Murder of Adam Anhang
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Adam Anhang Uster (March 8, 1973 – September 23, 2005) was a businessman and founder of an Online gambling enterprise; he was murdered at the intersection of Calle San Justo and Calle Luna in Old San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 2005. He was leaving the Pink Skirt Nightclub/Dragonfly Club with his estranged wife, Áurea Vázquez-Rijos, from whom he was finalizing a divorce, and was knifed and beaten to death on the street. The event was highlighted as the Pink Skirt Murder in a television expose on Dateline NBC. Ms Vázquez-Rijos who had only been married to Mr Anhang for six months suffered minor injuries during the attack.
Anhang, who had been born in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, had graduated from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. He became the chief financial officer of an internet gambling site, Dr. Ho and chief executive officer of CWC Gaming (founded 2003). He had become an investor in properties in the Caribbean, including part-owner in the Martineau Bay Resort (a former Wyndham Hotels & Resorts property) in Vieques, Puerto Rico.
Investigation and Prosecution of Murder
The investigation and prosecution of those guilty of Anhang's murder has not been straightforward. Jonathan Roman Rivera, a 22 year old worker at the restaurant, was initially arrested for the murder of Anhang, convicted, and sentenced to 105 years by a local Puerto Rican courts. He had worked as a dishwasher at the Pink Skirt restaurant. The restaurant and nightclub had been bought by Adam for his wife, and Roman Rivera knew Vázquez-Rijos's family. It was suspected at the time that Ms Vázquez-Rijos was involved in her estranged husband's murder; the motive was that she stood to gain more financially from the death of her husband, to whom she had only been married for six months, than from the divorce. It was suspected that she bankrolled Roman's legal bills, since she had been represented by the same attorney. She fled jurisdiction to Italy by 2008.
In a stunning turn of events, after Roman's conviction, a subsequent independent FBI investigation exonerated Roman of the murder, and instead indicted Alex Pabón Colón as the murderer. Vázquez-Rijos was indicted for the criminal use of interstate commerce facilities in the commission of murder-for-hire. According to the June 4, 2008 indictment, Vázquez offered Pabón three million dollars to murder her husband and, on the fatal night, lured her husband to an agreed-upon spot in Old San Juan, where Pabón killed him. Pabón has pled guilty to the murder and is cooperating with authorities.
The trial of Áurea Vázquez-Rijos has been stalled because of reluctance of Italy to extradite individuals facing murder charges to countries who adjudicate the death penalty. This reasoning has been applied to Ms Vázquez-Rijos, despite the fact she is not indicted in a capital case. Capital punishment in Puerto Rico is forbidden by law.
Since her flight, Ms Vázquez-Rijos became pregnant, and Italy bars the extradition of the mothers of Italian children. Jonathan Roman was released and has sued the police and prosecutors for 12 million dollars.
Despite being a fugitive, in 2006 she sued in federal court the parents of Adam Anhang, claiming she had been cheated from inheriting from his estate. However, in Áurea Vázquez-Rijos v. Abraham Anhang and Barbara Anhang, the US Federal court of appeals upheld a lower court verdict dismissing Ms. Vázquez-Rijos claims to the estate due to failure to appear for second deposition, and noting that she had been indicted for involvement in the murder of her husband.
On June 30, 2013, the Spanish National Police (SNP) arrested fugitive Aurea Vazquez-Rijos in Madrid, Spain. She was taken into custody as she was getting off a flight from Italy for a business trip in Spain where she would work as a tour guide. The FBI said the extradition process from Spain could take between six and nine months. The agency said the arrest of the Puerto Rican fugitive was the result of a joint effort between the FBI's legal attaches, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Puerto Rico, Spanish police, Interpol and U.S. Department of Justice. Aurea Vazquez's sister and her former husband have also been charged and arrested in Puerto Rico in connection with Adam Anhang's murder.
Ms Vázquez-Rijos has still not faced trial in American jurisdiction. The parents of Adam Anhang continue to lobby for her extradition. This case also highlights the checkered recent record of the Puerto Rico Police and Justice system.
- Adams, Claude (March 26, 2014). "Father awaits justice in son’s 2005 murder in Puerto Rico". globalnews.ca. Global News. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- Dateline program
- Initial News item on murder.
- Reuters news article on indictments of Vázquez-Rijos and Pabón Colón.
- Lawyer for Jonathan Roman.
- Widow charged in 2005 murder of Canadian investor, Reuters article.
- Other Americans Italy Should Send Home , letter by Adam Anhang's father on the failure of Italy to extradite Vázquez-Rijos.
- News item on Roman lawsuit.
- "Puerto Rican admits to killing Canadian". canada.com/edmontonjournal. Edmonton Journal. June 14, 2008. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- Quiñones, Moises (June 30, 2013). "Fugitive Aurea Vazquez-Rijos Arrested in Madrid, Spain". fbi.gov. Federal Bureau of Investigation. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- Letter in Huffingtonpost by Adam's father
- Vicens, AJ (October 29, 2012). "A Department of Justice Report on the Puerto Rico Police Department Reveals an 'Agency in Profound Disrepair'". cronkite.asu.edu. Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Retrieved November 12, 2014.
- "Justice Department enters into agreement to reform the Puerto Rico Police Department". justice.gov. United States Department of Justice. December 21, 2012. Retrieved November 12, 2014.