Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries proved a huge hit with viewers, and left viewers open-mouthed with several questions left unanswered.
The first episode “Mystery on the Rooftop” profiled the case of Rey Rivera, who died in mysterious and suspicious circumstances. The 50-minute episode raised significant suspicions of key personnel, and essentially proved the official story – that Rey died by suicide – as false.
In this article, we take a look at the case, some of the key elements of the disappearance, and questions what might have happened to Rey Rivera.
Who was Rey Rivera?
At the time of his disappearance, Rey was 32 years old. He was married to his wife Allison Rivera, with viewers shown some footage from their idyllic wedding day. Rey also had a loving extended family – including his mother Maria and his brother Angel.
Rey was a huge film fan, and he and Alison had originally lived in California, as Rey chased his dream of becoming a screenwriter-cum-actor. But as so many have found both before and since Rey, it is incredibly difficult to make a career in the film industry.
The Rivera’s move to Maryland
With this not providing enough income, Rey turned to his friend Porter Stansberry – who lived across the country in Baltimore, Maryland. Rey and Porter had been friends throughout high school, having played water polo at a high level together. They had remained friends in their adult years.
Porter had a company in Maryland – Stansberry Associates – which wrote financial newsletters. Porter had supposedly always wanted Rey to work and write for him, despite Rey knowing very little about finance. Eventually, Porter’s persistence paid off, with Rey and Allison relocating in 2004 to Maryland.
They found their feet in Baltimore quickly – finding friends, a Church, and a loving community. Allison said that they were “so happy”. Harrowingly, this didn’t last for long.
Rey Rivera Disappears
Fast-forward to May 2006, and Allison was leaving for a business trip. Allison remembers the morning fondly, as Rey made her breakfast and helped her to the car with her suitcase.
At 18:30 pm in the evening, Allison called Rey, but there was no answer, which Allison said was “strange”. She then called their houseguest – a colleague called Claudia – who told her at around 18:30pm in the evening, that Rey had received a phone call, before running out of the house in a hurry. She said that Rey had not returned.
At 05:30am the following morning, Claudia called Allison to inform her that Rey had still not come home. Allison started to return home, and attempted to contact a range of people – Rey’s mother and brother among others. No one had seen Rey anywhere.
Upon returning to the house, Allison noticed a can of soda was open, as was a bag of potato chips and his invisaligns (braces), with all the lights on too. It seemed that as Claudia had said, that Rey had made a sudden exit. Claudia subsequently returned to New York, which allowed family members to stay in the house while trying to locate Rey.
The Search for Rey Rivera
Allison and her family then set up her dining room to be a base of operations, as they launched into a search for Rey. They called hospitals, coffee shops and restaurants among other places, attempting to find out if anyone knew of Rey’s whereabouts.
Unfortunately, there was no sign of Rey – and there was no sign of life, with no phone calls, credit card payments or cash withdrawals having been made since Rey’s disappearance. The family were left with many unanswered questions, with Rey seemingly vanishing without trace.
Porter put up a reward of $1,000 for Rey’s return, but still, no information turned up. Six days later, while searching car park’s for Rey’s car, Allison’s parents found Rey’s car. A ticket was on the car, with the car parking attendant suggesting that the car must have been parked there since the night of Rey’s disappearance.
Investigators confirmed that there was nothing of evidentiary value in Rey’s car, and that his cell phone was missing. They stated that there was simply “no logical reason for him to disappear”. Large searches took place around the vicinity of the car, though still there were no signs of Rey. This tragically changed two days later.
The Hole in the Lower Roof
The car park was located near the large Belvedere Hotel, as well as Rey’s workplace – Stansberry Associates. On May 24, three of Rey’s colleagues walked to a parking lot near the Belvedere Hotel, in an effort to look at the scene from a height. Once there, they noticed a rather peculiar sight.
On the lower roof of the Belvedere Hotel, a pair of flip-flops were next to a hole. The hole was unreachable by foot, to see it, a person would need to be on top of the entire Belvedere Hotel, or on top of the parking lot. The three men called the Police.
The Police gained access to where the hole was. The hole went into a small building that an old racquetball club used to meet at. Tragically, the body of Rey was found. He had caused the hole in the roof, which was made of metal – meaning that Rey had come through the hole with significant force.
