Inside the Case of Ana Knezevich Henao, Who Wanted to Start Non-Profit for Abuse Victims and Then Vanished in Spain

Ana Knezevich Henao, 40, disappeared from her Madrid apartment on Feb. 2, 2024

<p>National Center for the Missing in Spain</p> Ana Knezevich Henao

National Center for the Missing in Spain

Ana Knezevich Henao

Ana Knezevich Henao's loved ones talk about her passion for traveling, animals, friends and her family.

When her younger brother Felipe wanted to move to Florida from Colombia, it was Ana who hired him at the tech company she owned with her husband David Knezevich, an IT specialist originally from Serbia.

“She gave me food, shelter, and guidance,” Felipe Henao, 35, tells PEOPLE.

Years earlier, Ana helped Felipe when he moved to England to do volunteer work with people with disabilities. “She paid for my tickets,” he remembers. “She paid for a laptop that I needed. She told me this is going to be a great experience. And it was the right call because that was one of the best years of my life.”

“It basically is all because of her,” he says about Ana, 40, whose disappearance from her apartment in Madrid, Spain, on Feb. 2 has made international headlines. “I always told her this, if it wasn't for her, I don't know what I would be doing.”

At a May 9 press conference, Henao urged anyone with information about Ana to come forward.

“We still have hope that we can find where my sister is,” Henao said, per WSVN. “If she’s out there, somewhere, I just want to tell her we all love her, we miss her, we support her, we’re her voice.”

<p>AP Photo/Manu Fernandez</p> A banner of a Colombian-born American missing woman Ana Maria Knezevich Henao

AP Photo/Manu Fernandez

A banner of a Colombian-born American missing woman Ana Maria Knezevich Henao

Related: His Wife Vanished in Spain. How His Texts to a Woman He Met Online Made Him the Suspect

Friend gets troubling texts: 'I was very confused'

Ana had traveled from Florida to Madrid on Dec. 27, 2024 after separating from Knezevich, her husband of 13 years.

“She said to me that she really liked the culture in that city and the atmosphere, and she said she wanted to go and live there,” says Ana’s best friend Sanna Rameau.

Ana wanted to start a non-profit “helping women that have been abused or been in a bad situation,” says Rameau. “She wanted the divorce to go through, and she said that's what she wanted to do after splitting up everything.”

Rameau says she met up with Ana in Austria in January and planned to visit her in Madrid on Feb. 8, but Ana, who she spoke to on a daily basis, just vanished.

Rameau says she realized something was wrong on Feb. 3 when she got strange text messages purportedly from Ana saying that she'd met a wonderful man on the street, and that she was going to his home two hours from Madrid, where cell phone service was spotty.

“I was very confused,” Rameau tells PEOPLE. “I was like, ‘What are you talking about? What is going on? This is not safe. Share your location. Something is wrong.'”

When Ana didn't respond to her texts, she contacted Ana’s friend in Madrid and alerted authorities.

David Knezevich
David Knezevich

Related: Brother of Fla. Woman Missing in Spain Says Family Members ‘Still Have Hope’: ‘We Miss Her’

Rameau says Ana spoke to a friend on the phone on the evening of Feb. 2. She was “just goofing around,” she says. “She was totally normal.”

A Feb. 7 police report obtained by PEOPLE states that Felipe told authorities that Ana and Knezevich were “going through a nasty divorce and there is a substantial amount of money on the line to be split up between the two and Knezevich is not happy about it."

Security footage captured man resembling Knezevich, say authorities

Ana was last seen by security cameras entering her apartment around 2:30 p.m. on Feb. 2. That evening, around 9:27 p.m., surveillance cameras caught a man wearing a helmet entering the building as people were leaving. Once inside, the man, who authorities say resembled Knezevich, used a can of spray paint to spray over the apartment’s surveillance camera lens. The man was then seen "fastening a piece of duct tape to the lock of the building entrance to prevent the lock from engaging to allow subsequent entry," per a federal complaint.

About an hour later, around 10:30 p.m., the man was seen walking off the elevator with what looked like a suitcase.

Spanish police later searched Ana's apartment and found no traces of her cell phone, laptop computer, or chargers.

During the investigation, authorities tracked down the retailer that sold the brand of paint used to spray over the security camera. “Surveillance footage from the retailer depicted an individual who appeared to be Knezevich purchasing the spray paint along with two rolls of duct tape” on Feb. 2, the complaint alleges.

Investigators also spoke to a Colombian woman who met Knezevich online in Oct. 2023. The woman told authorities that Knezevich reached out to her on WhatsApp on Feb. 3 asking for her help translating a message into “perfect Colombian.”

Knezevich allegedly told her that the translation was for a friend in Serbia “who is writing a script about a Colombian character.”

Related: Husband of Fla. Woman Who Went Missing in Spain Arrested 3 Months After Her Disappearance

“I met someone wonderful," he allegedly asked her to translate, per the complaint. "He has a summer house about 2h (two hours) from Madrid. We are going there now and I will spend a few days there. There is barely any signal though. I will call you when I come back. Kisses.”

He also allegedly asked her to translate: “yesterday after therapy I needed a walk and he approached me on the street! Amazing connection. Like I never had before,” according to the complaint.

The woman later contacted authorities after her mother searched online for Knezevich and “learned that his wife had been reported missing in Madrid,” the complaint states.

Tracking the suspect's alleged movements

Authorities allege Knezevich flew to Istanbul from Miami on Jan. 27 and then rented a Peugeot 308 in Serbia on Jan. 29.

From there, authorities allege he drove to Spain to kidnap his estranged wife. The rental car agency owner told authorities that Knezevich returned the car with tinted windows and different license plate frames.

On April 24, Knezevich’s employee told law enforcement that he asked her to “impersonate” Ana to open a new bank account and provided her with Ana’s social security number to use as proof, the complaint alleges.

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The following day, the employee told Knezevich that she was uncomfortable impersonating Ana because his wife was missing. Knezevich allegedly told the employee that it “needed to be done” so employees could be paid. Knezevich allegedly stated, “I cannot call with my voice because I sound like a guy.”

On May 4, the FBI arrested Knezevich at Miami airport and charged him with kidnapping.

“Nothing of this makes sense to me,” says Rameau. “It's devastating. We just want to know where she is."

"I am not going to stop until justice has been served," she adds. "I miss her every minute. I just dream that she would come back. She was a sweetheart.”

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