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This article was published 17/9/2018 (560 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — Adam Anhang's killer pointed in court Monday to the Winnipeg man's widow as one of three people who hired him, describing in chilling detail how Anhang fought for his life on a San Juan street 13 years ago.
Alex Pabon, a drug trafficker known on San Juan streets as El Loco (The Crazy One), said the widow, Aurea Vazquez-Rijos, met with him twice and made it clear she "wanted to kill (Anhang) because he had a fortune." Anhang, a 32-year-old businessman, had an estate worth $24 million and was preparing to divorce his wife.
Vazquez-Rijos is accused of ordering the killing, along with her sister Marcia and a friend, Jose Ferrer Sosa. Pabon said his agreed-upon fee for the killing was $3 million, to be paid in instalments because the widow had other killings she wanted him for.
Listening in court to Pabon’s matter-of-fact description of his son’s murder left Abe Anhang, the victim’s father, visibly shaken. The 80-year-old man left the courthouse for two hours to compose himself after the testimony.
Pabon confessed to Adam Anhang’s murder and was convicted in 2008. But sentencing was delayed until after the jury trial of Vazquez is completed. He is expected to get a reduced sentence in return for co-operating with prosecutors.
Pabon was brought into court Monday in handcuffs and ankle chains. Speaking through a Spanish translator, he said that he first met with Vazquez-Rijos in a restaurant owned by the accused, called the Pink Skirt, which Anhang had purchased for her. He often saw clients there for drug deals.
Referring to Vazquez-Rijos, he said: "She told me to kill the Canadian. When I killed him I should do it as if it were a robbery, that it would look like something real."
Vazquez-Rijos offered to write him a cheque for $5,000 to buy a gun but he refused because it could easily be traced back to him.
"In the robbery I should shoot (Vazquez-Rios) in the shoulder or the leg, and it would look like something real professional."
It was arranged that on the evening of Sept. 22, 2005, Pabon would follow the couple on the street just before midnight as they left a restaurant in Old San Juan, heading for their parked car. They met for dinner to discuss the impending divorce.
The murder took place almost as planned. Pabon followed Anhang and Vazquez-Rijos on a sidewalk across the street. But because he was unable to secure a gun from a friend, he slipped into a restaurant along the way and grabbed a kitchen knife, a pair of rubber gloves and a paper bag.
Pabon had never met Anhang, so at one point along the route, Vazquez-Rijos made a head gesture in her husband’s direction, to indicate to the hit man that he was to be the victim. "She made the signal, ‘that’s the Canadian’," he testified.
"She wanted me to do other jobs for her, to kill other people." — Alex Pabon, the man allegedly hired by Aurea Vazquez-Rijos to kill her husband, Adam Anhang
At a quiet intersection, Pabon approached the couple, holding a cell phone to his ear so as not to arouse suspicion. He confronted Anhang and said in English: "This is a robbery." Anhang responded by punching him in the face, and shouting to his wife: "Run, baby, run!"
Pabon had a piece of cobblestone hidden in a paper bag, and struck Anhang on the side of his head with it, knocking him down. "He fell down and I took out the knife and started stabbing him and stabbing him, like a bat out of hell . . . I stabbed him in the jugular like I was trying to cut off his head. He grabbed the knife and tried to stab me with it. I finished killing him with a cobblestone to his face and stabbed him in different parts of his back."
During the struggle, the killer said he heard someone from an adjacent building shout: "Let him go, you mother----er."
Before leaving the scene, Pabon said he approached Vazquez-Rijos and struck her on the side of her head, as part of the plan to make her seem like an innocent victim. But he was afraid he may have struck her too hard. "I thought I had killed her too," he said.
And the killer made another mistake that was to haunt him later. He forgot to take Anhang’s wallet, which would immediately tip police off that the assault was not in fact a robbery.
Pabon rushed home, showered and threw his bloodied clothes away. Then he called a friend and they drove back together to the scene of the crime to make sure Anhang was dead.
The killer never collected his $3 million bounty.
"How was it to be paid?" asked prosecuting attorney Jennifer Hernandez.
"They were going to pay it in instalments, $100,000, $50,000, over a period of months or years," he replied. "She wanted me to do other jobs for her, to kill other people."
Meanwhile, he would be paid for the Anhang killing once Vazquez-Rijos inherited his estate.
That never happened. Pabon eluded police for more than two years but he never collected a penny. Vazquez-Rijos was indicted for the murder-for-hire in 2008 but she had fled to Italy. She was finally extradited back to Puerto Rico in 2015.
Updated on Monday, September 17, 2018 at 9:10 PM CDT: Fixes pullquote attribution