Carlos Justy / AP
Editor’s note: This story contains graphic descriptions of physical violence.
On Thursday, a federal jury charged Puerto Rican boxer Felix Verdejo with allegedly stealing a car, kidnapping and killing his pregnant lover, a case that shook the island amid the plague against women.
The grand jury also indicted Verdejo’s alleged accomplice, Luis Antonio Cadiz-Martinez, who is accused of helping the 27-year-old boxer lure Caisla Marlene Rodriguez Ortiz to his death early the morning of April 29 in exchange for some kind of payment.
Many of the details of Rodriguez’s murder were given to investigators by Cadiz, who was cited in a federal complaint against Verdejo as a previously unnamed FBI collaborator.
The indictments were announced on the same day as Rodriguez’s awakening, which they attended mourned by all of Puerto Rico who are outraged by the latest murder of a woman at the hands of a current or former partner. Rodriguez’s death marks the island’s 18th femicide since early 2021, according to NotiCentro, a local newspaper.
Thursday’s indictments added to allegations Verdejo had faced earlier: car theft leading to death, kidnapping leading to death and killing an unborn child. Now Verdejo is also accused of using and carrying a firearm during the commission of a crime.
A lawsuit filed Monday in court alleges that Verdejo and Cadiz discussed ways to get Rodriguez to agree to a meeting near her home. According to the complaint, Verdejo forced the pregnant woman, whom he had known for about 11 or 12 years, to got in his car. According to her parents, the two went to school together and were in a relationship for a time.
Once there, the professional boxer, whose career includes more than a dozen knockout victories, claims that he hit Rodriguez in the face and injected her with an unspecified drug, according to court documents.
Cadiz then took a more active role, claiming that he was helping Verdejo hold the woman by tying his arms and legs with wire and attaching her body to a heavy block. It is not clear in the complaint whether she was still alive at the time, but it is said Verdejo then drew his pistol and shot Rodriguez. At 8:30 a.m. Thursday morning, her body fell into the water under the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge in San Juan, investigators said.
Cadiz then helped Verdejo try to get rid of Rodriguez’s car, according to the US District Attorney in Puerto Rico.
During a hearing Thursday afternoon, a judge ordered Cadiz detained without bail, at least until his arrest on May 11. Verdejo, who surrendered after officers pulled Rodriguez’s body from a nearby lagoon, was denied bail Monday.
Both men are charged with kidnapping, death, car theft, death and premeditated murder of an unborn child. Each charge carries a life sentence or the death penalty.
“Each defendant committed the crime in a particularly cruel, heinous or depraved manner,” the indictment said. He also claims that “substantial planning and intent” led to the death of Rodriguez.
Keila Ortiz, Rodriguez’s mother, was surrounded by her family during a press conference after the young woman. She called on women who are in potentially dangerous relationships or who are victims of violence to speak up.
“Women, don’t be quiet,” she repeated over and over.
The woman’s father, Jose Antonio Rodriguez, told reporters on Wednesday that he did not support the death penalty, the AP reported.
“It doesn’t solve anything for me. What has been done has been done,” he said. “Let me remember every day who my daughter is.”