The Suspicious Circumstances of Rey’s Death
Rey’s death left his family devastated. The Police launched an investigation. The body was decomposed, having been there for eight days between May 16 and May 24. The chain of events that followed are scarcely believable.
Rey’s autopsy found grave injuries, such as rib fractures, skull damage, deep lacerations and lung punctures. This led investigators to believe that Rey had fell from a large height, and that he would’ve entered the building vertically, enabling the injuries to occur.
Originally there were three theories put forward from the limited information that investigators had at this point:
- Theory One: Rey fell from the top of the Belvedere Hotel
Initially, it was thought that Rey could have fallen from the top of the enormous Belvedere Hotel. But the hole was at a 45 feet angle from the top of the Belvedere, meaning that it was highly unlikely that Rey could’ve fell from there and landed where his body was found. He would have needed a fast run-up and enormous, Olympics-standard leap – but he was in flip-flops, surely meaning this was a physical impossibility.
Allison also mentioned that Rey was afraid of heights, and that there would be no reason for Rey to be up there. This theory seemed to make no sense.
- Theory Two: Rey fell from the top of the Parking Lot
The next logical step, given that the first theory didn’t seem to be a physical possibility, was that Rey could’ve fallen from the parking lot.
Again though, this theory didn’t make sense. The fall from the top of the parking lot to the hole was 20 feet – something that most able-bodied adults would be able to easily survive, probably with just a grazed knee. A fall from that height could not cause the injuries that Rey suffered.
- Theory Three: Rey fell from the 11th Floor ledge
One of the more feasible theories is that Rey fell from a ledge that wrapped around the whole building. It was difficult to get to the ledge however, with none of the hallways leading directly to the ledge. The windows were also half-windows, which meant that even if a person did reach a room that was surrounded by the ledge, that it would be difficult to get onto the ledge.
The Pieces Don’t Add Up
A new development came in the case when Rey’s cell phone was discovered on the roof. Suspiciously, the phone was in full working order, with minor damage. Even in an age where Gorilla Glass is normal to see on a phone, a fall from a few feet onto a wooden floor is enough to smash a phone’s screen. Yet Rey’s phone appeared unscathed.
Rey’s glasses were also found on the roof. Once again, not a scratch. If Rey had fallen from a height wearing his glasses, there would simply be very little chance of his glasses being left in even 1000 pieces or shards. Yet there they were, in full working order.
A sceptic may suggest that these things could feasibly happen, even if the odds are 1 in 10 million – there is always that one case. But both of these items surviving the fall that Rey supposedly had – not in a billion years. It became clear that the glasses and phone had been placed on the rooftop after Rey’s fall, suggesting something very nefarious.
Rey’s flip flops were also on the roof, and appeared to show signs of a person being dragged. All of these factors combined suggested one simple conclusion – that Rey’s death scene had been staged. Someone had put them there after Rey had fallen.
Something else that didn’t seem to make any sense was that no one at the hotel had seen anything suspicious. The Belvedere is a huge hotel with windows on every floor, yet no one saw anything remotely odd. Investigators checked CCTV footage to see if Rey had been in the hotel that night – they found no evidence to suggest that he was.
Critically, yet conveniently some might say, the camera on the rooftop was out of order, and therefore did not capture any footage of anything that happened on the rooftop that night. Again, this was highly suspicious.
Despite all of the above suspicions, the Police reached the conclusion that Rey had intentionally fell from the roof, in an apparent suicide. Yet there was little evidence to suggest this. But the Police closed the case, satisfied with their conclusion.
The Case Against Rey’s Death being a Suicide
As if all of the above wasn’t enough evidence to cast significant doubt on a suicide being the cause of death, there was more vidence. Family and friends state that Rey was in a happy state, with a loving wife, and the two had plans to have a child together.
Moreover, medical examiners who had carried out the post-mortem examination on Rey’s body found that some of Rey’s injuries weren’t consistent with his supposed fall, including Rey’s shin injuries. Unfortunately, the medical examiners said it was “unclear”, with no further analysis given.
Rey’s cause of death was listed as “undetermined” in his post-mortem. This concluded that there was not enough information to accurately state what had caused Rey’s death.
Rey’s Strange Notes
However, back at the Rivera household, a strange note, that had been taped to the back of Rey’s computer, was found. The note was about half of the size of a regular A4 piece of paper. Allison stated that Rey had written the note on the day of his disappearance, due to the remainder of the A4 piece of paper having been put in the bin.
