Colombian authorities are investigating the death of 23-year-old Valentina Trespalacios, whose boyfriend, US citizen John Poulos, was detained in Panama earlier this week. He was arrested after an “alert issued by the Republic of Colombia, from Interpol, for the murder of DJ Valentina Trespalacios,” according to the Panamanian National Police.
In the early hours of last Sunday, a recycler found the body of a woman inside a suitcase at the bottom of a garbage container in the southwest of Bogotá, the capital. He notified local authorities, who confirmed that the body was that of Trespalacios, a well-known electronic music DJ.
Agents of the Bogotá Metropolitan Police at the crime scene contacted her relatives, who confirmed that the young woman had been with her boyfriend since Saturday, January 21.
Preliminary forensic examinations carried out by the Institute of Legal Medicine, an agency attached to the Colombian Attorney General’s Office, revealed on Monday that the young woman would have died of mechanical suffocation and that her body showed signs of having been subjected to force before she died.
“Through a special group made up of elements of the Bogota Metropolitan Police, in coordination with the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, criminal investigators will be in charge of searching for material evidence and information to establish the person or persons responsible for the death. of this young woman who was found abandoned in a sector of the Fontibón district,” Brigadier General Carlos Fernando Triana, commander of the Bogotá Metropolitan Police, told CNN.
Triana also said that it offers “a reward of up to 20 million pesos (around US$4,500) for information that leads to the clarification of the crime.”
On Tuesday night, the National Police of Panama reported the arrest of Poulos at the Tocumen International Airport, and the Colombian authorities began the procedures for his deportation to the country, with the hope of clarifying the time, manner and place in which he was deported. produced the death of Trespalacios. It occurred.
Poulos arrived in Bogotá on Thursday, according to police in the Colombian capital.
The Bogotá Security Secretariat has said that Poulos “is in the process of being prosecuted and awaiting a hearing to legalize the capture, imputation and request for a security measure,” and shared images of the suspect in the hands of the authorities.
It is not clear if Poulos has legal representation. According to Miguel Ángel del Río, a lawyer for the Trespalacios family, Poulos did not accept the representation of a public defender and has not hired a private attorney.
“He never showed himself as a bad person… My Valentina was a very smiling and happy young woman. She lived in the world of the rumba (party) scene,” Laura Hidalgo, the victim’s mother, told local media outside the morgue in Bogotá.
“He lived in the United States and came to marry her, they were going to share a life together and do the paperwork for that,” she added.
The Police and the Colombian Attorney General’s Office analyze several hours of security camera videos from the places where the young woman and her boyfriend were from Friday night until Sunday morning, when her body was found.
These data, plus the testimonies of their relatives and WhatsApp chats, will be fundamental elements in the investigation.
There are many questions left unanswered in this death, authorities say. But if Poulos is accused of homicide and the crime is classified as femicide, Colombian criminal law allows up to 50 years in prison.
Femicide is broadly defined as the intentional killing of women for the fact that they are women. According to the World Health Organization, “most cases of feminicide are committed by partners or ex-partners.”
It is a national problem in Colombia, with 612 femicides reported last year alone, according to the Colombian Femicide Observatory.