Pro boxer Félix Verdejo turns himself in after pregnant girlfriend found dead in lagoon

Sports

CBS News 03 May, 2021 - 06:30am 38 views

Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo turned himself in to federal agents Sunday night to face federal charges just hours after authorities identified the body of a dead woman as his 27-year-old pregnant lover, officials said. The U.S. Attorney's Office said late Sunday that Verdejo was being charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child.

VIDEO of Boxer Felix Verdejo right after he surrendered to the FBI in Puerto Rico pic.twitter.com/FNni5jFGFv

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. It alleges he 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. Thursday.

The complaint states that Verdejo then shot at Rodríguez's body as he stood on the bridge.

The complaint says a witness it did not identify helped Verdejo kidnap and kill Rodríguez.

Rodríguez was found in a lagoon near the U.S. territory's capital Saturday, a couple of days after she was reported missing. She was identified Sunday via 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 pregnant with Verdejo's child. Keila Ortiz, the victim's mother, told reporters that her daughter had called her before she vanished Thursday 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.

Verdejo is married and has a young daughter but had known Rodríguez since middle school and kept in touch with her, her parents said. They reported her missing after she didn't show up for her job at an animal grooming business.

Verdejo (27-2, 17 knockouts) represented Puerto Rico at the Olympics in 2012, the same year he became a professional boxer competing in the lightweight division. His career was temporarily sidetracked after a 2016 motorcycle accident that put him in the hospital.

Top Rank Boxing, which has promoted Verdejo, said in a statement that it was "deeply disturbed" by the news on Saturday — after Rodriguez's body was found but before Verdejo was charged.

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

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. 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.

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Puerto Rico: Boxer charged with killing pregnant lover | DW | 03.05.2021

DW (English) 03 May, 2021 - 09:00am

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The body of a pregnant woman was found in a lagoon on the US territory of Puerto Rico days after she went missing. The FBI has charged boxer Felix Verdejo with her murder.

Felix Verdejo (right) first achieved fame after boxing in the 2012 London Olympics

Professional boxer Felix Verdejo turned himself in to the FBI on Sunday night to face federal charges after his lover's body was found in a lagoon near the capital San Juan.

The US Attorney's Office named the charges against the 27-year-old Verdejo as kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death, and intentionally killing an unborn child.

The body of Keishla Rodriguez was discovered on Saturday, several days after she had been reported missing.

The FBI said that Verdejo, who is married and has a daughter, assaulted his lover and injected her with an unknown substance before binding her hands and feet to a heavy object and throwing her in the river, at which point he began shooting at her body from the bridge.

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Hundreds of people gathered by the lagoon on Sunday to demand justice for Rodriguez and for other female victims of domestic violence.

Rodriguez's mother Keila Ortiz told reporters that he daughter had called her on Thursday before disappearing and said that Verdejo was on his way over to check the result of a pregnancy test.

Ortiz warned her daughter to be careful because Verdejo "had already threatened her" not to have the baby, fearing for his family and career.

Rodriguez and Verdejo knew each other in middle school and had kept in touch, the victim's parents said. She was reported missing after not showing up for work on Thursday.

Verdejo was questioned by police in relation to Rodriguez's disappearance on Friday, but the boxer refused to cooperate at the time.

Puerto Rico's Governor Pedro Pierluisi reiterated his "commitment to the fight against gender-based violence" on Sunday, while at the same time announcing a reduction in funding for fighting gender-based violence by the Financial Oversight and Management Board for Puerto Rico.

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The protesters who came out on Sunday to demand an end to violence against women met under the call for a "national cry that will be heard in all corners. For those who are no longer with us and for those who will come."

The murder of Rodriguez brought further outrage after another woman was burned to death after filing a domestic violence complaint that was dismissed by a judge.

Verdejo first gained prominence after reaching the quarter-finals of the London Olympics in 2012, turning professional that same year.

The declaration allows for more resources and a special representative to be appointed to combat gender-based violence. Last year, the US territory recorded 60 femicides and six murders of transgender people.  

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Felix Verdejo accused of punching, drugging and killing pregnant woman

World Boxing News 03 May, 2021 - 09:00am

An affidavit described the shocking turn of events as Verdejo handed himself into Puerto Rican police on Sunday.

