Canadian fugitive lead suspect in murder of Colombia’s Laura Lopera

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The body of Laura Lopera was discovered inside a suitcase in Medellín/FILE

Colombian authorities have identified a Canadian man, Jesse Gilbert Wiseman, as the suspect in the murder of 20-year-old Laura Lopera. Lopera’s body was discovered inside a suitcase in an apartment rented by Wiseman in Medellín, echoing the horrific 2023 murder of Valentina Trespalacios by U.S. citizen John Poulos.

The Attorney General’s Office has released details regarding the most recent femicide in Colombia involving a man described as being in his “late forties,early fifties”, and a young woman whom he met on a dating App. Lopera’s body was found abandoned in a suitcase in an apartment in Villa Hermosa, Comuna 8 of Medellín, which the foreigner had rented.

The violent nature of the crime has stirred outrage given that Wisemen has left Colombia for Guatemala on Friday, February 9,  three days before the body was discovered and Lopera had been reported missing since January 31.

Wiseman had met Lopera on social media at the end of 2023, and despite language obstacles, due to the suspect’s limited Spanish proficiency, the couple gradually developed a romantic relationship over the course of four months. The owner of the apartment in Medellín’s Boston neighborhood found the abandoned suitcase after noticing a disturbing odor. She proceeded to contact Wiseman through WhatsApp, and the response of the alleged murderer was that he had left “unattended garbage” before leaving the Colombia “due to an emergency”.

Preliminary analyses by Colombia’s Legal Forensics Institute – Medicina Legal – suggest that Lopera likely died on Sunday, February 4, a week before the body was discovered inside the suitcase. A public service driver who was also an acquaintance of the victim, was the last person to see her alive, having dropped her off at the Wiseman’s seven-room apartment where the alleged femicide occurred.

Juan Manuel, the victim’s brother, told El Colombiano newspaper that Laura and Jesse appeared to have a “normal relationship”, and that the foreigner maintained a low profile with the family, having met the mother only at a restaurant during a dinner invitation. According to Juan Manuel, Wiseman seemed “calm, serene, and reserved.” However, the brother suspects that the Canadian’s demeanor might have been a façade, concealing “a darker reality”.

The investigation has revealed an audio clip purportedly capturing Wiseman verbally threatening the young woman. In the recording, he can be heard using offensive language, saying: “I am a fucking angry with you now, you don’t listen to me (…) you must listen to me, come and let’s resolve everything, don’t talk to me through damn WhatsApp…” This distressing message, as well as others in the hands of investigators, raise questions about the abusive nature of the relationship and verbal threats the victim may have received.

Laura Isabel Lopera leaves behind a 3-year-old daughter.

Medellín Mayor Federico Gutiérrez confirmed the findings and emphasized ongoing efforts with international authorities to apprehend Jesse Wiseman through Interpol.

“He has already been identified. He left the country yesterday. Thanks to the joint work between @FiscaliaCol and @PoliciaColombia @PoliciaMedellin, we hope that an arrest warrant will soon be issued and executed through an Interpol alert,” Gutiérrez stated on his official social media account. He expressed solidarity with Wiseman’s family, acknowledging that efforts are underway to address the situation.

The parallels with the previous femicide case involving Valentina Trespalacios and John Poulos, where the victim’s body was also left in a suitcase, are disturbingly evident, as well as the fact that Poulos also met the young Colombian woman on a dating App. Poulos fled Colombia just hours after allegedly murdering Valentina, and dumped the suitcase with her body inside near Bogotá’s International Airport.

John Poulos was detained in Panama as he was boarding a Turkish Airlines flight to Istanbul, and deported under heavy escort by the National Police to Colombia. The U.S citizen is currently in custody in Bogotá’s maximum security prison La Picota. Poulos faces ongoing criminal proceedings for the femicide of Trespalacios and could receive a 40-year prison sentence.

John Poulos maintains “innocence” in murder case of Bogotá DJ