Áurea Vázquez Rijos will spend the rest of her life in prison

By Steve Helling
March 20, 2019 03:09 PM
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Credit: Carlos Giusti/AP/REX/Shutterstock

A Puerto Rican woman will spend the rest of her life in prison after being convicted of paying a hitman $3 million to kill her wealthy Canadian businessman husband in 2005.

Áurea Vázquez Rijos, a 38-year-old former beauty queen, proclaimed her innocence after a judge recommended she spend the rest of her life in a Fort Worth, Texas, prison for the murder of her husband, Adam Anhang.

“I am innocent and time will prove it,” Vázquez Rijos told the court, according to the BBC. “I lost a man I love. I was murdered. A part of me died.”

A grand jury indicted Vázquez Rijos in 2008 for allegedly offering a hired killer $3 million to murder Anhang, her millionaire husband of six months.

Anhang, a developer with an estimated net worth of $24 million, was attacked as he and Vázquez Rijos walked through Old San Juan, Puerto Rico, allegedly discussing their pending divorce. The Winnipeg native was beaten and stabbed to death in front of the wife, who sustained minor injuries herself.

Three weeks after Anhang’s death, police arrested a 22-year-old restaurant dishwasher named Jonathan Roman Rivera, according to the National Post. Roman Rivera was later convicted of Anhang’s killing and sentenced to 105 years in prison.

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But a subsequent FBI investigation determined Roman Rivera was innocent, and he was exonerated and freed from prison after eight months, The Washington Post reports.

As the FBI interviewed witnesses, they learned that a small-time drug dealer, Alex “El Loco” Pabon Colon had been at the scene. According to the paper, Colon confessed to killing Anhang — and said Vázquez Rijos had agreed to pay him $3 million. He pleaded guilty and agreed to cooperate in the prosecution of Vázquez Rijos.

By then, Vázquez Rijos had fled to Europe. She lived in Italy and Spain for years, and her travels in Europe earned her the moniker of “The Black Widow” in the European press. She had three children while on the run, and spent years fighting extradition to the U.S. and Puerto Rico.

In 2015, she was finally extradited to Puerto Rico to face charges. As a condition of her extradition, Vázquez Rijos will avoid the death penalty.

Vázquez Rijos went to trial last August. According to trial transcripts, witnesses to the crime recounted how after Pabon-Colon stabbed and beat Anhang, Vázquez Rijos had him knock her to the ground to make herself look like a victim.

On Oct. 3, 2018, a jury found Vázquez Rijos guilty of conspiracy to commit murder. On Friday, she was sentenced to life in prison.

“I hope you’re happy now,” she said to Anhang’s father as she was sentenced, according to the BBC. “You lost [a son] but I lost, too.”