Three Individuals Sentenced to Lengthy Prison Terms for the Carjacking Murder of a College Student in Utuado, Puerto Rico
SAN JUAN, Puerto Rico – Today, federal authorities arrested Felix Verdejo-Sanchez for federal crimes arising from the murder of Keishla Rodriguez Ortiz, announced United States Attorney W. Stephen Muldrow, Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Assistant Special Agent in Charge Felix Alvarado, and Alexis Torres, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Public Safety. The FBI is in charge of the investigation with the close collaboration and support of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.
Specifically, Felix Verdejo-Sanchez was arrested on a federal criminal complaint charging him with: (1) kidnapping resulting in death, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1201; (2) carjacking resulting in death, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 2119(3); and (3) intentionally killing an unborn child, in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 1841, also known as the “Unborn Victims of Violence Act of 2004” or “Laci and Conner’s Law.” The statutory penalties for violations of the kidnapping and carjacking statutes include life imprisonment or the death penalty, and life imprisonment for the intentional killing of an unborn child.
“I commend our partners in the FBI, the Puerto Rico Police Bureau, and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice for their dedicated and tireless efforts that led to the charges and arrest of the defendant,” said United States Attorney Muldrow. “We will continue working towards the ending of gender-based violence, and we offer our deepest condolences to the family of the victim.”
“Our hearts go out to the family and friends of the victim,” said Felix Alvarado, Assistant Special Agent in Charge of the FBI San Juan Field Office. “It is important to note that the quick turnaround in this investigation could not have been possible without the amazing efforts of our colleagues of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau’s CIC Division,” ASAC Alvarado added.
“Puerto Rico mourns Keishla Rodríguez's death. Our deepest condolences to her family and friends. The Puerto Rico Police Bureau and the federal agencies have worked long hours collaborating as a team to solve this cold murder expeditiously. Our police officers' dedication, passion and experience were essential in solving this murder in 48 hours. It demonstrates how the collaboration of efforts is essential for our public safety. We'll keep on working together and we will seek justice for Keishla,” said Alexis Torres, Secretary of the Department of Public Safety.
“We are proud of the work done by each of the Justice Department prosecutors, who worked day and night together with the team of the Puerto Rico Police Bureau and the Institute of Forensic Sciences to gather all the pieces that allow the prosecution of those responsible for the crime. We trust that the work of our prosecutors in this case will begin to restore the people's trust in justice,” said Domingo Emanuelli, Secretary of the Puerto Rico Department of Justice.
“I congratulate the policemen, prosecutors and forensic sciences personnel, who, as a single team, tirelessly and with the greatest of commitments, put their hearts to solve Keishla's case in an agile and precise way. Our commitment to her family, from day one, was to do justice to Keishla and we have already begun to do so,” said Antonio López, Puerto Rico Police Bureau Commissioner.
As noted above, the FBI and U.S. Attorney’s Office worked in close collaboration with the Puerto Rico Police Bureau and the Puerto Rico Department of Justice in this case. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Jonathan Gottfried, Chief of the Violent Crimes and National Security Section at the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
The public is reminded that criminal complaints and indictments contain only charges and are not evidence of guilt. Defendants are presumed to be innocent until and unless proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.