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Panamanian immigration agents detain Texas man linked to murder of DJ girlfriend in Colombia

Authorities in Panama arrested the Texas boyfriend of a DJ who was found strangled to death and stuffed in a suitcase that was abandoned in a dumpster in the Colombian capital city of Bogotá.

John Poulos, 35, was taken into custody Tuesday while he was trying to board a flight to another country at an airport in Panama, according to multiple media outlets in Colombia.

His arrest comes just two days after a homeless man searching for recyclables in the south side of Bogotá discovered a blue suitcase with the body of Valentina Trespalacios, 23.

Poulos is awaiting extradition to Colombia, where he will be charged with femicide, according to El Espectador newspaper. 

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John Poulos (pictured) was taken into custody in Panama on Tuesday moments before he was about to board a flight. The 35-year-old from Texas is wanted in Colombia for the murder of his DJ girlfriend, Valentina Trespalacios, in the Colombian capital of Bogotá

John Poulos (left) had plans of living in Colombia full time and marrying his DJ girlfriend, Valentina Trespalacios (right)

John Poulos (left) had plans of living in Colombia full time and marrying his DJ girlfriend, Valentina Trespalacios (right)

Valentina Trespalacios (pictured) was dating her boyfriend John Poulos for eight months

Valentina Trespalacios (pictured) was dating her boyfriend John Poulos for eight months

Trespalacios and Poulos have been dating for eight months after the couple met at an event Trespalacios had been hired to perform.

On Friday, she changed residence and moved into a home Poulos had rented in the northern side of the capital where they were expected to live together as they were in the early stages of planning to get married.

The couple spent the weekend dining and partying, and planned to visit her mother’s home before it all ended in tragedy.

An autopsy report indicated that Trespalacios was strangled with a rope and that her body was bruised. 

Her family has called on the Colombian government to carry out an international search for Poulos, whom they believe is responsible for Trespalacios’ death. 

As of Tuesday evening, the Colombian National Police was still canvassing the home where the couple had moved into and also searching for the 2021 Volkswagen Voyager that Poulos had rented after arriving from the United States.

A spokesperson with Colombian National Police told DailyMail.com that investigators were analyzing a surveillance video that shows a man tossing the suitcase inside the construction dumpster in the Bogotá neighborhood of Los Cámbulos before he disappeared.

Authorities have yet to identify the person in the footage, which had not been made public as of Tuesday afternoon.

Valentina Trespalacios had opportunities to DJ in Chile, México and Brazil, her family said

Valentina Trespalacios had opportunities to DJ in Chile, México and Brazil, her family said

John Poulos (picutured) fled Sunday on a flight from Colombia to Panama on Sunday. He was arrested there Tuesday and is now waiting to be extradited to Colombia to face charges for the femicide of his girlfriend, Valentina Trespalacios, who was found dead Sunday inside a suitcase that was abandoned in a dumpster in the Colombian capital city of Bogotá

John Poulos (picutured) fled Sunday on a flight from Colombia to Panama on Sunday. He was arrested there Tuesday and is now waiting to be extradited to Colombia to face charges for the femicide of his girlfriend, Valentina Trespalacios, who was found dead Sunday inside a suitcase that was abandoned in a dumpster in the Colombian capital city of Bogotá

Colombia’s migration agency confirmed Monday that Poulos had fled the country for Panama on Sunday, just hours after Trespalacios’ body was discovered.

The couple attended Sahara nightclub in Bogotá and the rideshare app driver who drove the couple there told Caracol TV that he sensed Trespalacios was in trouble when she showed him a message on the company app that said, ‘Help, I am in danger.’

The driver, whose name was not revealed by the outlet, said that Trespalacios started making hand gestures and Poulos arrived at the car and asked if everything was ok with her before she replied yes three times.

The couple got into the car and Poulos asked if he spoke English. The man replied that he did and added that Poulos remained quiet the entire trip. He said that Poulos and Trespalacios were exchanging messages on WhatsApp. He dropped them off at a club at 3:48 am.

On Friday, Valentina Trespalacios sent a video to her mother, Laura Hidalgo, showing the couple listening to music in a car driven by Poulos.

During the recording, Trespalacios aims the cellphone camera toward the back of the car and tells her mother that she had loaded all of her belongings and that she was going to go to her home Saturday.

Hidalgo told RCN Noticias that her daughter was going to move into an apartment with Poulos.

An autopsy report showed that Colombian DJ Valentina Trespalacios was strangled

An autopsy report showed that Colombian DJ Valentina Trespalacios was strangled

A homeless man was searching through a waster container in the Bogotá neighborhood of Los Cámbulos when he discovered the suitcase with Valentina Trespalacios' body

A homeless man was searching through a waster container in the Bogotá neighborhood of Los Cámbulos when he discovered the suitcase with Valentina Trespalacios’ body

In an interview with Caracol TV, Hidalgo said that Poulos met Trespalacios at a party she was hired to play music at and that he planned to move to Colombia and marry her.

‘He had good intentions, he met us, her brothers, he had the intention of getting married, making a life here in Colombia with her, investing in Colombia,’ Hidalgo said. ‘He supposedly came all the way to Colombia, I don’t know what happened.’ 

According to a recently deleted LinkedIn page, Poulos was hired as a financial advisor by Vanguard in 2022. 

A recently deleted LinkedIn account for John Poulos showed that he had been working for Vanguard as financial advisor since 2022

A recently deleted LinkedIn account for John Poulos showed that he had been working for Vanguard as financial advisor since 2022

Colombian DJ Valentina Trespalacios was found dead Sunday in a suitcase that was left in a dumpster in Bogotá

Colombian DJ Valentina Trespalacios was found dead Sunday in a suitcase that was left in a dumpster in Bogotá

The distraught mother described Poulos as someone who ‘didn’t come off as an aggressive person, he seemed calm, very calm.’

However, she noted that he had become jealous of Trespalacios.

‘He became very obsessed with my daughter and he was a little jealous. He had an argument in December with my daughter and it was out of jealousy because my daughter had many suitors because she was very beautiful.’

Trespalacios’ family said Poulos had deleted his social media pages and broke off all lines of communication with them.

Her uncle, Carlos Trespalacios, told Blu Radio that the couple appeared to be having a good time as evidenced by the photos that she shared of them smiling on her WhatsApp status feed. 

‘She was in a suitcase, dismembered with the pajamas in which she usually slept and we are asking the authorities to speed up this part,’ he said. 

‘She went out to party with her American fiancé on Friday and Saturday, so much so that she shared WhatsApp messages while at the nightclub. There is no doubt that they were (hanging out), so we want him to appear, to show face, to give us his version, to tell us where he left her, what happened to her?’

Daniel Felipe Trespalacios recalled talking with his sister while she spent her first night at the apartment.

The 13-year-old boy told Caracol TV that their mother sensed something was not right when his sister texted her, ‘Mommy, life is not easy, everything has a price.’

‘My mom took it as the guy treated her badly or something and told her ‘daughter, you don’t need that, you don’t need to give us more, you already give us a lot,” he said.

Daniel Felipe Trespalacios said the family had nothing but warm feelings about Poulos and never expected him to be involved in his sister’s murder.

‘He had already gone to Mexico with my sister,’ he said. ‘We did not distrust him because it seemed to us that too many things had happened to cause us to distrust. If he loved her as they say, he would be the first to be here showing his face to see what is happening with my sister.’


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