Lightweight Felix Verdejo in custody, accused of murdering pregnant mistress

Allegedly punched, drugged, bound and threw her off bridge

From 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian to darling prospect of the year to rising lightweight contender to reclamation project after two upset knockout losses to accused murderer. That is the shocking arc of Felix Verdejo’s life over the past decade.

Verdejo, 27, was in custody in Puerto Rico on Sunday night after surrendering to federal agents as a suspect in the murder of his 27-year-old mistress Keishla Rodriguez and their unborn child.

Earlier Sunday, Rodriguez’s body was identified via dental records (because her face was too disfigured to identify) after it was found in a lagoon near San Juan. She had been reported missing on Thursday after failing to show up for work.

In the criminal complaint filed by the FBI against Verdejo in the U.S. District Court of Puerto Rico, Verdejo is accused of kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death and killing of an unborn child.

According to reports in Puerto Rico, Rodriguez’s mother said that her daughter was going to meet the married Verdejo, whom she had known since they were in middle school, to show him blood test results proving he was the father of the child he had said he did not want.

According to the criminal complaint, on or about April 27 Verdejo contacted an accomplice, who is now a cooperating witness, and “requested his help to terminate the pregnancy of the victim, who told Verdejo that she was pregnant based on a pregnancy test.”

On April 29, according to the complaint, Verdejo arranged to meet Rodriguez near her residence and he and the witness drove to meet her, and when they did she exited her gray Kia Forte and entered his Black Dodge Durango SUV.

The complaint then describes a grisly murder Verdejo is alleged to have committed.

“Following a conversation between Verdejo and the victim in Verdejo’s car, Verdejo punched the victim in the face, and she was injected with a syringe filled with substances purchased from a drug point in Llorenes Torres,” the complaint said. “Verdejo and the witness then restrained the victim’s arms and feet with wire. A block was tied to the victim. The witness then took the victim’s keys and boarded the victim’s nearby Kia.”

Verdejo and the witness are then said in the complaint to have driven the two vehicles toward the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge, which spans the San Jose Lagoon between San Juan and Carolina, and removed the unconscious Rodriguez from Verdejo’s vehicle and “tossed off the side of the bridge and into the water. Verdejo shot at the victim with a pistol from the bridge. The victim’s car was later abandoned.”

Rodriguez’s Kia was found on April 30 and police later obtained detailed cellular phone call, text message and location records for the phone listed as belonging to Verdejo.

Further, the complaint said the FBI reviewed surveillance camera footage from the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge and that at “approximately 8:29 AM, the video depicts a dark SUV type vehicle consistent with the appearance of Verdejo’s vehicle parking on the emergency lane of the bridge.”

Police also found a shell casing near the spot on the bridge depicted in the video.

After the Olympics, Verdejo (27-2, 17 KOs) signed with Top Rank and turned pro in December 2012. He was viewed by many as the next great Puerto Rican world champion in waiting and he became a popular attraction in Puerto Rico and New York. But injuries in a dirt bike accident, issues with his longtime trainer and manager and then a shocking upset 10th-round knockout loss to Antonio Lozada dropped him to 23-1 in March 2018 and left many cold about his future in the ring.

He eventually split from trainer/manager Ricky Marquez and won four fights in a row. Verdejo was on the verge of a world title opportunity when he met Masayoshi Nakatani on Dec. 12 inside the bubble of the conference center of the MGM Grand in Las Vegas. Verdejo dropped Nakatani in the first and fourth rounds and was well ahead on all three scorecards when Nakatani rallied to knock Verdejo down twice in the ninth round and stop him.

Top Rank issued a statement on Saturday night on the situation.

“Top Rank’s thoughts and prayers are with Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz's family and friends, and with all those in mourning,” the statement said. “We are deeply disturbed by the news reports, and we will continue to monitor developments in the case as it progresses.”

By Sunday night, Top Rank had removed Verdejo’s page from its website.

Verdejo is expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday.

Photo: Telemundo screen shot

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