December 12, 2018

Winnipeg
-4° C, Overcast

Full Forecast

Puerto Rico jury convicts 'black widow' in slaying of former Winnipegger

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO -- A jury on Wednesday found the widow of Winnipeg-born Adam Anhang guilty of plotting his murder in a sensational kill-for-hire case that seized the imagination of residents of this island for more than a decade.

“We’re all relieved,” Abe Anhang, the victim’s 80-year-old father, said after the verdict against Aurea Vazquez-Rijos was handed down. “We’ve been waiting for this day for 14 years.”

The elder Anhang has been pursuing those responsible for his son’s death since 2005, when Adam Anhang was found bludgeoned and stabbed on an Old San Juan street. Adam Anhang was a real estate developer involved in a number of hotel and resort projects.

“My son would be 45 years of age today. And if he had lived he could have been one of the people who would help your economy forward. And that’s the tragedy of it all for all of us.”

Get the full story.
No credit card required. Cancel anytime.

Join free for 30 days

After that, pay as little as $0.99 per month for the best local news coverage in Manitoba.

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Join free for 30 days

 

Already a subscriber?

Log in

Subscribers Log in below to continue reading,
not a subscriber? Create an account to start a 30 day free trial.

Log in Create your account

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

Your free trial has come to an end.

We hope you have enjoyed your trial! To continue reading, we recommend our Read Now Pay Later membership. Simply add a form of payment and pay only 27¢ per article.

For unlimited access to the best local, national, and international news and much more, try an All Access Digital subscription:

Thank you for supporting the journalism that our community needs!

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Mon to Sat Delivery

Pay

$34.36

per month

  • Includes all benefits of All Access Digital
  • 6-day delivery of our award-winning newspaper
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

We hope you have enjoyed your free trial!

To continue reading, select a plan below:

Read Now Pay Later

Pay

27¢

per article

  • Commitment-free
  • Cancel anytime
  • Only pay for what you read
  • Refunds available
Continue

All Access Digital

Introductory pricing*

99¢

per month

  • Unlimited online reading and commenting
  • Daily newspaper replica e-Edition
  • News Break - our award-winning iOS app
  • Exclusive perks & discounts
Continue

*Introductory pricing schedule for 12 month: $0.99/month plus tax for first 3 months, $5.99/month for months 4 - 6, $10.99/month for months 7 - 9, $13.99/month for months 10 - 12. Standard All Access Digital rate of $16.99/month begins after first year.

SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO — A jury on Wednesday found the widow of Winnipeg-born Adam Anhang guilty of plotting his murder in a sensational kill-for-hire case that seized the imagination of residents of this island for more than a decade.

"We’re all relieved," Abe Anhang, the victim’s 80-year-old father, said after the verdict against Aurea Vazquez-Rijos was handed down. "We’ve been waiting for this day for 14 years."

The elder Anhang has been pursuing those responsible for his son’s death since 2005, when Adam Anhang was found bludgeoned and stabbed on an Old San Juan street. Adam Anhang was a real estate developer involved in a number of hotel and resort projects.

"My son would be 45 years of age today. And if he had lived he could have been one of the people who would help your economy forward. And that’s the tragedy of it all for all of us."

The jury deliberated 10 hours before reaching its verdict against Vazquez-Rijos and two co-conspirators, her sister Marcia and boyfriend Jose Ferrer Sosa. They promised a hit man $3 million to kill Anhang and make it look like a robbery. His wife was by his side during the midnight attack, but she did not scream for help, flee or try to stop the killer.

Aurea Vazquez Rijos (Carlos Giusti/El Vocero via AP)</p>

Aurea Vazquez Rijos (Carlos Giusti/El Vocero via AP)

She was worried that an impending divorce would cut her off from Anhang’s multi-million-dollar estate.

When the verdict was announced Wednesday, Vazquez-Rijos, a one-time beauty contestant, took two deep breaths but otherwise stared fixedly ahead. Marcia Vazquez-Rijos dissolved in tears. And Ferrer Sosa looked quizzically at his defence lawyer.

All three face a maximum of life imprisonment. A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 29, 2019.

As he left the courthouse, Abe Anhang walked into a crush of local media, and he said he always felt that Vazquez-Rijos was guilty. "I was never uncertain about that," he said.

However, there were many diversions on the road to today’s verdict, and Anhang was involved in most of them. He once told an American interviewer: "Whoever did this, did they ever think I wouldn’t come after them?"

In 2007, a jury convicted a 22-year-old dishwasher, Jonathan Roman, for the killing and sentenced him to 105 years in prison. But Abe Anhang knew something was wrong. For one thing, prosecutors never established a motive for Roman to kill Adam. And there was another matter: while reviewing his son’s telephone bills, Abe noticed a flurry of telephone calls that Vazquez-Rijos had made in the hours before Adam’s death.

Adam Anhang

CNS

Adam Anhang

He flew to San Juan and met with the FBI director there, convincing him to have the agency open a new investigation. And in 2008, police made a major breakthrough: they arrested the real killer, drug dealer Alex "El Loco" Pabon. Pabon made a deal with authorities for a reduced sentence, and in return he confessed that he’d been hired by Vazquez-Rijos, her sister and Ferrer Sosa to kill "the Canadian" and make it look like a robbery. Authorities released Roman, and issued a conspiracy indictment against the trio.

But it was too late to catch the main plotter, the widow. Vazquez-Rijos was in Italy, looking for sanctuary from extradition. She met a man, and in what prosecutors believe was part of a long-term plan, gave birth to twin daughters. She was hoping that Italian police would never arrest a widow with two young girls.

That led to another intervention by the elder Anhang. He had hired an Italian detective to track her movements. Now he flew to Florence, where Vazquez-Rijos was living under the care of that city’s small Jewish community, and he told community leaders all about the evidence pointing to her guilt. Anhang also met with Italian journalists, and newspaper stories began appearing about the "Black Widow."

Vazquez-Rijos, working as a travel agent, was feeling the heat. At her trial, she said she felt "persecuted and scared"—presumably by Anhang’s determination to bring her to justice. So she started looking for other means of escape. She contacted a high-profile Israeli lawyer and inquired about Israel’s extradition laws.

Her flight from justice ended in 2013, when Vazquez-Rijos was arrested in Spain in an FBI sting operation. The Spanish government agreed to her extradition in 2015 when U.S. authorities agreed not to seek the death penalty in her case. She was brought back to Puerto Rico for trial.

For Abe Anhang, an end to his long pursuit came on Wednesday.

city.desk@freepress.mb.ca

You can comment on most stories on The Winnipeg Free Press website. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press print or digital subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to The Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective January 2015.