(CNN Spanish) –– Colombian authorities are investigating the murder of 23-year-old Valentina Trespalacios, for which her boyfriend John Poulos was arrested in Panama when he was about to travel to Istanbul, the National Police reported after receiving an alert from Interpol.
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. He immediately notified the authorities, who confirmed that the body was that of Trespalacios, a well-known electronic music DJ. The Metropolitan Police officers at the crime scene contacted her relatives, who confirmed that the young woman had been with her boyfriend, a US citizen, since Saturday, January 21.
Preliminary forensic examinations 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 the Bogotá Metropolitan Police, in coordination with the Office of the Attorney General of the Nation, the criminal investigators will be in charge of looking for probative material elements and information to establish the person or persons responsible for the death of this young woman. that was found abandoned in a sector of the town of Fontibón,” Brigadier General Carlos Fernando Triana, commander of the Bogota Metropolitan Police, told CNN.
Triana also stated that “a reward of up to 20 million pesos (the equivalent of about 4,500 dollars) is being offered for information that allows the crime to be clarified.”
Investigators contacted the Panama Police, where Poulos had traveled on Sunday who, according to statements by the victim’s relatives to local media, had arrived in the country with the intention of starting a life with her.
This Tuesday night, the National Police of Panama reported the capture of Poulos at the Tocumen international airport. The Colombian authorities are now beginning the procedures for his deportation to the country, with the aim of answering the multiple questions about the circumstances of time, manner and place in which the death of Trespalacios occurred.
CNN does not know if the detainee has legal representation.
“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. I can’t believe her boyfriend had the heart to end my daughter’s life. He lived in the United States and came to marry her, they were going to share together and do the paperwork,” Laura Hidalgo, the victim’s mother, told local media outside the morgue in Bogotá.
The police and the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office analyze several hours of videos from security cameras of the places where the young woman and her boyfriend were from Friday night until Sunday morning, when she was abandoned in a garbage container. These pieces, plus testimonies from her relatives and WhatsApp chats, are fundamental elements in the investigation.
There are many questions that remain unanswered in this death that shocked the country due to the violence and cruelty with which, according to the authorities, it occurred. If this homicide is classified as a femicide, Colombian criminal law contemplates penalties of up to 50 years in prison for this crime. In 2022, 612 were registered in the country, according to the Colombian Femicide Observatory. A figure that reveals the seriousness of this problem and that was revealed again with the ruthless murder of Valentina Trespalacios.