Hundreds of people lined up outside a San Juan, Puerto Rico funeral home to mourn the death of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz, a 27-year-old pregnant woman who was killed last week. At the same time, a federal grand jury indicted both Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo Sánchez and an accomplice in her killing.
Verdejo Sánchez and Luis Antonio Cádiz Martínez are facing one count of carjacking resulting in death, one count of kidnapping resulting in death, and one count for killing an unborn child, U.S. Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow said in a press release Thursday afternoon.
Verdejo Sánchez is also facing and additional count for using and carrying a firearm during and in relation to a crime of violence.
Rodríguez Ortiz was pregnant with Verdejo Sánchez’s child, according to the woman’s family.
Her body was found floating on the San José Lagoon near the Teodoro Moscoso bridge on Saturday, two days after Rodríguez Ortiz’s family reported her missing. She was identified via dental records, according to a statement released by Puerto Rico’s Institute of Forensic Science on Sunday. Hours later, Verdejo Sánchez turned himself to the authorities and was being held without bail.
“Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz was taken from a family that loved her, and she and her child were denied the most fundamental right of life, and the joy of knowing what that life could have been,” Muldrow said. “We hope that this process brings some measure of solace to Keishla’s family.”
The FBI has been leading the investigation in collaboration with the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety, the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.
Keila Ortiz and José Antonio Rodríguez, the parents of Rodríguez Ortiz, were visibly moved by the crowds of Puerto Ricans who showed up to their daughter’s funeral. Many of them brought flowers, balloons and stuffed animals to pay their respects.
Ortiz said, however, she had not been looking forward to this day.
“I did not want today to come. It is a very hard situation for the family,” she said in a press conference outside the funeral home. “We are both going through an unimaginable pain.”
“The abuse against women has to stop”
Rodríguez Ortiz’s killing is the latest in a string of femicides that have claimed the lives of at least 21 women in Puerto Rico since January, according to the civil rights coalition Observatorio de Equidad de Género. At least 60 women were killed last year, marking a 62 percent increase in femicides compared to the previous year.
“Let her be the last,” Ortiz said. “The abuse against women has to stop.”
According to a criminal complaint, Rodríguez Ortiz was killed after she told “Verdejo that she was pregnant with his child based on a pregnancy test.”
According to the criminal complaint, a witness to the crimes told the FBI that Verdejo contacted the witness asking for help terminating Rodríguez Ortiz’s pregnancy. Verdejo Sánchez and Rodríguez Ortiz met up near her home and drove separately to meet the witness. When they got to the meeting place,…