[UPDATE 5/2/2021 9:37AM ET: Forensics experts in Puerto Rico have confirmed the body discovered in Laguna San Jose has been identified as Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz]
Felix Verdejo remains under investigation regarding a missing woman now feared to be dead.
The Puerto Rican lightweight was previously named as a person of interest in the disappearance of Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz, a 27-year-old woman with whom the boxer had a years-long affair. Rodriguez has been missing since Thursday morning, with concerns that the search has moved from rescue to recovery as she matches the description of a body that was found Saturday afternoon in Laguna San Jose in San Juan.
Reports from multiple news outlets in Puerto Rico indicate that the body has yet to be officially identified due to the victim’s face mangled beyond recognition. Experts from the Instituto de Ciencias Forenses (Institute of Forensics Science) will need to match the dental records in order to determine the identity.
Rodriguez’s family is convinced that the body is in fact Keishla, based on physical similarities and a distinguishing tattoo.
WAPA TV reported on Saturday that a potential accomplice in the case is cooperating with the investigating officers. News came hours after it was learned that video evidence from a camera at Teodoro Moscoco bridge—near the lagoon—revealed a body being discarded from a Dodge Durango, thrown over the bridge and into the water. A blood stain was found on the bridge, as part of evidence collected by authorities along with identifying the vehicle in question.
Police were camped outside the residence of Verdejo’s mother in Caimito for more than two hours in order to search and seize a Dodge Durango owned by the boxer which matches the description of the vehicle in question.
Rodriguez was reportedly last seen heading to Verdejo’s house on Thursday, to inform the boxer that she was one month pregnant with his child. Verdejo refused to speak with Cuerpo de Investigacion Criminales (CIC) officials when initially interviewed on Thursday, requesting the session take place in the presence of his attorney.
Verdejo and his legal team reported to the CIC office in Hato Rey on Friday, though a police spokesperson indicated that Verdejo did not answer any question on the advice of his attorneys.
Authorities urged Verdejo to cooperate with the investigation as recent as Saturday. Eliz Marie Santiago, Verdejo’s wife spoke with police on Friday, admitting to having knowledge of her husband’s affair with Rodriguez.
Bereliz Nichole, Rodriguez’s sister took to social media upon learning that her sibling was missing. Officials in Puerto Rico issued an Alerta Rosa (Pink Alert), an official status from a new bill passed last October to speed up the process in locating missing women due to the disturbingly growing trend of gender violence and feminicide on the island.
Rodriguez’s vehicle—a 2016 Kia Forte—was discovered in Canóvanas, a municipality in the greater San Juan metro area and roughly 20 minutes from the lagoon where a body was discovered on Saturday.
Verdejo (27-2, 17KOs) has not fought since a 9th round knockout loss to Japan’s Masayoshi Nakatani last December in Las Vegas. The 2012 Puerto Rican Olympian has spent the entirety of his eight-plus year career with Top Rank, who remains devastated by the recent and horrific developments in the case.
“Top Rank’s thoughts and prayers are with Keishla Marlen Rodriguez Ortiz’s family and friends, and with all those in mourning,” the company announced in an issued statement on Saturday. “We are deeply disturbed by the news reports, and we will continue to monitor developments in the case as it progresses.”
The investigation remains ongoing. Despite rampant speculation, police have yet to classify Verdejo as a suspect, instead urging the boxer to cooperate far more than has presently been the case.
Jake Donovan is a senior writer for BoxingScene.com. Twitter: @JakeNDaBox