidentified substance.

Verdejo then allegedly bound her arms and legs with wire, tied a heavy block to Rodriguez and threw her off a bridge Thursday morning. Verdejo is accused of shooting at Rodriguez’s body as he stood on the bridge. Another man allegedly helped Verdejo, but he is not named in the FBI complaint.

Verdejo is no longer listed on Top Rank’s website, a boxing promotional company that represented Verdejo since he turned professional in 2012. On Saturday, before Verdejo turned himself in to authorities, Top Rank released a statement.

“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.”

Rodriguez’s family said she was pregnant with Verdejo’s child. She and Verdejo have known each other since middle school and stayed in touch, her parents said. Verdejo is married and has a daughter with his wife.

According to the criminal complaint, Verdejo called Rodriguez on Thursday morning to ask if they could meet near her residence.

Rodriguez had previously told Verdejo she was pregnant with his child, and Verdejo allegedly wanted Rodriguez to terminate the pregnancy. Rodriguez called her mother, Keila Ortiz, on Thursday before Verdejo arrived. Rodriguez told Ortiz Verdejo was coming to see her to learn the results of the pregnancy test.

“I told her, ‘Be careful,’ because he had already threatened her,” Ortiz said, according to AP.

Verdejo is a former Olympian who represented Puerto Rico in 2012. He was 27-2 with 17 knockouts in his boxing career. His career halted momentarily in 2016 after he was hospitalized from a motorcycle accident. Verdejo last fought on Dec. 12, 2020, when he lost to Masayoshi Nakatani by technical knockout in a bout for the WBO intercontinental belt.

Hundreds of people gathered at the bridge over the lagoon where Rodriguez’s body was found to throw flowers into the water and demand justice for Rodriguez and another woman recently killed in Puerto Rico.

Based in part on wire service reports.

• Andy Kostka can be reached at akostka@washingtontimes.com.

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