Arrest in 2005 murder of former Winnipegger in Puerto Rico

Adam Anhang

WINNIPEG — Abe and Barbara Anhang say they may finally see justice after the June 20 arrest in Spain of the woman accused of orchestrating the murder of their son in Puerto Rico almost eight years ago.

The accused mastermind behind Adam Anhang’s murder was his estranged wife, Aurea Vazquez Rijos.

Adam, who was 32 at the time of his death, had at a young age become a wealthy real estate investor who developed beachfront condominiums and hotels in Puerto Rico and was CEO of an online gambling software company based in Costa Rica.

His estate at the time of his murder was estimated to be worth at much as $25 million.

He had moved to Puerto Rico a year earlier and had married Vazquez Rijos a few months before that. Police allege the motive for the murder was the couple’s impending divorce just six months after their wedding,

“We are very pleased with the work of the FBI and the U.S. Attorney General’s office for tracking her down after all these years,” said Abe Anhang, a prominent member of Winnipeg’s Orthodox Jewish community. “They did an incredible job.”

A U.S. grand jury charged Vazquez Rijos in 2008 with offering a man $3 million to kill her husband. Anhang was beaten and stabbed to death in a popular tourist district of the Puerto Rican capital in September 2005 as he walked with Vazquez Rijos. She was slightly injured in the attack.

According to the 2008 indictment, she had offered Alex Pabon Colon money and lured Anhang to the tourist district the night of his death. The attacker was indicted in June 2008. The indictment also named Vazquez Rijos’ sister and brother-in-law as co-conspirators. They are currently in jail in Puerto Rico.

Following the indictment, Vazquez Rijos fled to Italy. But because Italy doesn’t extradite murder suspects who face the death penalty, she was able to live openly and freely there, and she subsequently gave birth to twins by an Italian man.

The opportunity to arrest Vazquez Rijos came when she decided to leave the safety of Italy for holiday travel in Europe.

“I don’t know why she would leave her sanctuary for a vacation,” Anhang said. “She must have known that there was a warrant out for her arrest.”

Vazquez Rijos was taken into custody at the airport in Madrid and is in jail facing extradition to Puerto Rico.

The arrest was the result of a joint effort between the FBI, the U.S. Attorney General’s Office in Puerto Rico, Spanish police, Interpol and the U.S. Department of Justice.

The extradition process from Spain could take from six to nine months.

“It was good police work,” Anhang said. "We were very relieved and pleased, because we think justice will now be done. But you never get over losing a child.”