The latest Netflix show, Unsolved Mysteries was created to find people that may have the answers to unsolved cases. So, c’mon Baltimore—Let’s figure out what happened to Rey Rivera!
Netflix has given the public a chance to solve a mystery in its latest show, Unsolved Mysteries, and the first episode ("Mystery on the Rooftop") focuses on a death that happened right in Baltimore, Maryland. So DMV, are you ready to accept Netflix’s challenge? Let’s see if we can find out what happened to Rey Rivera.
In May 2006, Rey Omar Rivera was a young man with a bright future ahead of him. He had just married the love of his life, Allison, and moved with her from Los Angeles to Baltimore for a job with his childhood friend, Porter Stansberry.
Porter Stansberry and Rey Rivera
However, on May 16, 2006, Rey disappeared. The 32-year-old left his home while his wife was on a business trip and then never returned. Eight days later, friends and family found his body in an abandoned area of the famous Belvedere Hotel. Above Rey’s body, there was a hole in the roof. Although the police believe Rey fell through that hole, the case wasn't that simple. Rey's death was a mystery to all, and it remains one to this day.
Here’s a look at the timeline according to the docuseries. See if you can put together the missing pieces.
May 15, 2006
- 1 a.m. — The security alarm went off at the Riveras' home. Rey came out with a bat and seemed scared, according to his wife. The police determined that a squirrel set off the alarm.
May 16, 2006
- 1 a.m. — The security alarm went off again at the Riveras' home.
- Allison Rivera left for a business trip, a three-hour drive from their home.
- 6:30 p.m. — According to Allison’s business colleague and the Riveras' houseguest, Claudia, Rey received a phone call and left the house in a hurry.
May 17, 2006 (1 day after Rey’s disappearance)
- 5:30 a.m. – Claudia called Allison and told her that Rey still hadn’t returned home.
- Allison called Rey’s mother and brother, neither of whom had talked to Rey.
- 1-2 p.m. — Rey’s brother, Angel, boarded a flight to Baltimore.
- Allison goes home to discover that Rey’s car is not there. She finds an open soda can, a bag of potato chips, and Rey’s Invisalign on the kitchen table. She also notices the lights in the bedroom and office were on.
- 7 p.m. — Angel arrives at the Rivera home and other family and friends start to arrive.
May 18, 2006 (2 days after Rey’s disappearance)
- Allison’s parents arrive and the family turns the living room into a work area to find Rey. Allison calls hospitals looking for a John Doe, and Rey’s friend, Porter Stansberry, puts up a $1,000 reward to find Rey. The media gets involved, and the family searches restaurants and cafes where people may have seen Rey.
May 22, 2006 (6 days after Rey’s disappearance)
- Allison’s parents go searching for Rey’s car and find it in a parking lot on St. Paul’s Street – parking spot #7. There's a ticket on the car, and according to the parking attendant, the car must have been parked there the day Rey disappeared because he noticed it when he came to work the next day. The area where the car was found is near the Belvedere Hotel and close to Stansberry and Associates, where Rey worked. Searches are organized around the area of Rey’s recovered car.
May 24, 2006 (8 days after Rey’s disappearance)
- Three of Rey’s coworkers go to the parking garage next to the Belvedere Hotel and see flipflops on the lower roof area of the hotel, near a hole. They call the police. This building was the old racquetball club and was known as “the old church space.”
- The concierge opens the doors to the area and immediately smells a dead body. According to him, there was blood coming down the wall and Rey’s legs were towards the door.
- Allison and Angel go to the Baltimore Police headquarters, where the police confirm the body they found was Rey.
The Days that Followed
- Rey’s family finds a note taped to the back of Rey’s computer. According to Rey’s wife, it was likely written the day of Rey’s disappearance because she also found scraps of it in the trash that day. The note starts out, “Brothers and sisters, right now around the world, volcanoes are erupting. What an awesome sight. Whom virtue unites, death will not separate.” Many names are mentioned in the note, including family names and movie stars as well as a list of movies. Rey also wrote in the letter, “I stand before you a man who understands the purpose and value of our secrets. That’s why I cherish them as secrets.”
- The FBI lab analyzes the note and finds no suicide intent.
- The medical examiner determines that the cause of death is undetermined and leaves the case open. However, the Baltimore Police Department is under the assumption that Rey’s death was a suicide.
Take a look at the evidence and facts presented in the Netflix episode, and see if you can figure out what happened.
- Evidence #1: There were no purchases on Rey’s credit card the day he disappeared, and no cash pulled out of his bank accounts. His phone was also dead.
- Evidence #2: There was nothing of evidentiary significance found in Rey’s car.
- Evidence #3: The roof where Rey was thought to have fallen through was metal.
