Real Name: Rey Omar Rivera
Nickname: No known nicknames
Location: Baltimore, Maryland
Date: May 16, 2006
Case[edit | edit source]
Details: Thirty-two-year-old Rey Rivera was a writer and aspiring filmmaker who recently moved to Baltimore with his wife, Allison, at the behest of his best friend, Porter Stansberry. On May 16, 2006, he left his home in a hurry. His body was found on May 23 at the Belvedere Hotel. His death was ruled undetermined by the medical examiner. Police believe he committed suicide. His family disagrees with the suicide notion and believe he was murdered.
Rey was very close to his family; growing up, his father was in the military, so he and his family were constantly moving. As a result, they spent most of the time with each other. In November 2005, he and Allison married in Puerto Rico. His family described him as happy and fun-loving. According to Allison, his dream was to become a writer and director. They had previously lived in southern California where he hoped to become a filmmaker. However, the jobs he could find were not bringing in much money.
Rey turned to Porter, who was living in Baltimore. They had been friends since high school and played water polo together. After high school, they remained friends. Porter had a company, Stansberry Associates, that wrote financial newsletters. He had always wanted Rey to come write for him. Even though Rey did not know finance or stocks, Porter was persistent and really wanted to work with him.
In December 2004, Rey took a job writing financial newsletters for Porter in Baltimore. He and Allison moved there but knew little of the area. They made a pact that they were going to live there for twenty-four months. They soon found a great home, church, and community there. According to Allison, they were very happy there.
On May 16, 2006, Allison prepared to leave for a business trip. That morning, Rey woke up with her and made her breakfast. Before she left, he carried her suitcase for her and put it in her car. She then left for a three-hour drive. At around 6pm, after finishing her meetings, she checked into the hotel and called him. However, he did not answer, which she felt was strange.
At the time, Rey and Allison had a house guest, Claudia, who was a work colleague of Allison's. Later that night, Allison called her and asked about Rey. She said that at around 6:30pm, she had heard him answer a call on his cell phone. She then heard him run out of the house in a hurry. While on the phone with Allison, she checked around the house and noticed that all of the lights were on. However, he had not returned home. The next morning at 5:30am, Claudia called Allison and told her that he still had not returned.
Allison was certain that something was wrong. She immediately left her hotel and returned home. She called Rey's family and friends, but no one had heard from him. His brother, Angel, was certain that something had happened to him. That afternoon, he flew to Baltimore to help search for him. When Allison arrived home, she noticed that his car was not there. In the kitchen, she found an opened soda can, a bag of chips, and his Invisaligns. Upstairs, she noticed that the bedroom light and office light were on.
At around 7pm, Angel arrived in Baltimore. By then, Claudia had returned to New York. Rey's mother, Maria, and Allison's parents arrived in Baltimore soon after to help in the search. Allison called several hospitals to see if he had been checked into them as a "John Doe". Porter put up a reward of $1,000 for information on his whereabouts. He was also able to get the media involved in this case.
Rey's family and friends went to different places in Baltimore, including various coffee shops and restaurants, in the hopes that someone might have seen him. However, no one reported doing so. Allison noted that his credit cards were never used, his cell phone was dead, and there was no activity on their bank accounts. His loved ones feared the worst, but knew that they had to keep searching for him.
On May 22, Allison's parents decided to search for his car in several parking lots in Baltimore. They eventually found it in spot #7 in one behind a building on St. Paul Street. When found, it had a ticket on it. The parking attendant told Allison that it most likely was parked there on the evening of Rey's disappearance, as he had found it there the following morning. She could not understand why he was there.
Rey's car was found near the Belvedere, which is a historic hotel which now includes condominiums, along with restaurants, bars, and lounges. The company that he worked for, Stansberry & Associates, is also nearby. Therefore, it did not seem that unusual that he would be in that part of town. Multiple searches were conducted in the area surrounding where his car was found.
On May 24, three of Rey's coworkers decided to go to the top of the parking garage next to the Belvedere. When they looked over the edge, they spotted flip-flops on the lower roof area, near a hole in it. They immediately called the police. Officers arrived and had a manager open the door to the conference room with the hole in the roof. Inside, they found Rey's body on the floor. His family was told the news at Baltimore Police Headquarters later that day.
As Rey's family and friends mourned his death, police began to investigate it. His body was found in a prone position and was heavily decomposed. Eight days had passed from his disappearance to the discovery of his body. Despite the decomposition, the medical examiner discovered multiple fractured ribs, punctured lungs, lacerations, damage to the skull, and two fractures to the right leg. With the extent of the injuries, it appeared that he had come from great heights when he went through the roof. Investigators noticed that the hole was clean and not too large. Rey apparently fell through it vertically.
The biggest question became: where did he come from and how did he get through the hole? The first theory was that he either jumped off, fell off, or was pushed off the top roof and went through the lower one, which was about ten stories down. The top one was an approximately forty-foot open area. However, there are several different structures there, such as air conditioning units and air ducts. There was approximately forty-five feet between the edge of the roof and the hole.
