Suicide Or Murder? Questions Remain In Rey Rivera’s Mysterious 2006 Death
Did the writer and aspiring filmmaker fall, jump or get pushed from Baltimore’s Belvedere Hotel?
A Maryland newlywed appeared to have crashed through the roof of Baltimore’s Belvedere Hotel and police determined his death was a probable suicide, but the puzzling case is still shrouded in mystery almost 15 years later.
Early in the evening on May 16, 2006, Rey Rivera, 32, seemed to vanish into thin air. In Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries reboot, Rivera’s wife, Allison, said she had departed on a business trip that morning, but a houseguest staying with the couple recalled hearing a call come in around 6:30 p.m. Rivera answered and then he left in a hurry.
Angel F. Rivera II said his brother’s sudden disappearance was “completely out of character.”
“He’s not only going to tell you where he’s going; he’s going to tell you how he got there,” he told The Baltimore Sun at the time. “For him to go this long and not contact any of his family or friends, it’s got everyone scared.”
Rey Rivera, an aspiring filmmaker and director, and his wife had been hoping to sell their home and move across the country to Los Angeles so he could pursue a job working in Hollywood. The couple had also discussed starting a family — “He wanted a baby so bad,” his wife told Unsolved Mysteries — and they had made plans to travel.
Frank Porter Stansberry, Rivera’s longtime pal and boss at Stansberry and Associates, said Rivera was “a happy guy” who wouldn’t just walk away from everything.
“He and his wife had just booked a trip to go to New Mexico in a few weeks. This is not a man that wanted to leave,” he told The Sun after Rivera went missing. “I’ve got to find my friend. I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s my best friend.”
Worried, loved ones launched a frantic search. Six days after Rivera was last seen alive, the car he drove off in was found in a parking lot located near the Belvedere Hotel and his job at Stansberry and Associates, where he edited a financial newsletter.
After another two days passed, three of Rivera’s coworkers searching for him went on top of a parking garage next to the Belvedere. They looked over the edge and spotted flip flops near a small hole on the hotel’s second-story annex. Police had a concierge open up a closed conference room and discovered Rivera’s decomposing body lying beneath the hole punched through the metal roof.
While police believed the disturbing scene suggested Rivera may have jumped from one of the hotel’s adjacent rooftops almost 200 feet above, others suspected foul play. The coroner ruled the cause of Rivera’s death “undetermined,” The Sun reported.
Strange potential clues only added to the confusion.
An autopsy revealed Rivera had suffered broken shins, rib fractures, punctured lungs and lacerations, among other extreme bodily injuries.
Michael Baier, a retired Baltimore Police Department detective who worked on the case, told Unsolved Mysteries that he’s one of the few in law enforcement who doubts Rivera killed himself.
Baier estimated the hole on top of the second-story annex was roughly 45 feet out from the edge of the main hotel’s roof and “virtually impossible” to land in — even if Rivera got a running start.
And the former detective noted that the adjacent parking garage roof was only 20 feet above and 20 feet over from the hole, making it “feasible a man could survive that [fall]” and not suffer such severe injuries.
He also said that Rivera, who was afraid of heights, seemed to have fallen with so much force, but his cell phone and eyeglasses were found undamaged on the hotel roof.
“To me, it looked staged,” Baier said of the scene.
If Rivera did plummet from the top of the Belvedere, nobody at the hotel reported seeing or hearing anything out of the ordinary. Detectives could find no security camera footage in which Rivera appeared, and a rooftop camera was disconnected at the time.
Investigators were able to trace a call made from Stansberry and Associates to Rivera’s cell phone the evening he died, but they hit another dead end when they couldn’t figure out who had made the call since it had been routed through a company switchboard.
In another odd twist, Alison said she combed through the house she shared with her husband in an effort to figure out what had happened. During a search of their office, she discovered a bizarre note taped to the back of his computer with strange references, including to a “well-played game” and the Freemasons.
According to Alison, her husband seemed scared leading up to his death, especially when their home alarm went off around 1 a.m the night before he vanished.
“Somebody was trying to get into the house,” Allison said, noting a first-floor window was tampered with. “I believe it was connected to his death.”
Today, she suspects her husband was targeted after he “turned over some rock” and uncovered information someone was desperate to keep secret.
“I believe Rey was murdered,” she said. “What I can’t get in my head, though, is what would that information be for somebody to kill him?”