Verdejo, a former world champion, is accused of kidnapping, carjacking resulting in death, and intentionally killing the unborn child of Keishla Rodriguez.

Allegedly, Verdejo lured Miss Rodriguez to a meeting before punching her in the face after an altercation. He reportedly then injected her with a drug to make her pass out.

The substance used was not named. But Verdejo is then said to have tied Miss Rodriguez up, weighed her down with a block (or blocks), and then launched her pregnant body off a bridge on Thursday.

Words stated in the letter also indicated that Verdejo fired a shot (or shots) at the floating body, which didn’t sink as planned.

Puerto Rican media has since claimed that Verdejo needed help to carry out the attack and that his wife may have acted as the assailant.

After being brought in by Police on Friday, Verdejo declined to comment through his lawyer. But one reports widely circulated, he handed himself in two days later.

Members of Rodriguez’s family told police that Verdejo had displayed threatening behavior before the perpetrator carried out the murder.

Top Rank, who removed the 27-year-old from their website soon after, released a statement on the shocking happening.

“Top Rank’s thoughts and prayers are with Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz’s family and friends. With all those in mourning,” they said.

“We are deeply disturbed by the news reports. We will continue to monitor developments in the case as it progresses.”

Domestic violence is a big problem in Puerto Rico. But nothing had hit the boxing world this hard in a long time.

With his boxing career over, predictions Verdejo could even face the death penalty. That’s if found guilty of all charges that are now circulating.

“El Diamante” last fought in December when losing for only the second time against Masayoshi Nakatani, the man currently linked to a summer fight with Vasyl Lomachenko.

Before embarking on a pro career with Top Rank, Verdejo competed at the London 2012 Olympics, where he lost to the Ukrainian superman in the final.

Boxer Felix Verdejo charged with killing girlfriend and unborn child

Bloody Elbow 03 May, 2021 - 07:00am

Felix Verdejo turned himself into authorities in Puerto Rico last night.

On Saturday the body of Keishla Rodriguez Ortiz, 27, was discovered in a lagoon outside of Carolina, Puerto Rico. Rodriguez had been missing since last Thursday morning.

Last night lightweight boxer Felix Verdejo, 27, turned himself into authorities in San Juan. Shortly after he was charged with kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death and killing an unborn child. If convicted Verdejo could receive a death sentence.

According to the New York Times Verdejo’s charges are the result of information Puerto Rico’s FBI branch acquired from a witness who had “firsthand, personal knowledge” of what took place.

According to that account Verdejo contacted the witness and requested his help “to terminate the pregnancy” of Rodriguez, who he was having an extramarital affair with. The witness agreed to help.

The account further states that Verdejo and Rodriguez met on Thursday evening in Verdejo’s SUV. The complaint claims that Verdejo attacked Rodriguez in that vehicle, punching her in the face. The witness said Rodriguez was then “injected with a syringe filled with substances”. The witness said he and Verdejo then bound Rodriguez’s hands and feet with wire and attached a block. The witness then said that they and Verdejo drove Verdejo’s SUV and Rodriguez’s car to the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge.

The witness claims that they helped Verdejo throw Rodriguez from the bridge and into the lagoon. The witness said that Verdejo then shot at Rodriguez with a pistol. Rodriguez’s car was then abandoned.

Law enforcement used cellphone data to discover where Rodriguez had been and whom she had spoken to before her disappearance was reported. That lead investigators to Teodoro Moscoso Bridge. Surveillance video was acquired from the bridge, which authorities say shows Verdejo’s vehicle at the scene.

After Rodriguez was reported missing a Pink Alert was issued, allowing law enforcement to expedite their investigation. Pink Alerts are the result of a new law in Puerto Rico that allows for missing person cases to be fast-tracked if the missing person is a woman and a suspected victim of domestic violence.

That law was made in response to Puerto Rico’s alarming rate for femicides. In January the U.S. Territory declared a State of Emergency over its high rate of deadly violence against women and transgender people.

Gender violence in Puerto Rico has been of concern for almost a decade. In 2012 the American Civil Liberties Union released a report showing that Puerto Rico’s per capita rate of women over the age of 14 being killed by their partners was higher than anywhere else in the world.

