American woman goes missing in Madrid after helmeted man disables cameras

February 17, 2024
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MADRID — Ana Maria Knezevic traveled from South Florida to Spain in December to get away for a while. Her family and friends say the naturalized American originally from Colombia has been going through a nasty divorce from her Serbian husband, but the trip was also a chance to explore new places.

Then, she vanished — two weeks ago, shortly after a man wearing a motorcycle helmet disabled the security cameras at her Madrid apartment building by spray painting the lenses. The next day, two friends received separate text messages — one in English, one in Spanish — from the 40-year-old’s phone saying she was running off for a few days with a man she had just met.

“She wouldn’t do this … it is very unsafe and crazy behavior. She wouldn’t do that. She wouldn’t do that,” said Sanna Rameau, the friend who got the English text. It was written, she said, in an emotionless style that wasn’t Ana’s. The Spanish message was so flat it appeared to have been written in English and run through Google Translate, she said.

Sanna Rameau and Ana Maria Knezevic. Spanish police are searching for Knezevic, a Colombian-American woman who went missing suddenly in Madrid.
Sanna Rameau and Ana Maria Knezevic. Spanish police are searching for Knezevic, a Colombian-American woman who went missing suddenly in Madrid. Sanna Rameau / AP

“It just didn’t make sense,” Rameau told The Associated Press.

She’s also tiny — smaller than the 4-feet-11-inches tall listed on her driver’s license, Rameau said. “I can lift her up with one arm and carry her away,” the friend said.

Police in Madrid and Fort Lauderdale were notified, launching investigations on each side of the Atlantic. Both agencies are being closed mouthed about where the search stands, with each declining comment. The American embassy in Madrid also declined comment.

Spain’s Missing Persons Association has posted Knezevic’s photograph around the nation’s capital, but has not received any responses, spokesman Joaquin Amills said.

David and Ana Knezevic have been married for 13 years and own EOX Technology Solutions Inc., which does computer support for South Florida businesses. Records show they also own a home and two other Fort Lauderdale properties, one of those currently under foreclosure.

Ana’s brother, Juan Henao, called the divorce “nasty” in an interview with a Fort Lauderdale detective, a report shows.

“There is a substantial amount of money on the line to be split up between the two and David is not happy about it,” the report says.

David Knezevic’s current whereabouts are unknown.

Henao told the detective he believes his brother-in-law traveled to his home country of Serbia in January. After Ana disappeared, Henao texted David to ask if he knew her whereabouts. He replied “’Whats up?” before telling Henao that Ana was missing, which he already knew. “Nothing else besides that,” Henao said.

In a short phone interview, Henao said he hopes the international attention will make finding Ana a top police priority.

“Let’s just keep pushing and see if that will get them to do more to help us find my sister,” he said.

No one answered the door Thursday at the Knezevics’ Fort Lauderdale home, where the mailbox is overflowing and the cars are covered in dirt and dust. No one answered the phone at their company, and David Knezevic did not respond to emails and a voicemail.

Rameau said Ana never mentioned fearing her husband or that he was abusive.

“She never said to me that she felt in danger,” said Rameau.

Paint obscuring a building's security camera where Ana Maria Knezevic was staying in Madrid.
Paint obscuring a building’s security camera where Ana Maria Knezevic was staying in Madrid. Sanna Rameau / AP

Ana chose an apartment in Madrid’s wealthy and fashionable Salamanca quarter, traveled with Rameau in Austria in January, and planned to see a Spanish friend in Barcelona on Feb. 5 before reuniting with Rameau in Madrid starting Feb. 8.

But on Feb. 2 at about 9:30 p.m., the helmet-wearing man disabled the apartment complex’s security cameras — something no one searching for Ana knew for almost a week. She had a normal phone call with a friend about a half hour later. Neighbors said they last saw her about that time.

The next day, Rameau became alarmed when she got a text from Ana’s phone.

“I met someone wonderful!! He has a summer house 2H (hours) from Madrid,” it read. “We are going there now and I will spend a few days there. Signal is spotty. I’ll call you when I get back.”

That was followed a minute later by a second text: “Yesterday after therapy I needed a walk and he approached me on the street! Amazing connection. Like I never had.”

The Spanish friend got similar texts, the ones that appeared to have been translated by computer.

Rameau said there is no chance she would run off with a stranger, and never told her friend that night she had met someone.

Rameau and the Spanish friend contacted police after she didn’t respond to their increasingly frantic calls and texts. Firefighters went to her apartment for a wellness check, looked inside and found nothing amiss, Rameau said.

Madrid police said they would investigate if she didn’t show up for her Barcelona trip. When she didn’t, detectives asked a Spanish judge for permission to search her phone records and apartment, but absent strong evidence of a crime, they were denied.

Rameau and the Spanish friend then went to her building on Feb. 8, and learned from a clerk about the helmeted man painting the cameras. They alerted police.

Now, Ana’s family and friends wait for news.

“I’m just desperate to find answers,” Rameau said. “I’m just desperate to find a reason for who could have done this.”



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