She'll Serve Life for the Murder of Her Millionaire Husband

Aurea Vazquez Rijos was sentenced Friday
By Kate Seamons,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 20, 2019 1:37 PM CDT

(Newser) – Wedded bliss it was not. Adam Anhang, a 32-year-old Canadian millionaire, had moved to Puerto Rico in the early 2000s intending to try his hand at property development there. The Wharton School of Business grad, who had an estimated $24 million fortune thanks in part to an online gaming company, started dating Aurea Vazquez Rijos, a former Miss Puerto Rico Petite. The two married in early 2005; six months later, he wanted a divorce. On the evening of Sept. 22, 2005, Anhang was stabbed to death after having dinner with his wife in the Old San Juan district; Vazquez Rijos sustained only cuts and bruises. On Friday, the 38-year-old learned she will spend the rest of her life in prison for ordering his murder. The story:

  • The Washington Post reports that soon after the couple began dating, Vazquez Rijos told him she was pregnant and that her Catholic faith demanded they marry. They did, except there was no pregnancy, a friend of Anhang's recounted to Dateline in 2008. Anhang felt tricked and within months he wanted out. Twelve hours after he told her so he was dead, following dinner the two had together.
  • Jonathan Roman Rivera, a 22-year-old dishwasher, was arrested in what appeared to be a robbery gone wrong and handed a 105-year sentence. But Anhang's family was skeptical. The killer didn't rob Anhang of his money and no evidence tied Roman Rivera to the murder. But Vazquez Rijos, they thought, had a motive: She would have gotten no more than $360,000 under the couple's prenup; after Anhang's death, she sued his family for a $9 million slice of his estate, reports the AP.

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  • Anhang's father went to the FBI with his concerns and pursued the case himself: The National Post reported in the initial two years after his son's death, the former lawyer made 23 trips to Puerto Rico, switching hotel rooms nightly for his own safety.
  • The BBC reports the big break came via a witness who reported seeing the attacker—after ferociously attacking Anhang—talk to Vazquez Rijos before inflicting only mild harm on her. Authorities ultimately tracked down Alex Pabon Colon, a drug dealer who admitted killing Anhang at Vazquez Rijos's request in exchange for a promised $3 million that Vazquez Rijos never paid him. He pleaded guilty, Roman Rivera was freed, and Vazquez Riojos was indicted. That was 2008—and Vazquez Rijos was already gone.
  • The Post reports the Anhangs' private investigator tracked her to Italy, a home ostensibly chosen because the country doesn't extradite to the US if the suspect is facing the death penalty. She subsequently gave birth to twin girls fathered by an Italian, making it seem even less likely she'd be extradited. (As for the money she wanted from Anhang's family, the Free Press previously reported she never appeared in a Puerto Rico court to argue her claim so the case was dismissed.)
  • It was another five years before she was trapped: American law enforcement working with their Spanish counterparts pretended to be a Spanish travel agency with a job offer for her. She flew to Madrid on June 30, 2013, and was arrested at baggage claim. But there was one more twist: She became pregnant in a Spanish prison by way of a male inmate and then fought extradition on the grounds that she had birthed a Spanish child. After two years of legal wrangling and a promise not to seek the death penalty, she was delivered to the US, and the trial commenced in Puerto Rico in August 2018; she was found guilty in October.
  • Things got heated in court on Friday. The Winnipeg Free Press describes an "electrifying exchange" before the sentence was handed down. Vasquez-Rijos addressed Anhang's 80-year-old father, Abe, saying, "I hope you're happy now." He replied, "Shut up!" and is described as being "visibly shaken."
  • The AP reports Vazquez Rijos cried as the sentence was read. The judge recommended that she serve her time in a Fort Worth, Texas, prison. Her attorneys say they will appeal.
  • Her sister, Marcia Vazquez Rijos, and ex-boyfriend Jose Ferrer Sosa were also found guilty in October and sentenced to life on Friday.
  • The CBC in October quoted Abe Anhang as saying that some of Anhang's last words were for his wife, who he didn't know had set him up. "My son, who was in fear of his own life, I'm afraid, said, 'Run, baby, run!' And she didn't run, she just stayed put."
(This woman was convicted in her boyfriend's kayaking death.)

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