Detective Michael Baier felt that it would have been virtually impossible for Rey to have made the jump, especially in flip-flops. Allison recalled that he was very afraid of heights and would have been scared to be up on the roof as there was no railing. She could find no reason for him to be up there. Baier did not believe that he had jumped from the roof.
The second theory was that Rey jumped from the parking garage where his coworkers had discovered the hole. The distance from the garage to it was about twenty feet. The height from the lower roof to the garage was also about twenty feet. Baier felt that a jump from the garage into the roof would have been survivable. Also, he did not believe that the injuries to Rey's body matched with a fall from that height. As a result, he ruled out this theory.
The third theory was that Rey fell from a ledge on the eleventh floor. The ledge wraps around the building. However, he could only access it by going through either an office or someone's condo. Also, the windows were "half windows" which barely opened at all. Furthermore, the ledge was small and it would have been difficult to maneuver it without falling off of it. Due to the conflicting evidence, it has not been determined where he exactly fell from.
During the investigation of the hole in the roof, Rey's cell phone was found. Strangely, there was little damage to it and it still worked. His glasses were found nearby. They also had little damage to them. WBAL-TV reporter Jayne Miller became interested in this case and reported on it several times. She felt it was strange that his cell phone and glasses had little damage despite the force that was needed to push him through the roof. Also on it were his flip-flops; one was broken while the other was not. Allison noticed what appeared to be drag marks on one. Baier believed that the evidence on the roof was staged. Rey's money clip was not found on his body. He usually kept his money, identification, and other items in it. They have never been recovered.
Investigative journalist Stephen Janis looked into Rey's death. He asked several people at the hotel if they had seen him or heard anything that night. However, no one reported seeing him or hearing anything. Angel tried to recreate Rey's movements that night. He tried to walk through the lobby and upstairs to the roof. However, he does not believe that Rey would have been able to do this without being noticed or stopped.He noted that there are several back stairways and hallways that he would have had to navigate through before reaching the roof. Jayne noted that the door to the roof area was usually locked. It appeared that he would have had to know how to get there beforehand.
Baier checked the cameras to the hotel but could find no trace of Rey. Unfortunately, the one on the roof was disconnected. According to Baier, no one could give him any indication that Rey was in the building that night. There were no witnesses or phone calls that placed him there. Despite the inconsistencies in this case, the Baltimore police ruled his death a suicide.
Rey's family and friends do not believe that he committed suicide. Angel noted that he was not under any mental duress or psychoactive medications. Allison felt that they were in a very happy point in their lives. She claimed that he wanted to start a family with her. Jayne did not believe that there was any evidence that suggested he wanted to commit suicide.
Allison met with the medical examiner who was involved in this case. The examiner said that they were not planning to close it, despite the police department's ruling. The examiner told her that the way his shins were broken was not consistent with a fall. However, they would not say how they believed the injuries actually occurred. Based on the inconsistencies in this case, the examiner declared the manner of death as "undetermined". This meant that they did not have enough evidence to determine if his death was a suicide, accident, or murder.
While Rey was still missing, Allison was searching through their house when she found a note taped to the back of the computer in their office. It text was shrunk down to a very small font size. She determined that it had been written on the day of his disappearance because there were scraps of it in the trash can. It said, in part: Brothers and Sisters, Right now, around the world, volcanos are erupting. What an awesome sight...whom virtue unites, death will not separate.
The note had different names on it, such as movie star and family ones. Baier considered it to be "very unusual". Allison noted that there was an entire page which listed people that he knew. However, some important people in his life were not included. There was also a list of movies that "stuck with him". Allison did not understand what the note meant as a whole. In it, he continued: I stand before you a man who understands the purpose and value of our secrets. That's why I cherish them as secrets.
Allison decided to take the first sentence from the note and do a Google search on it. The first thing that came up had to do with the Freemasons. She noted that Rey was curious about secret societies such as them. She suspected that he may have been wanting to do a screenplay about them. Jayne felt that the note was cryptic and may have been written in code. In it, he also stated: That was a well-played game. Congratulations, to all who participated.
Rey was known as a prolific writer and he wrote a great amount of stuff in different places. Allison recalled that he would often write about many different things on the same page of paper that would not make sense to anyone but him. The note continued: Life is a test to see if you can control your spirit. Take care and enjoy the festivities. Allison immediately gave tit to the police, who then sent it to an FBI lab. The lab determined that it, while unusual, was not a suicide one. Allison also does not believe that it was so.
Another bizarre aspect of this case was Rey's abrupt departure from his home on the day of his disappearance. He did not take much with him on that day. It appeared that whatever sent him to the Belvedere seemed to happen in a hurry. Claudia recalled to Allison how she heard him answer the phone from his office and then quickly run down the stairs and leave the house without explanation. The phone conversation was brief and ended with the exclamation "Oh." The police traced it and determined that it had come from Stansberry & Associates. However, there was no way to determine who made it because it came from a switchboard and they could not track down the extension.
