Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez has been charged in connection with the killing of a 27-year-old pregnant woman and her unborn baby.
Per outlets such as the New York Times and ESPN, Sánchez, also known as Félix Verdejo, turned himself in to law enforcement officials Sunday evening and was charged with kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death, and intentionally killing an unborn child under the Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004.
The athlete — who represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Olympic Games in London — could face life imprisonment or the death penalty for the carjacking and kidnapping charges, and life imprisonment for the intentional killing of an unborn child charge. However, the Times reports that federal prosecutors have not decided on whether to pursue the death penalty.
Per a federal complaint obtained by the Times, Sánchez is accused of punching the woman, injecting her with “substances,” tying her body to a block, and throwing her from a bridge into the water.
According to The Associated Press, the woman — identified by outlets as Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz and Keishla Rodríguez — was reported missing on Thursday after she didn’t show up for her job at an animal grooming business.
Her body was found Saturday and was identified through dental records. Per her missing person’s report, police say Ortiz had last spoken with her mother about 7 a.m. local time on Thursday.
The AP reports that Ortiz’s parents say Sánchez had known Keishla since middle school and maintained a relationship with her.
Citing the AP, who referenced Ortiz’s family, The Hill says Ortiz was reportedly pregnant with Sánchez’s child.
Additionally, Ortiz’s mother Keila Ortiz reportedly told her daughter to “be careful” because Sánchez had allegedly threatened Keishla and told her not to have the baby in the past.
In their complaint, the FBI used information from a witness whom the agency describes as a person “with firsthand, personal knowledge” of what took place.
Allegedly, Sánchez contacted the witness “and requested his help to terminate the pregnancy,” and the witness obliged.
The Times reports that Sánchez and Ortiz met on Thursday evening in his black Durango SUV.
Inside the vehicle, Sánchez allegedly punched her in the face “and she was injected with a syringe filled with substances,” which were not specified in the complaint.
Sánchez and the witness allegedly tied her hands and feet with wire. They also allegedly tied a block to her and loaded her body into the vehicle she had driven to meet Sánchez.
Per the complaint, Sánchez and the witness drove both vehicles onto the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and they tossed Ortiz into the water. Sánchez allegedly then shot at her with a pistol from the bridge.
The complaint says Sánchez and the witness abandoned Ortiz’s vehicle, which was found a day later.
Officials say they were able to use cellphone data to piece together where Ortiz had traveled and with whom she had spoken with before she disappeared. The Times reports that surveillance video from the bridge shows a dark SUV similar to Sánchez’s parked in the emergency lane of the bridge.
Per the AP, a federal judge ordered Sánchez to be held without bail.
“This is a death penalty-eligible case,” Judge Camille Vélez was quoted saying.
The outlet also says Sánchez and his attorneys previously declined comment.
The U.S. government now has 30 days to present the case to a federal grand jury. A date for Sánchez’s next hearing has yet to be announced.
Our condolences go out to Keishla’s family and loved ones for their loss.