Boxer Félix Verdejo charged with killing pregnant woman whose body was found in a lagoon

The Washington Post 03 May, 2021 - 06:31am

Rodríguez, 27, did not show up to work that day. Two days later, her lifeless body was found in a lagoon in San Juan.

On Sunday, Verdejo, 27, turned himself in to the FBI to face charges that he kidnapped and killed Rodríguez. The authorities say the boxer punched Rodríguez and that she was injected with a syringe full of unknown “substances” before her death, and then thrown off a bridge.

Verdejo did not immediately respond to a message from The Washington Post late Sunday. Court records do not list an attorney representing him as of early Monday.

Rodríguez’s killing has sparked protests in Puerto Rico and an avalanche of social media posts denouncing violence against women, which has been so rampant on the island that in January, Gov. Pedro Pierluisi declared a state of emergency over the issue. Last year, 60 people were killed because of their gender, according to the Observatory of Gender Equality of Puerto Rico.

Rodríguez’s death also came days after the body of another woman was found partially burned. The victim, Andrea Ruiz Costas, had filed a gender violence complaint against her partner in March, but a judge dismissed the case, local media reported. Her partner has since been charged with murder.

Verdejo, who is married, had kept in touch with Rodríguez since they met in middle school, her parents told local media. She worked at a pet grooming business and owned two cats and two dogs, Ortiz Rivera told El Nuevo Día. She was so passionate about animals that whenever she was not at work, she could usually be found rescuing and leaving food for stray animals.

Verdejo rose to fame in 2012 when he represented Puerto Rico at the London Olympics and then became a professional boxer in the lightweight division. In 2016, he suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident that left him hospitalized and paused his career. According to Top Rank, a boxing promotion company based in Las Vegas that listed Verdejo as one of its fighters, his boxing record is 27-2, with 17 knockouts. A representative with Top Rank did not immediately respond to a message from The Post late on Sunday.

Ortiz Rivera had a reason to worry when around 7 a.m. on Thursday, her daughter shared she was meeting Verdejo to discuss her pregnancy, she said.

“He had threatened her before to not have the baby, to get an abortion [because] he has his family, he is a boxer [and] a public figure,” Ortiz Rivera told El Nuevo Día in Spanish.

About two hours later, Ortiz Rivera received a call from her other daughter informing her Rodríguez didn’t go to work that day. Ortiz Rivera, who lives in Orlando, boarded a plane to Puerto Rico that same day and reported her daughter missing, she said. Later that evening, authorities issued a missing person alert.

According to a witness who later cooperated with authorities, Verdejo contacted the witness on April 27 and “requested his help to terminate the pregnancy.” He allegedly told the witness that Rodríguez was pregnant with his child.

Then on Thursday, the complaint states, Verdejo contacted Rodríguez and arranged to meet near her house. Rodríguez walked into Verdejo’s car and moments later, he allegedly punched her in the face. Then “she was injected with a syringe filled with substances,” court records state. Verdejo and the witness allegedly tied her arms and feet with wire before attaching a block to her body.

At that point, the witness said he took Rodríguez’s keys and drove her sedan to the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge, which spans the San Jose Lagoon between San Juan and Carolina, Puerto Rico.

Verdejo met the witness at the bridge, court records state, and Rodríguez’s body was dumped into the lagoon. Then, Verdejo allegedly shot at the victim with a pistol from the bridge. Her car was abandoned and found the next day by Puerto Rico’s Police Bureau.

According to the complaint, cellphone and location data corroborated the witness’s claims and showed Verdejo was near Rodríguez on Thursday. Surveillance camera footage of the Teodoro Moscoso Bridge reviewed by the FBI also showed a dark SUV that matched Verdejo’s car parking on the emergency lane of the bridge around 8:30 a.m. that day.

On Sunday, authorities announced they had identified Rodríguez’s body through dental records. Her autopsy has been completed, but her cause of death has not yet been released.

Hundreds of protesters gathered on Sunday at Teodoro Moscoso Bridge, demanding an end to gender violence on the island. Rodríguez’s sister, Bereliz Nichole Rodríguez, dressed in her sister’s work clothes, stood in the middle of the bridge and held a photo in memory of her.