Once Rey's body was found and police tried to question Stansberry employees, the company put a gag order on the whole staff. They were not allowed to talk to police, according to the company lawyers. Porter did not return calls from the police and has not spoken about this case since the discovery of Rey's body. Baier believed that this was suspicious. Allison felt similarly; she did not understand why he would not want to talk to anyone about Rey's death.
At the time of Rey's disappearance, he was a freelance videographer for Stansberry & Associates, producing documentaries and videos of conferences. Prior to that, he was working on a newsletter called the "Rebound Report" which gives the reader stock tips to buy stocks that are currently not doing well but will rebound in the future. Before he came to Baltimore, Porter put out a letter under a firm called Pirate Investors that touted the investment in a Russian firm that planned to discover Uranium. However, the tip did not work out and investors complained.
Subsequently, the Securities and Exchange Commission (or SEC) filed fraud charges against Porter and fined him approximately $1.5 million. The company claimed that it was their First Amendment right to give the advice about the Russian firm. However, according to the SEC, the advice was fraudulent. According to Allison, one of the reasons Rey came to Baltimore was to help "clean up" Porter and the company's reputation in response to the fraud allegations.
About two weeks before Rey's death, Allison noticed that something was worrying him. She did not think much of it at the time. However, at 1am on Monday, May 15, the day before he vanished, the house alarm went off. When she went to investigate, he came quickly out of another room with a baseball bat. She noticed that he was extremely frightened by the alarm. This concerned her because he normally was not afraid of anything.
The police came out to investigate the alarm. However, they told Allison that a squirrel had probably triggered it. The following Tuesday at 1am, it went off again. She noticed that the window, which was on the ground floor, had been tampered with. She believes that someone was trying to get into their house. She also believes that the incidents were connected to Rey's death.
Allison believes that Rey found some kind of information that he was not supposed to find and was murdered because of it. However, she does not know what information he would have uncovered that would have led to him being killed over it. Meanwhile, Angel believes that his death was money-related. He suspects that someone lost a lot of money because of his "Rebound Report" and killed him over it. Jayne also believes that foul play was involved in his death and does not believe he committed suicide.
Baier cautioned Allison about investigating Rey's death and believed that she may be in danger of the same people that allegedly killed him. He believed that he was the only homicide detective involved in this case that did not believe his death was a suicide. He believes that there is enough evidence to investigate it as a homicide. However, three weeks into the investigation, he was reassigned.
The Baltimore Police Department continues to insist that Rey committed suicide. However, the medical examiner still considers the case "open". Baier believes that someone Rey worked with may have information that could help solve this case. His family is still hoping for a resolution to his case.
Suspects: Porter is considered a possible suspect in Rey's death. Prior to his death, he had worked on a report that involved a stock tip about a Russian firm. It did not work out and investors complained. The SEC became involved and accused Stansberry & Associates of fraud. Rey's family believes that these allegations may have had something to do with his death.
On the night Rey disappeared, he received a call from someone at Stansberry & Associates. He left his home immediately after. The caller's identity remains unknown.
After Rey's body was found, a gag order was reportedly placed on all of the employees at Stansberry & Associates. As a result, they were not allowed to talk to the police about this case. Porter has not spoken to police about it since then. His family suspects that Porter may have been involved.
Angel also suspects that Rey may have been murdered by someone who lost money because of the bogus stock tip.
Extra Notes: This case was first released on July 1, 2020 as a part of the first volume of the Netflix reboot of Unsolved Mysteries.
Porter Stansberry declined requests to be interviewed for the case.
Results: Unsolved. As a result of the broadcast, several tips were received about this case. However, it is not know if these tips have led to anything substantial. One online theory that has been brought up by a viewer involves one of the movies that Rey mentioned in his note: The Game. In it, the main character jumps off of a roof and crashes through a glass ceiling. There has been speculation that Rey may have tried to recreate this scene, leading to his death. This has not been confirmed.
There is some evidence not included in the broadcast that supports the theory of suicide. The FBI released a report stating that they believed Rey suffered from bipolar disorder. He and Allison were reportedly not happy with living in Baltimore. He also had been to the Belvedere several times before his death. Furthermore, he was friends with two bartenders who worked at a bar located on the thirteenth floor. They would often take smoke breaks on the roof; this suggested that he would have known how to access the roof of the hotel.
Mikita Brottman, who lived in the hotel at the time of Rey's death, wrote a book about this case. According to her, multiple people there had heard a loud "bang" sound on the night of his death, despite reports saying no one heard anything. After his death, she tried multiple times to access the roof area, and only on one occasion was the door locked. Furthermore, a physicist determined that, if he was running at eleven miles per hour, he could have jumped from the roof and landed in the spot where hos body was found.
- Rey Rivera on Wikipedia
- Rey Rivera on Unsolved.com
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- Netflix's Unsolved Mysteries explores questions in 2006 death of Baltimore man
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- Copy of the FBI Report on Rey Rivera
- Rey Rivera's obituary
- A link to a petition for Rey Rivera's case to be reopened