Puerto Rican boxer held without bail after lover found dead

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Jose Antonio Rodriguez, the father of 27-year-old Keishla Rodriguez, leaves the San Jose Lagoon after authorities found her remains there in San Juan, Puerto Rico, Saturday, May 1, 2021. A federal judge on Monday ordered Puerto Rican boxer Flix Verdejo held without bail after he was charged in the death of Rodriguez, his pregnant lover whose body was found in the lagoon. (AP Photo/Carlos Giusti)

SAN JUAN – A federal judge on Monday ordered Puerto Rican boxer Félix Verdejo held without bail after he was charged in the death of his 27-year-old pregnant lover whose body was found in a lagoon.

Verdejo is charged with kidnapping and carjacking resulting in the death of Keishla Rodríguez and with intentionally killing an unborn child. He did not make any comments during Monday's virtual hearing in which he relied on a translator.

“This is a death penalty-eligible case,” said Judge Camille Vélez.

A criminal complaint filed by the FBI accuses Verdejo of punching 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, tied a heavy block to her before throwing her off a bridge at 8:30 a.m. Thursday and then shot at her body.

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

The U.S. government has 30 days to present the case to a federal grand jury; meanwhile, a date for Verdejo's next hearing has yet to be announced.

Rodríguez, who was reported missing on Thursday after she didn’t show up for her job at an animal grooming business, was found in a lagoon near the U.S. territory's capital on Saturday. Officials identified her Sunday via dental records.

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