DJ Valentina Trespalacios Found Dead in Suitcase, Boyfriend Arrested

An American citizen was arrested and charged with the death of Valentina Trespalacios. The 23-year-old Colombian electronic music DJ was found dead in a suitcase in the early morning hours of Jan. 22. John Poulos was arrested in Panama on Jan. 24 and was charged in a televised court hearing in Bogota, Colombia's capital city.

A recycler found a woman's body inside a suitcase at the bottom of a garbage container in Bogota on Jan. 22, reports CNN. He notified authorities, who confirmed it was Trespalacios' body. Her relatives confirmed she had been with her boyfriend since the day before. The Colombian Attorney Genera's Office said the woman died of mechanical suffocation. The early investigation also showed that she was subject to force before she died.

"Through a special group made up of the Bogota Metropolitan Police members, 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 district of Fontibon," Brigadier General Carlos Fernando Triana, commander of the Bogota Metropolitan Police, told CNN. He added that authorities offered a 20 million pesos reward for information on the crime.

Poulos was arrested at Panama's Tocumen International Airport on Jan. 24 while trying to catch a flight to Istanbul, the Panamanian National Police told CNN. He was then transferred to Bogota, where he had his first hearing on Jan. 26. The court heard details of his relationship with Trespalacios. The next day, he was charged in a five-hour court hearing. His next court hearing is set for Jan. 31.

Poulos' defense argued that there were flaws in the investigation leading to his arrest and accused police of ignoring due process. Colombian prosecutors and police said they obtained over 300 hours of security footage showing Poulos with Trespalacious before her death. They said they have footage of the two together between Friday night and Sunday morning.

Trespalacios' mother, Laura Hidalgo, told local reporters that her boyfriend was an American who planned to marry her daughter. "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 (party) scene," Hidalgo said, reports CNN. "He lived in the United States and came to marry her, they were going to share a life together and do the paperwork for that."

If Trespalacios' death is classified as femicide, Poulos could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted. The term refers to an intentional murder of a woman because they are a woman. There were 612 femicides in Colombia last year alone, according to the Colombian Femicide Observatory.  

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