REY RIVERA: Found dead in Baltimore, MD in 2006 - Was it really suicide?


The Death of Rey Rivera Remains Unsolved To This Day

Trigger warning: Violence and a brief reference to suicide.

In the first episode of Netflix's rebooted Unsolved Mysteries series, the mysterious and tragic story of Rey Rivera—the 32-year-old writer who dreamed of starting a family with wife Allison Rivera and writing movie scripts—unfolds in detail. On May 16, 2006, Rivera received an urgent phone call and rushed out of the house. His body was found in an empty conference room of Baltimore's Hotel Belvedere a week later. The police have not identified any suspects in his death.

It appeared that Rivera had fallen, jumped, or been pushed from the upper roof, but the case was controversial and confusing from the start. Odd details included Rivera's unusual trajectory from the roof and a final note from Rivera with references to the Freemasons.

The coroner ruled the death "undetermined," and, according to Allison, said that Rey's injuries were not fully consistent with suicide. There were other odd details: It would have been very difficult, if not impossible, for Rey to have jumped off the upper roof and gone through the lower roof in the way he did. His phone was found on the roof, undamaged, and his flip flops were nearby—one of the straps had come off, but they were otherwise intact. Rey's family said he was not under any emotional distress or suicidal, and also noted that he was terrified of heights. The security video from the hotel was unavailable because of a technical error.

What's even stranger is that Rey's behavior before his death had become odd. The alarm to their home was tripped twice in the weeks before he died, and Allison said he was clearly terrified.

Shortly before he died, Rey wrote a long, stream of consciousness note discovered by his family, reports local station WBALTV, that may have been written in some kind of code and was ruled by the FBI not to be a suicide note:

How did Rey Rivera die? Netflix’s ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ explores questions in 2006 death of Baltimore man

Netflix’s “Unsolved Mysteries” reboot dropped this week, and the first episode explores unanswered questions in the death of Rey Rivera, a 32-year-old Baltimore man found dead in 2006.

Rivera’s unexplained death at the Belvedere Hotel was chalked up to a suicide by the Baltimore Police Department. His body was found with fatal injuries in an unused conference room at the hotel, under a hole that suggested he’d fallen through the roof, about a week after he went missing.

But the medical examiner’s office, unconvinced of the evidence, labeled his cause of death “undetermined,” and Rivera’s widow, brother and mother and the lead homicide detective on the case provided interviews to Netflix show’s producers, laying out their reasons for suspecting foul play.

The case has been featured on the popular Crime Junkie podcast, and was the subject of a book, “An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere” by Mikita Brottman.

So what happened? Here are the basic details of the case:

Who was Rey Rivera?

The 32-year-old was a writer and freelance videographer and his girlfriend, Allison, whom he later married, had moved to a home in Baltimore’s Original Northwood neighborhood in December 2004, for a job working for his best friend, Frank Porter Stansberry.

The 53-minute “Mystery on the Rooftop” episode opens with footage of the couple laughing and beaming at their wedding six months before his death, and quotes family members saying Rey had showed no signs of mental or psychological distress.

Rey and Allison did not plan to stay long in Baltimore, however, and had put their house on the market, with plans to move to Los Angeles, where Rey wanted to pursue a career in movies, his widow said.

His disappearance

Allison said her husband had made her breakfast before she left for a business trip on the morning of May 16, 2006, and a friend of hers who was staying at the house said she had heard him answer the phone, then leave in a hurry in his flip-flops — leaving several of the lights on behind him.

His older brother Angel Rivera, a radio producer in Orlando, Florida, who is interviewed in the documentary, was among the family members who traveled to Baltimore to help search for Rey.

“It’s completely out of character,” Angel Rivera told The Sun at the time. “He’s not only going to tell you where he’s going; he’s going to tell you how he got there. For him to go this long and not contact any of his family or friends, it’s got everyone scared.”

Family members reported him missing and searched for him, eventually finding Allison’s vehicle, which he had left parked in a Mount Vernon parking lot near the Belvedere and Stansberry and Associates, where he worked. Looking down from the top of the adjacent parking garage, they noticed a hole in one of the hotel’s lower roofs below.

Stansberry, who swam and played water polo with Rivera, and had been friends since they were 15, offered a $1,000 reward for information when he went missing.

“He’s a happy guy,” Stansberry told The Sun at the time. “He and his wife had just booked a trip to go to New Mexico in a few weeks. This is not a man that wanted to leave. I’ve got to find my friend. I can’t imagine my life without him. He’s my best friend.”

But after investigators traced a call to Rivera’s cellphone from the financial newsletter company on the night of his death, according to the documentary, the company put a gag order on its employees so that they couldn’t discuss the case with police or anyone else. Stansberry did not sit for an interview in the Netflix documentary.

Stansberry, now Stansberry Research, is the largest operating subsidiary of Baltimore-based Agora Publishing, the world’s largest investment newsletter company through its holdings, according to its website.