“I’m a part of her,” Bereliz Nichole said told El Nuevo Día. “I’m even dressed as her. [I want] justice to be made.”

Hours later, Verdejo turned himself in to local authorities. Verdejo previously declined to answer any questions when interviewed by detectives, local media reported.

Outside a federal court on Sunday, Rodríguez’s mother held a sign with her daughter’s photo reading in Spanish, “Her name is Keishla and we want her alive.” She told reporters that justice for her daughter and her unborn child is just beginning.

“Verdejo is a murderer. … The diamond is my daughter,” Ortiz Rivera said referencing Verdejo’s nickname, “El Diamante.”

She added, “I know God is going to help me to do justice for my daughter and my grandson.”

Court records do not indicate when Verdejo is due in court.

Puerto Rican boxer turns himself in after lover found dead

Fox News 03 May, 2021 - 01:18am

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Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo turned himself in to authorities on Sunday evening and is facing charges of killing his pregnant lover after her body washed up in a lagoon over the weekend, officials said.

The body of Keishla Rodríguez, 27, was found near San Juan Saturday, and was identified by dental records, the Institute of Forensic Science in Puerto Rico, said on Sunday.

Verdejo, a Lightweight boxer, is accused of punching Rodríguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex, according to a criminal complaint filed by the FBI. 

He allegedly bound Rodríguez's arms and feet with wire and tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge Thursday. Verdejo then shot at Rodríguez's body while standing on the bridge, the complaint stated. The complaint alleged that an unidentified witness helped Verdejo bind and kill Rodriguez.

Verdejo, 27, is facing charges of kidnapping resulting in death, carjacking resulting in death, and killing an unborn child, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office on Sunday. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death. 

He was identified by authorities as a person of interest in her disappearance and was seen walking out of the San Juan Criminal Investigation Corps headquarters on Friday, reports said. Capt. Luis Díaz Muñoz of the San Juan criminal investigation corps told the El Nuevo Día on Friday that Verdejo was not cooperating with investigators.

The Rodríguez family added that she was pregnant with Verdejo’s child.

Keila Ortiz, the victim’s mother, told reporters that her daughter called before she vanished on Thursday. Ortiz said her daughter 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 threatened her not to have the baby, that he had his family, that he is a boxer, that he is a public figure," Ortiz told reporters.

Verdejo is married and has a young daughter but had known Rodríguez since middle school and has kept in touch with her, her parents said. They reported her missing after she didn't show up for her job at an animal grooming business.

Verdejo (27-2, 17 knockouts) represented Puerto Rico at the Olympics in 2012, the same year he became a professional boxer competing in the lightweight division. His career was temporarily sidetracked after a 2016 motorcycle accident that put him in the hospital.

Top Rank, a boxing promotion company in Las Vegas, which has promoted Verdejo, released a statement on Saturday. 

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

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. 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.

Verdejo is expected to make his initial court appearance on Monday, a spokeswoman for the FBI told the New York Times. 

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Boxer Felix Verdejo charged in horrifying kidnapping, death of pregnant lover

Yahoo Sports 03 May, 2021 - 12:45am

Dan Wetzel, Pat Forde, Pete Thamel

Verdejo turned himself into federal agents in San Juan after the body of 27-year-old Keishla Rodriguez was found in a Puerto Rico lagoon. Rodriguez had been reported missing two days prior to her body being discovered in the U.S. territory.

The U.S. Attorney's Office announced late Sunday that Verdejo is charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child, according to the Associated Press. The charges carry a maximum penalty of death.

A complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo of abducting Rodriguez, punching her in the face and injecting her via syringe with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex. Verdejo then bound her hands and feet with heavy wire, tied her to a heavy block and threw her over a bridge into a lagoon at 8:30 a.m. on Thursday, according to the complaint. Officials say that Verdejo then fired multiple shots at her body.

According to the FBI complaint, a person claiming to be an an accomplice contacted them. The person says that Verdejo asked for "his help to terminate the pregnancy." That person says that he helped Verdejo bind Rodriguez and throw her over the bridge.

Rodriguez's body was found Saturday and identified on Sunday via dental records.

