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Crime News Dateline

Who Stabbed a Successful Businessman to Death on the Streets of Puerto Rico?

For more than a decade, Abe Anhang was determined to find justice for his son Adam, who was stabbed to death on the cobblestone streets of Old San Juan in 2005.

By Jill Sederstrom

When Adam Anhang bled out on the cobblestone streets of Puerto Rico’s Old San Juan, it began a years-long quest for his heartbroken father. 

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Abe Anhang was determined to bring the people responsible for his 32-year-old son’s death to justice, but his path would be fraught with a wrongful conviction, restrictive extradition policies, and surprise pregnancies that would keep justice at bay for years. 

“I made a resolve then and there, then and there, whoever did this is going to pay for it,” Abe told Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.

Who Was Adam Anhang?

From an early age, Abe and his wife, Barbara, knew their determined son was destined for business. 

“He came to the first day of kindergarten with his briefcase,” Abe said. “I never thought of him as a little boy. He was a little man.” 

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Adam was a creative problem solver who dreamt of making a life for himself outside his Canadian home in Winnipeg. He went to The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, a prestigious institution for business, where he met a close-knit group of friends. 

“He had the biggest heart of anybody that I’ve ever met, whether you needed the friendship [or] you needed the advice. Whatever you needed, he was giving and he was there,” friend Lissette Calderon told Dateline reporter Natalie Morales. 

After graduating from college, Adam got into hotel development. It was that interest that brought him to Puerto Rico in 2002 after a hotel developer wanted Adam’s help to finalize a hotel deal. 

It didn’t take him long to fall in love with the island’s beautiful beaches and the opportunity for growth and development. 

His success — along with his quick wit and kind heart — made him an attractive prospect for the opposite sex, but there was one woman in particular that caught his eye.

A photo of Adam Anhag, featured on Dateline: Secrets Uncovered 1130

Aurea Vazquez Rijos was a former beauty queen and 23-year-old widow, according to The Global News, who met Adam at a party. The sparks between the pair quickly flew.

With the relationship underway, Adam bought Rijos her own restaurant that she called Pink Skirt.

When Rijos announced she was pregnant, Adam felt pressured by her family and the pair quietly married in March 2005 — but Adam soon learned that the pregnancy had been a ruse.

“He came to realize quickly that it was all about the money and the prestige of being with him,” friend Mike Waller told Dateline: Secrets Uncovered.

Who Killed Adam Ahang?

Within months, the marriage was falling apart and Adam became fearful of his new bride. He moved into his own apartment, hired a bodyguard, and began divorce proceedings.

But on one September 2005 evening, Adam agreed to have dinner with Rijos in the hopes of finalizing their divorce. He gave his bodyguard the night off in an effort to have the evening go more smoothly. 

As the couple walked back to the car after dinner just before midnight, a man snuck out of the shadows with a knife and a loose brick from the cobblestone streets.

“Run, baby, run!” Adam screamed to Rijos as he was stabbed to death.

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Rijos, who had injuries to her leg and head, was taken to a hospital and survived. Her husband did not.

Initially investigators believed it could be a robbery. But Old San Juan was a safe part of town and nothing was taken from Adam during the brazen attack.

Witnesses had described the attacker as a tall, heavyset man who fled in the direction of the La Perla neighborhood, a depressed area of town. When a detective went to Pink Skirt to talk to Rijos a few weeks after the attack, he noticed a man that seemed to fit the witness description.

Twenty-two-year-old dishwasher Jonathan Roman was arrested when he refused to answer questions about the attack. An eyewitness also picked him out of a line up and Roman — who had no previous criminal history — was convicted of the murder in 2007.

How Aurea Vazquez Rijos Was Caught

But Abe never felt like authorities had the right man and didn’t believe the attack on his son was random. He took to the streets of San Juan and began talking to people who had known his son. 

With Adam dead, Rijos stood to benefit financially. According to his will, she could have received $8 million. If the couple had divorced, she would have received much less support. 

Abe believed his former  daughter-in-law may have had a hand in Adam’s murder and turned to the FBI with his suspicions. They agreed to look into the case.

 

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During their investigation, they discovered another suspect, Alex “El Loco” Pabon. During Roman’s trial, a defense witness testified she saw the murder and recognized the killer, identifying him as a man named “Alex,” not Roman. 

When FBI agents confronted Pabon, an admitted drug dealer, he ultimately confessed to killing Adam.

What’s more, he told authorities he had been hired by Rijos for a hefty fee of $3 million to carry out the hit. Pabon said the plot had also included Rijos’ sister Marcia Vazquez Rijos and Marcia’s boyfriend at the time, Jose Ferrer Sosa, who helped plan out the attack.

According to Pabon, Rijos had been the one to lure Adam out to dinner and then lead him to the spot where he’d be stabbed to death.

Witnesses reported that when Pabon began to attack, Rijos didn’t scream, never ran, and even had a brief conversation with him before he pushed her to the ground and hurt her just enough to make it look like she had been a target too.

Rijos was indicted in June 2008 on charges of hiring a hitman to kill her husband, but by then, she’d already fled to Italy, a country that will not extradite anyone for a crime where the death penalty could be in play.

“The FBI does not have jurisdiction overseas, so we rely on our partnerships with our foreign law enforcement partners,” special agent Devin Kowalski explained.

In light of the new evidence, Roman was exonerated — but now the challenge became bringing those actually behind his murder to justice. 

 

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As the executor of the will, Abe had refused to pay Rijos anything until the investigation into his son’s death was complete, but even without Adam’s millions, she was able to establish a life for herself and soon had twin girls with a man she met in Italy.

“She had children there, it’s our belief, as a means to justify her citizenship in order to stay there,” Kowalski said. 

Although there was little the FBI could do at the time, as a private citizen Abe was not held to the same restrictions and so he hired private investigators to track Rijos and learn more about her life in Italy. They discovered she was living under a different name and had passed herself off as a Jewish widow, even though she had never officially converted to the religion while in San Juan.

For years, it seemed like Rijos may get away with her crime, until the FBI developed a sting in 2013 to try to lure her from Italy to Spain, a country that had less restrictive extradition policies. Knowing that Rijos worked as a tour guide providing tours for Jewish groups across Europe, they offered her a job opportunity to meet a group of American tourists in Spain and guide them through Europe. 

Rijos agreed, but when she landed in Spain she was immediately taken into custody. The road to justice hit another speed bump, however, after Rijos got pregnant by another inmate while in a Spanish prison.

The pregnancy slowed the extradition process and Adam’s family was forced to wait once again. 

 

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But after she gave birth in the summer of 2015, Rijos was finally extradited to Puerto Rico in the FBI director’s private plane. Her sister and Sosa were facing conspiracy to commit murder charges, too. 

More than a decade after Adam’s death — thanks in large part to Abe’s tireless efforts — Rijos was convicted in 2018 and sentenced to life behind bars for her role in the conspiracy. 

“It was quite a moment,” Abe said. 

Her sister, Marcia, and Sosa were also sentenced to life behind bars as well, although they were convicted of a lesser charge.