- Evidence #4: Decomposition destroyed most of the evidence on Rey’s body, but the autopsy found multiple rib fractures, punctured lungs, 7-9 inch lacerations, fractures that extended to the base of the skull, lacerations of the liver, contusion of the chest, abrasions on the torso, and the right leg had two different breaks – an open fracture of the tibia and fibula.
- Evidence #5: The medical examiner stated that the one thing that wasn’t consistent with the falls was that Rey’s shins were broken. This led her to declare the cause of death was undetermined.
- Evidence #6: Rey’s phone, glasses, and flipflops were recovered around the hole. The phone was in working order and was not cracked, and his glasses did not have a scratch on them. One of Rey’s flipflops was broken while the other seemed to have drag marks on them.
Red circle marks where the hole was on the lower roof. Rey's body was found in the room below the hole.
- Evidence #7: According to Rey’s wife, Rey was scared of heights.
- Evidence #8: Rey usually carried a money clip that had his initials engraved into it. This was a gift from his wife and was never found – not on his body or in his car.
- Evidence #9: No one in the hotel saw Rey, and there was no footage of him on any of the hotel’s security cameras. The camera on the roof was disconnected.
- Evidence #10: To get to the top of the Belvedere, you most likely needed to know where you were going. Only back stairwells led to the top, and they were usually locked or closed to the public. The door to the roof area was also normally locked.
- Evidence #11: According to Angel, Rey’s drug tests came back negative. He was not on any drugs at the time of his death.
- Evidence #12: Allison googled the first line of Rey’s note, “Whom virtue unites, death will not separate” and found a connection to freemasonry. She stated that Rey was interested in secret societies, mostly because of a potential screenplay.
- Evidence #13: The phone conversation Rey had right before he disappeared was brief, and Claudia heard a surprised “oh” from Rey. The police traced the call and it came from Stansberry & Associates. The call came from a switchboard so the police couldn’t track down the caller’s extension. Stansberry and Associates put a gag order on all their employees, and therefore none of them would talk to the police—not even Rey’s childhood friend, Porter.
- Evidence #14: Rey was a freelance videographer working for Stansberry when he disappeared. However, prior to that, he wrote a newsletter called “Rebound Report,” which gave investors tips on stocks to buy, particularly stocks that weren’t doing well but were expected to rebound in the future. Prior to Rey coming on board, Porter wrote about investing in a Russian firm, and the tip didn’t work out. Investors complained and the SEC filed fraud charges against Porter. Rey’s job was to clean up Porter’s reputation when he joined the company.
- Evidence #15: According to Allison, Rey was worried or scared about something during the two weeks leading to his death. When the alarms went off at their house, the police concluded a squirrel set it off; however, Allison believes someone was trying to get into their home.
The Police’s Theories
The police had three theories when they were investigating Rey’s death. The first was that he was pushed, or he fell off the top roof of the Belvedere and went through the lower roof, 10-11 stories down. However, the distance from the Belvedere to the hole was 45 feet and virtually impossible to make, even if Rey had been running before jumping off.
The second theory was that Rey fell from the adjacent parking garage. This was discounted though because the top of the garage roof was only 20 feet high and 20 feet away from the hole. The injuries Rey suffered were too intense to have been caused by a 20-foot fall.
Courtesy of Netflix
Thirdly, police contemplated the idea that Rey fell off an 11th-floor ledge that wrapped around the Belvedere. However, to get to those ledges, Rey would’ve had to go through a condo, room, or office, and no one in the building ever saw him. The windows of the building were also half windows and a lot of them did not open.
What the Public Has Found So Far
Netflix has been flooded by tips regarding the Rivera case, and they’ve forwarded all the leads to the police. One of these tips involves the letter that the Rivera family found.
Courtesy of Netflix
Reddit user /zumalightblue found a connection to the events of Rey’s death to a movie he referenced in his letter, The Game. In this 1997 film, a man is tricked into believing his life is falling apart and he jumps through a glass roof to what he believes is death. However, it’s all a scheme to get the man to look at life differently and to appreciate what he has.
Could Rey have been reenacting this scene from the film?
Unsolved Mysteries co-creator, Terry Dunn Meurer, said, “I spoke to [his wife] Allison Rivera about that. She spent a lot of time with that note, as did the FBI, just going through the note trying to figure out if there were any clues or anything else in there. She doesn't place any significance on the movie The Game. Rey liked a lot of different types of movies. He was just a guy who was interested in everything. If he had only ever left just that writing or if it was the only thing he had ever written randomly, then people would be a little bit more suspect. But this is what he did all the time. He kept so many journals full of random writing. Allison feels that she's been through all the journals just trying to find any clue that could help her figure out what happened to him, and she couldn't find any real or strong connections in The Game."
So DMV, what do you think? Rey’s wife believes Rey “turned over a rock he shouldn’t have turned over.” Do you feel the same way? Do some research and see if you can help solve this unsolvable mystery. Let us know what you find in the comments. And, if you find (or know) something that could help solve the case, please reach out to unsolved.com.