The father of Keishla Rodríguez, the pregnant woman who was allegedly killed and dumped in a lagoon by Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo, has said that he opposes the death penalty and expects the former champion to spend the rest of his life in prison thinking about what he did to his daughter and unborn grandchild.
Capital punishment, according to José Rodríguez, would just be a way out for the 27-year-old former champion who turned himself in Sunday, a day after Keishla Rodríguez’s body was discovered.
‘I don’t believe in that because if you give the death penalty to a person who did what he did, you are helping him. It is better to throw 100 years on him and for him to keep that burden of conscience on his mind every day,’ José Rodríguez told Puerto Rico television network TeleOnce.
‘May he pay for it every day of his life and may he remember everything he did to my daughter. Because if one takes his life, he does not suffer, he is not going to suffer. It is better to leave him (in prison for) 100 years, that he cannot leave. … I don’t want the death penalty for him. If they ask me, no, no.’
Married former boxer Félix Verdejo was denied bail by a U.S. federal court judge in Puerto Rico on Monday, a day after he turned himself in after the body of Keishla Rodríguez was found in a lagoon near San Juan. Verdejo has been charged with kidnapping resulting in death and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child. José Rodríguez told TeleOnce that he is against U.S. prosecutors seeking the death penalty, preferring Verdejo spend 100 years in jail think about what he did to his 27-year-old daughter
The family of Keishla Rodríguez said the 27-year-old will be buried on Thursday
Verdejo, who represented Puerto Rico at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London, has been charged with kidnapping resulting in death and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child.
During a virtual hearing at a United States federal court in San Juan, judge Camille Velez ordered Verdejo be held without bail ahead of a plea hearing.
According to a court document reviewed by DailyMail.com, the charges filed by the U.S. Attorney’s Office carry a maximum penalty of death. However, the prosecutors handling the case have not announced if they will seek to execute Verdejo.
Local law enforcement agencies in Puerto Rico on Monday confirmed reports of death threats that had been made against Verdejo by gangs in the U.S. territory.
María Conte, director of Institute of Forensic Sciences, said in a press conference Monday that Rodríguez’s death was ruled a homicide and added that the cause of death was in the process of being determined.
On Tuesday, a photo surfaced on social media of a casket with a photo of Verdejo taped to it. The wooden casket was found leaning against a concrete column on a street in the town of Cupey.
The photo contained a message written in Spanish that read: ‘Felix Verdejo you screwed you bastard. Women are to be respected. Rest in peace.’
According to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI, a witness who was with Verdejo said the boxer punched Keishla Rodríguez in the face and injected her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at Luis Llorens Torres public housing complex.
The witness told the FBI that Verdejo then bound her arms and feet with wire and tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday.
Verdejo turned himself in to police in Puerto Rico on Sunday evening and was arrested over the death of Keishla Rodríguez, who was reportedly pregnant with his child
Verdejo is married to influencer Eliz Marie Santiago and has a two-year-old daughter with her
Rodríguez had pictured herself with a positive pregnancy test and was planning to tell Verdejo she was carrying their child on the night she disappeared. The image was shown on television by Rodríguez’s family as they appealed for her safe return on April 30
The complaint states that Verdejo then shot at Rodríguez’s body as he stood on the bridge.
The court document indicates the witness, who has not been named, helped Verdejo kidnap and kill Rodríguez.
Rodríguez was found in a lagoon near San Juan, the U.S. territory’s capital Saturday, after she was reported missing Thursday.
She was identified on Sunday from dental records, Puerto Rico’s Institute of Forensic Science said in a statement.
Verdejo and his attorneys previously declined comment, and police said the boxer did not originally cooperate and refused to answer questions.
Rodríguez’s family said she was one month pregnant with Verdejo’s child.
Keila Ortiz, the victim’s mother, told reporters that her daughter had called her before she vanished on Thursday morning and told her that Verdejo was going to her house to see the results of a pregnancy test.
‘I told her, ‘Be careful,’ because he had already threatened her,” Ortiz said. She said Verdejo had told her daughter not to have the baby, mentioning his career and family.
A criminal complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo of punching Keishla Rodríguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex
Félix Verdejo arrives at the police headquarters in San Juan, Puerto Rico, to meet with investigators from the Criminal Investigation Corps, at the time, he was not a suspect
He was later arrested and charged when he turned himself in to police after Rodríguez’s body was formally identified
Verdejo had refused to answer questions about his lover’s disappearance in an interview with police, but was not considered a suspect at the time
Verdejo is married to Eliz Marie Santiago and has a two-year-old daughter. He had known Rodríguez since middle school and kept in touch with her, her parents said.
The family reported Rodríguez missing after she didn’t show up for her job at an animal grooming business.
Verdejo was questioned by police Friday morning, but refused to answer questions about his lover’s disappearance.
At the time, police captain Luis Díaz said Verdejo was not considered a suspect in Rodríguez’s disappearance.
Police were investigating several anonymous calls received by Rodríguez’s parents in which a female could be heard sobbing in the background.
Officers had found a four-door gray Kia Forte was found abandoned at a lot next to a home in the municipality of Canóvanas. It was later identified as Rodríguez’s car.
Santiago also met with the police for questioning on Friday night.
Officers found a four-door gray Kia Forte abandoned at a lot next to a home in the municipality of Canóvanas. It was later identified as Rodríguez’s car
Verdejo had known Rodríguez since middle school and kept in touch with her, her parents said
Verdejo represented Puerto Rico at the Olympics in 2012, the same year he became a professional boxer competing in the lightweight division (pictured in April 2019)
Verdejo became a professional boxer competing in the lightweight division months after the 2021 Olympics.
His last fight came on December 12, 2020 when he was knocked out in a 9th round loss to Masayoshi Nakatani in Las Vegas.
Verdejo won his first 23 fights before suffering a TKO loss to Antonio Lozada Torres on March 18, 2018, at Madison Square Garden in New York.
The former WBO Latino lightweight champion rebounded by winning his next four bouts and then suffered the setback loss to Nakatani.
Top Rank, the U.S. promoter for Verdejo, removed him from the company website, but did not officially drop him from its roster.
The case has outraged many in Puerto Rico, where another woman was recently found burned to death after she filed a domestic violence complaint that a judge dismissed.
On Monday, Grammy award-winning singer Bad Bunny cut his ties to Verdejo by removing a clip that shows them boxing in the video to his song, ‘¿Quien Tú Eres?’ (Who Are You?). the video has drawn over 40 million views on YouTube.
U.S. automaker Dodge distanced itself from Verdejo. Authorities allege Verdejo used his Dodge Durango to transport Rodríguez’s body before he discarded her body.
‘Like all of Puerto Rico, at FCA Caribbean, we are deeply shocked by the death of Keishla Rodríguez Ortiz and the situation our Island is going through,’ Dodge announced on its Facebook page.
‘Due to the course of the tragic events that have emerged in the past few hours, we have decided to immediately terminate the business relationship with professional boxer Félix Verdejo. Our deepest sense of solidarity and condolences to Keishla’s family and friends.’
A Superior Court judge has announced an investigation into that decision.
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at a bridge that crosses the lagoon where Rodríguez’s body was found to demand justice for her and other women killed, with some throwing flowers into the water below.
The case has outraged many in Puerto Rico, where another woman was recently found burned to death after she filed a domestic violence complaint that a judge dismissed
Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at a bridge that crosses the lagoon where Rodríguez’s body was found to demand justice for her (pictured, her sister Bereliz Nichole Rodríguez)