Panama arrests US citizen suspected in Colombia of murdering fiancé

John Poulos (Image: Panama's migration agency)

Panama’s National Police on Tuesday detained a US citizen who is suspected of murdering his fiancé in Colombia’s capital Bogota.

Wisconsin native John Poulos was detained on Panama’s international airport where he wanted to board a flight to Turkey, according to local police.

Colombian authorities had alerted Interpol about the American’s alleged involvement in the assassination of Valentina Trespalacios, a DJ from the capital Bogota.

The femicide

Valentina Trespalacios

The body of Trespalacios was found on Sunday in a suitcase in a dumpster in Los Cambulos, a neighborhood close to Bogota’s El Dorado airport.

According to Colombia’s Medical Examiner, the 23-year-old DJ apparently had been strangled to death.

Personnel of El Dorado found the victim’s phone in a bin on the airport on Tuesday, according to the police.

The mother of the Trespalacios told local media she last talked to her daughter on Friday.

According to the mother, Trespalacios sent her a video in which she said she was packing her things to move in with her fiancé.

The mother allegedly received another call from her daughter’s phone after she had gone to bed on Saturday evening

Hours later, the suitcase containing the remains of Trespalacios was found near the airport.

The suspect

While in Colombia, the 35-year-old Poulos claimed to be a financial consultant for a major American corporation, according to Trespalacios’ brother.

Colombian media initially reported that the alleged killer was from Texas, which turned out to be false after Panamanian authorities released an image of his passport.

According to the victim’s mother, Trespalacios met Poulos at a party approximately a year ago and told them he would migrate to Colombia in the coming months to marry her daughter and invest in the country.

The brother told media, however, that the murder suspect had hired a private detective to keep an eye on Trespalacios while she was working and was allegedly monitoring her phone.

The DJ’s fiancé almost immediately became the prime suspect in the murder investigation as he allegedly left Colombia and deleted his social media profiles hours after Trespalacios was murdered.

Extradition uncertain

(Image: Panamanian migration authorities)

Whether Poulos will be extradited to Colombia or expel the alleged killer to the United States mainly depends on the Panamanian government and law.

The National Police designated Poulos as the prime suspect in their murder investigation and alerted Interpol about Poulos.

In order to extradite Trespalacios’ suspected killer to Colombia, the Foreign Ministry would first have to make this request to Panama.

Panamanian authorities would subsequently have to decide whether the Colombian allegations merit an extradition.

How long Panamanian authorities are legally allowed to detain Polous for a crime committed outside the country is uncertain at this point.

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