Rodriguez's mother Keila Ortiz told reporters that she last heard from her daughter on Thursday when she was on her way to to meet Verdejo at her home to show him the results of a pregnancy test. Verdejo, 27, is married to another woman and has a daughter.  

Verdejo, 27, knew Rodriguez from middle school and maintained a relationship with her, according to Rodriguez's parents. Her mother told reporters he had warned her not to have his baby. 

“I told her ‘Be careful’ because he had threatened her not to have the baby, that he had his family, that he is a boxer, that he is a public figure,” Ortiz told reporters.

Rodriguez was reported missing when she didn't show up to her job at a pet grooming business on Thursday.

Verdego turned himself into authorities hours after Rodriguez's body was identified on Sunday.

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Puerto Rican Boxer Turns Himself in After Lover Found Dead

NBC10 Boston 02 May, 2021 - 10:03pm

Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo turned himself in to federal agents Sunday night to face federal charges just hours after authorities identified the body of a dead woman as his 27-year-old pregnant lover, officials said.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said late Sunday that Verdejo was being charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child.

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. It alleges he 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. Thursday.

The complaint states that Verdejo then shot at Rodríguez's body as he stood on the bridge.

The complaint says a witness it did not identify helped Verdejo kidnap and kill Rodríguez.

Rodríguez was found in a lagoon near the U.S. territory's capital Saturday, a couple of days after she was reported missing. She was identified Sunday via 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 pregnant with Verdejo’s child. Keila Ortiz, the victim’s mother, told reporters that her daughter had called her before she vanished Thursday 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.

Verdejo is married and has a young daughter but had known Rodríguez since middle school and kept in touch with her, her parents said. They reported her missing after she didn't show up for her job at an animal grooming business.

Verdejo (27-2, 17 knockouts) represented Puerto Rico at the Olympics in 2012, the same year he became a professional boxer competing in the lightweight division. His career was temporarily sidetracked after a 2016 motorcycle accident that put him in the hospital.

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. 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.

Police say body found in lagoon was Puerto Rican boxer's lover

The Hill 02 May, 2021 - 04:03pm

Her body was found in a lagoon in San Juan the next day.

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Verdejo charged after body of woman found

ESPN 02 May, 2021 - 03:31pm

The body of Keishla Rodriguez, who was pregnant at the time of her death, was found a couple of days after she was reported missing. She was identified Sunday via dental records, Puerto Rico's Institute of Forensic Science said in a statement.

The U.S. Attorney's Office said late Sunday that Verdejo was being charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in death and with intentionally killing an unborn child. Verdejo turned himself in to federal agents Sunday night.

A criminal complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo of punching Rodriguez in the face and injecting her with a syringe filled with an unidentified substance bought at a public housing complex. It alleges that he 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. Thursday.

The complaint states that Verdejo then shot at Rodriguez's body as he stood on the bridge. The complaint says a witness it did not identify helped Verdejo kidnap and kill Rodriguez.

Verdejo and his attorneys previously declined comment, and police said the boxer did not originally cooperate and refused to answer questions.

Top Rank, which has promoted Verdejo, 27, since he turned pro in 2012, released a statement on the situation on Saturday.

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

As of Sunday night, Verdejo's fighter page was no longer on the Top Rank website. A representative for Top Rank, reached Sunday night, referred to the statement the promotion released Saturday and had no further comment.

Rodriguez's family has said she was pregnant with Verdejo's child. Keila Ortiz, the woman's mother, told reporters that her daughter had called her before she vanished Thursday and told her 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" and told her not to have the baby, mentioning his career and family, she said.

Verdejo is married, but he had known Rodriguez since middle school and had kept in touch with her, her parents said. They reported her missing after she didn't show up to work at an animal grooming business.

Verdejo (27-2, 17 KOs) is a former Olympian who represented Puerto Rico in 2012. His professional career was temporarily sidetracked after he was hospitalized following a motorcycle crash in 2016.

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. A Superior Court judge has announced an investigation into that decision.

Hundreds of people gathered Sunday at a bridge that crosses the lagoon where Rodriguez's body was found to demand justice for her and other women killed, with some throwing flowers into the water below.

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