'Unsolved Mysteries' On Netflix: Who Killed Rey Rivera?

Photo: Netflix
'Unsolved Mysteries' On Netflix: Who Killed Rey Rivera?

He fell through a roof in 2006. But how?

Netflix has rebooted the series Unsolved Mysteries, complete with the iconic theme music. The new series started streaming earlier this month and now fans are scratching their heads trying to be the person to solve the previously unsolvable.

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One of the stories on the reboot is the 2006 death of Rey Rivera. The 32-year-old Baltimore man abruptly left his home one day without explanation. After a week of searching, his body was found in a hotel conference room. There was a hole in the roof of the building where he fell and at first it seemed like death  by suicide. But nothing about the location of the hole or Rivera's death made the suicide theory make sense.

Who Killed Rey Rivera?

What are the facts of the case? 

Rey Rivera had recently married his wife Allison when the couple moved to Baltimore. Rivera had taken a job writing newsletters at his longtime friend Porter Stansberry’s financial research company. He planned to stick with the job only as long as it took him to get his real dream of being a screenwriter off the ground. 

On May 16, 2006, Rivera received a phone call and abruptly left the house, according to a houseguest who was staying with him. His family never heard from or saw him again. Police mounted a search for him and first located his caring a parking lot near his office. It was also close to the Belvedere Hotel, a fancy, upscale hotel in Baltimore. In searching the area near where the car was found, police noticed damage on the roof to the Belvedere. Further investigation revealed that the hole led to a conference room in the hotel and Rivera's dead body was found inside.

Did Rivera die by suicide?

Initial reports flagged the case as a suicide but Rivera's family denied that was even possible. His widow told the Unsolved Mysteries cameras that she's certain he didn't kill himself. “He is not a guy who would jump off a roof. Especially where we were in our lives," she said, referring to their plans to start a family.

Other evidence calls the suicide theory into question as well. For example, it's very difficult to gain access to the roof of the Belvedere. Rivera's brother told cameras that he had tried and wasn't able to get past the lobby, much less up all the locked staircases he would need to access to make it to the roof. 

There was a theory that Rivera jumped from a different building to the Belvedere but the physics of a jump like that doesn't make sense. Also, the size of the hole would fit a body vertically but not horizontally. It would be very unlikely that a person falling from a great height would manage to fall feet first and break through a roof. 

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Rivera's death was finally listed as an undetermined death.

The coroner wasn't able to say for sure what happened. The injuries he sustained were significant, according to Detective Michael Baier. “Multiple ribs fractured, punctured lungs, laceration, damage to his skull, the right leg had two different breaks in it to the point the bone was protruding through the flesh,” Baier told Netflix.

But his phone and glasses were in perfect working condition when police found them at the scene, which was odd. Some experts told Netflix that scene of the death almost seemed staged.

Did his best friend Porter Stansberry have something to do with it?

Rivera had known Frank Porter Stansberry since he was 15 years old and Stansberry stepped up to offer him a job when his film career stalled. Stansberry even offered rewards for information about Rivera's whereabouts when he was missing. But there may have been something more sinister at play between the two men. 

For one thing, the last call Rivera received came from the switchboard of Stansberry's eponymous company that Rivera was working at. Right after police revealed that fact, Stansberry and his staff stopped talking to the media or investigators. It's possible that Stansberry did that to avoid unwanted publicity but he also could have had something to hide. In 2002, his firm had been sued by the SEC for providing fraudulent investment information and in 2007, they were fined $1.5 million after being caught committing securities fraud. 

Rivera's widow thinks her husband had information connected to his job that led someone to kill him and the location of his death, paired with the phone call from the office certainly makes that seem plausible. 

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The Netflix show dropped on July 6.

Did the the Freemasons have anything to do with Rivera's death?

Freemasonry is right up there with the Illuminati in off-the-wall conspiracy theories — in fact some conspiracy theorists have them linked. People have blamed Freemasons for everything from them controlling the world's financial systems to the masons attempting to achieve global domination through a New World Order. Blaming freemasons for a murder would be laughable if Rey Rivera hadn't expressed an interest in freemasonry in the time before his death. 

“He definitely was, you know, kind of curious in just secret societies, the Freemasons,” Allison Rivera noted in Unsolved Mysteries. “And, maybe he was looking to do a screenplay.”

Rivera had been in contact with a local Freemason lodge in Baltimore and had bought books on the subject. Investigators thought he might be delving into the conspiracy aspects of the society. "Based on what we've seen, his interest in the Masonic order was not to do charitable work," Baltimore Police Commander Fred Bealefeld said at the time. "Somehow it was linked to his interest in the movie industry and this theory that somehow there was control being exerted by the Masonic order."

Maybe Rivera thought that joining the Freemasons would help his career. Or maybe he thought that he needed to loosen their purported grip on Hollywood. 

There was also other strange incidents.

Rivera didn't leave a suicide note but he did leave behind a document that his widow found attached behind a computer in their home after his death. The note contained lists of books and movies as well as some things Rivera wrote about the Freemasons. He even referred to a movie called The Game where the protagonist falls through a roof. Viewers wondered if he was acting out that scene when he died or if it's possible Rivera knew he was going to die and the note was in code to reveal critical information about his death. 

In the weeks before his death, Allison Rivera had noted moments where he seemed on edge or frightened. One night, their home security alarm went off and Rivera ran from the bedroom, terrified, wielding a bat. His wife wondered if he thought someone was after him that night. She remains convinced that his fear was based on a real threat that he never shared with her. 

Or maybe he was suffering from unnoticed mental issues. 

The episodes of extreme fear, the strange note, the obsession with a conspiracy theory could also all be symptoms of mental illness, such as schizophrenia. Mental illness doesn't explain say the strange physical evidence at the scene but it does add a different element to the discussions of his state of mind at the time. 

So far, we still don't know what happened to Rey Rivera. Maybe the show will finally lead to a solution to this mystery.

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Rebekah Kuschmider has been writing about celebrities, pop culture, entertainment, and politics since 2010. She is the creator of the blog FeminXer and she is a cohost of the weekly podcast The More Perfect Union.

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