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What Happened to Rey Rivera of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Netflix
In 2006, Rey Rivera was found dead amid extremely bizarre circumstances. Police at the time suspected he’d died from suicide. But with a lack of hard evidence, and a number of strange details leading up to his death, the case remains unsolved. The first episode of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries, a remake of the classic series, covers cold cases and paranormal mysteries, with each episode traversing a different unsolved tale. Episode One, “Mystery on The Rooftop,” details the death of 32-year-old aspiring filmmaker Rey Rivera in 2006.
Rivera and his wife Allison had recently moved to Baltimore so he could take a job writing financial newsletters for his good friend Porter Stansberry’s financial company. On May 16, in the evening after Allison had left for a business trip, Rivera vanished. A friend staying at their home informed Allison that he had left the house in a hurry after receiving a phone call and had not returned. After over a week with no sign of life, phone communication, or bank activity, Allison and her parents spotted Rey’s car in a downtown parking lot on May 26. But after searches of the area, Rivera was still unaccounted for—until a strange hole was spotted in the roof of a second-floor meeting room of the Belvedere Hotel, which sits adjacent to the hotel’s main tower. Rivera’s decomposed body was found inside the locked room with the punctured ceiling, suggesting that he either fell or was pushed from the roof of the main building. But all of Rivera’s family and friends were adamant he was not suicidal. Rey Rivera had no history of mental illness, had been happily married for a mere six months at the time, and had plans to move to L.A. within the year in order to pursue a career in filmmaking.
Many suspicious details arose, which further debunked the theory of suicide: Rivera would have had to take a running leap off the main building to land where he did; Rivera’s shoes were placed near the hole’s opening along with his unbroken cell phone; his glasses were found intact and unscratched; Rivera’s money clip, a gift from his wife, was not on his person and was never recovered; there were zero witnesses that saw Rivera, who was 6’5, enter the hotel that night, and mysteriously, all the hotel’s camera rooftop footage of the day in question was unwatchable due to a technical error.
From there, circumstances get even more mysterious: a cryptic note was found taped to the back of Rivera’s computer from the day he went missing. The note was largely nonsensical, typed in tiny font, and was so puzzling to police that it was sent off to the FBI, who ruled it to not be a suicide note.
Per 11 News:
The note was addressed to brothers and sisters and referred to a well-played game. It named people who had died, including actor Christopher Reeve and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. It also contained a long list of people Rivera knew and was related to, with a request to make them and himself five years younger. The note also introduced an element of the case that involved Rivera’s apparent interest in the Free Masons. The note began and ended with phrases used in the Masonic order. Rivera’s family and friends said his fascination with the Free Masons centered on their reputation as an organization with secrets.
While the Netflix episode covered Rivera’s interest in Free Masons, it did not reveal that he had called a local branch to inquire about joining on the day of his death. He also, that day, purchased the book “Free Masons for Dummies.”
Even more suspicious is the sudden and complete shut down from Rivera’s supposed best friend Porter Stansberry, who barred company employees from talking to the police or media and refused to cooperate with the investigation himself. A year before Rivera joined the company, the company was accused of violating Securities and Exchange Commission regulations by essentially selling false, baseless financial advice to investors. There is speculation that Rivera’s financial newsletter for Stansberry’s company had similarly recommended stocks which had not rebounded to investors, possibly creating enemies for Rivera, or unwittingly entangling him in a scheme of some sort.
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The episode also dives into two separate times the alarm went off in the Riveras’ Baltimore home at night in the days leading up to Rey’s disappearance. Allison recalls sensing fear in Rey, which she notes, in the show, was out of character for him.
Rivera’s story is also explored in the 2018 book An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere by Mikita Brottman, who at the time of Rey’s death, lived in the Belvedere. Although the police investigation leaned largely towards suicide, the medical examiner ruled Rivera’s manner of death “undetermined.” Brottman’s book, however, revealed that Rey Rivera’s death is currently classified as a homicide. To this day, the case remains open.
Lauren Kranc is an editorial assistant at Esquire and Masters student at New York University.
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