The mysterious death of Rey Rivera: What happened to the newlywed, aspiring filmmaker at the Belvedere Hotel?
Medical examiners did not rule his death suicide, homicide or an accident, it was declared as 'undetermined' as circumstances were unclear
Rey Rivera, a 32-year-old recently married aspiring filmmaker and former editor of a financial newsletter, seemingly had a lot to look forward to in life. Rivera, however, mysteriously disappeared one evening on May 16, 2006, from his Northwood home in Baltimore with no traces of his whereabouts. Missing posters, with his face and other details plastered on it, began cropping up in the neighborhood with a reward of $1,000 for any information on him.
For days, there was no word of Rivera until nearly a week later, on May 26, his decomposed body was found. The circumstances surrounding his death were strange. His body was found in a closed, abandoned meeting room of the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore. His body had been lying there for some time. The meeting room's roof had a hole in it, and the 32-year-old's injuries suggested that he had likely fallen from the top of the Belvedere, 14 stories up, and crashed through the lower roof.
His death sparked fervent speculation as many assumed he had jumped to his death, while others believed he was pushed and thrown. There has been no clarity in the circumstances surrounding his death till date. Rivera, six months into his marriage, appeared happy to his closest friends and family, he had been planning to move to Los Angeles along with his wife to pursue screenwriting. He had reportedly also booked an office space for the weekend after his disappearance to do some editing work. Rivera did not have a history of mental illness and nothing untoward had happened in his life at the time. Nothing indicated that he was planning to end his life.
Forensic results and analysis of his death suggested that not only did Rivera fall, but he must have taken a running leap from the roof to land where he landed going by the injuries he suffered. There were no witnesses who saw Rivera on or coming off the roof of the hotel, according to Baltimore police. There were no leads to his death. Medical examiners, in the end, did not rule his death suicide, homicide or an accident, it was declared as "undetermined."
Although circumstances surrounding Rivera's death were unclear, there were some unexplained aspects of the case which baffled the authorities too. Officials found Rivera's cellphone and his sandals intact, they were found on top of the lower roof of the building, according to the police reports. The phone was in a perfectly working condition, how did it survive such a big plunge? Former police Cmdr. Mel Blizzard, specializing in behavioral assessment, told 11 News after reviewing evidence in the case: "I just find it to be highly unlikely, with that type of kinetic energy hitting that rooftop at the time," he said. "I definitely feel that there are a lot of unanswered questions -- a lot of loops that need to be closed."
Another mysterious evidence found was a cryptic note which was typed and folded in plastic and taped to his home computer screen along with a blank check. Baltimore Police Department Cmdr. Fred Bealefeld, at the time, said: "It just seemed bizarre. Really bizarre." Officials found it very strange and sent it to the FBI thinking maybe it was coded. The FBI concluded that it was not a suicide not. "What it does appear to be is a weird stream of conscious writing," Bealefeld said. "The other thing I thought of is if he's writing some type of code to someone about something. That's possible."
Rivera's note had multiple names in it, and was addressed to brothers and sisters, it also referred to a game well-played. It contained names of people who had died, including actor Christopher Reeve and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. However, it also contained the names of people who Rivera was related to or knew. He wrote of a bizarre request in the note, he wanted to make himself and the people he had named in the note five years younger. The note also made references to the Freemasons. Rivera's friends told authorities that he was fascinated with the Freemasons because of their reputation as a secretive organization.
Another aspect of his death that appeared odd to many was the extensive security camera system at the Belvedere Hotel where he died. There was no footage of him because of a technical problem. Police could not recover the data of the day he died or the days before. The last-known person who saw Rivera alive was a houseguest at his home. The anonymous woman reportedly told authorities that the 32-year-old left the house in a hurry, seemingly late for an appointment, and never returned.
Netflix's docu-series Unsolved Mysteries premiers July 1.