The note started out as “Brothers and Sisters”, but didn’t make much sense. It included the line “whom virtue unites, death will not separate”. The note featured a raft of names – including people he knew, famous movie stars, and some of his favourite films.
It wasn’t known why these names, films and words were compuled. Rey spoke of “secrets” in the note too. Upon searching some of the words of the note into Google, Allison found that the results linked to the Freemasons, which she said wasn’t unusual, given that Rey had an interest in, and curiosity towards, secret societies.
It is possible that Rey had used the note as a plan of sorts for a movie script – perhaps rekindling his hopes of becoming a screenwriter. The note was certainly seen as unusual, with one person in the documentary speculating that it was cryptic, and that it was probably code for something else.
The note finished “that was a well-played game. Congratulations to all who participated. “Life is a test to see if you can control your spirit. Take care, and enjoy your festivities”. The note was not seen as a suicide note, leaving more questions than answers.
Other Strange Occurrences
Allison also questioned why Rey left in such a hurry. Rey had spoken briefly to someone on the phone, before hurrying out of the house. The phone call was traced to Stansberry Associates. Unfortunately, the call came from the switchboard, meaning that it was a mystery who the exact caller had been.
In another unusual turn of events, on the day that Rey’s body was found, within hours, Stansberry Associates had put a gag order on their employees – meaning they were not legally allowed to speak to investigators.
Of course, his friend Porter was the owner of the company – and surely the person behind the gagging order. Porter refused to speak to investigators, nor the family of Rey. At the very least, this is suspicious. At worst, this position that Porter takes appears to make him look culpable.
At the time of his death, Rey had been working on something called the “Rebound Report”. It was a newsletter that provided stock tips to investors. Rey had the task of trying to clean up the reputation of the newsletter, following a previous controversy.
Before Rey’s arrival, the newsletter had predicted that a Russian firm was worth heavily investing in, as it was allegedly going to discover mass quanitieis of lucrative Uranium. But the tip didn’t work out, and the SEC went as far as to file fraud charges against Porter Stansberry. They were fined $1.5million.
Allison recalled that on May 15 – the day before Rey disappeared – a security alarm went off in the house at around 1am. This alarm hadn’t ever gone off before. Allison went downstairs to see what was happening. She recalled how Rey had come flying out from a corner armed with a large bat, looking petrified.
Allison said how Rey was never scared of anything normally. The Police were called out, but they said that a squirrel had caused the alarm to go off.
The next night, the alarm went off again. There were signs that one of the windows had been tampered with, and that someone had tried to gain access to the house. Allison stated that she believed it was connected to the disappearance of Rey.
The Family’s Theory
Allison believed that Rey had some sort of information, and that he was murdered as a result. She didn’t know what that information was – but just that it was enough to make someone need to kill Rey.
Rey’s brother Angel also supported this theory, suggesting that the death was linked to money. Angel made the point that money is so often the cause, or at leas t a strong factor, in a murder case.
For the family, it was deeply distressing to have to hear by the Police that it was a suicide. The evidence suggested that this was not the case. Unfortunately, it seems that it is very convenient for a lot of people to keep this case quiet.
Needless to say, Porter refused to partake, or be interviewed by, the documentary. It wouldn’t be out of order to call Porter a coward – from what we know. After all, this was supposedly one of his best friends, and he was the reason that Rey travelled to Baltimore in the first place.
By refusing to engage with the Rivera family, it immediately makes Porter look suspicious. Without doubt, Porter knows something, but he is yet to reveal anything.
But is there something even bigger at play here? Could Porter have been pushed into keeping his mouth shut by a bigger, shadowy and more powerful figure. We might not ever know.
Reader Vote: What Do You Think?
Ultimately, this case looks like it will never be solved. Unless someone with information steps out of the shadows, we are unlikely to ever get answers.
For Rey’s family, this is a bitter pill to swallow. As Allison said right at the start of the episode, it seems that Rey “turned over some rock that he shouldn’t have turned over”.
Without doubt, this case absolutely stinks of foul play. If you do have any information, the documentary creators have urged you to visit unsolved.com and to get in contact with the team.
Unsolved Mysteries is available on Netflix.