David Churbuck, a publicist at Sitrick & Co., a crisis management firm hired by Agora earlier this year, denied Thursday that Stansberry’s employees had been barred from speaking about the case.

“There was no gag order or direction given to employees to not speak to the press, law enforcement or any other party,” Churbuck told The Sun in a phone interview. “Any suggestion to the contrary is untrue.”

Churbuck also said the reward Stansberry offered for information was increased to $5,000 days later. The publicist said he did not know whether anyone ever claimed the money.

How did Rivera die?

Police said suicide, that he must have jumped off the roof of either the hotel or the parking garage. (The police department did not respond to a request for comment on the case Thursday.)
Rivera’s family and Michael Baier, the retired homicide detective who investigated the case, are skeptical of that explanation.

They point to the fact that, despite Rivera suffering a slew of fatal injuries, his eyeglasses and phone were found undamaged. They note the call to his phone from the Stansberry and Associates switchboard, and the company’s immediate move to gag its employees. Additionally, they cite the medical examiner’s decision to mark the cause “undetermined,” rather than “suicide,” as police had concluded.

Baier said he noticed inconsistencies in the hole in the roof and how Rivera’s body was found.

“To me, it looked staged,” he said in the documentary.

Allison Rivera said her husband was afraid of heights. She said she never found his money clip, a prized possession he took with him everywhere. And he had told her he wanted to start a family.

“He wanted a baby so bad,” she said. “He wanted a family so bad.”

If it was a murder, what was the motive?

Allison Rivera thinks her husband had discovered “some kind of information” that was highly sensitive and others didn’t want getting out.

“I believe Rey was murdered,” she said in the documentary. “What would that information be?”

Do you have any information in the case? If so, you can send tips to the producers of Unsolved Mysteries online.


Staff member
Is anyone else watching the Unsolved Mysteries reboot on Netflix? I found this case really interesting. Any thoughts?
My first instinct was suicide. But the more I watched the less convinced I became. I know that's kind of the point of the show, but I'm not sure suicide is the answer here.


Staff member
This link seems to have a pretty good case summary.

Rey and Allison Rivera moved to Baltimore after Rey’s long-time friend, Porter Stansberry, offered him a job writing financial newsletters. On May 16, 2006, Allison left Baltimore for a business trip. Later that evening, Allison called Rey but he didn’t answer. That night, Allison called her colleague Claudia, who was staying at her house in Baltimore. Claudia informed Allison that at around 6:30 p.m., Rey was on the receiving end of a phone call that led to him running out of the house in a hurry. Rey never returned.

A frantic Allison returned home and the search for Rey commenced. On May 22, Rey’s car was found behind a building near the Belvedere Hotel (and Stansberry & Associates). A parking ticket confirmed the car had been there for six days. Next, a couple of Rey’s co-workers noticed a hole in the roof of the Belvedere Hotel. Tragically, the body of Rey Rivera had been located.

How did Rey get through the hole? Did he jump? Was he pushed? Was it murder? Suicide? A psychotic break? It seemed virtually impossible that Rey, a man who was afraid of heights and wearing flip flops, could run, jump off the roof, and reach the hole, which was an estimated 45 feet away, on his own. Adding to the confusion, Rey’s cellphone was found, in working order and no cracks, near the hole.

Puzzling Details Regarding The Case:
  • Rey’s flip flops were found on the roof, one broken and one with fresh drag marks.
  • Rey’s money clip, which was an engraved wedding gift from Allison that he always carried with him, was never found.
  • The rooftop camera had suspiciously been disconnected on the evening of his death.
  • The way Rey’s shins were broken were inconsistent with his fall.
  • The day Rey went missing, he wrote a cryptic note that Allison found taped to a computer that included lists of names, movies, and a quote from the Freemasons. Rey was an aspiring writer/director, which could explain some of the contents of the note.
  • The phone call Rey received that led to him quickly exiting his house came from Stansberry & Associates, which is where Rey worked.
  • According to the episode, Stansberry & Associates put a gag order on all their employees mere hours after Rey’s body was discovered.
  • Rey’s long-time friend and founder of the company, Porter Stansberry (who, again, got Rey the job), wouldn’t speak to the authorities.
  • The SEC had previously filed fraud charges against Stansberry, and according to Allison, one of Rey’s responsibilities at work was to help clean up Porter’s reputation.
  • Two weeks before he died, something was worrying Rey. Then night before he went missing, the Rivera’s house alarm went off at 1:00 a.m. Allison relayed how a frantic Rey ran outside with a bat. The police said it was a squirrel. The next day, the alarm again went off and the window had appeared to be tampered with, like someone was trying to break into their house.
  • Stansberry & Associates Investment Research is now known as Stansberry Research.


Truth for Tom Brown
I just watched this episode last night and I have many questions - mainly for Porter Stansberry. His behaviour is very odd to say the very least.

The reboot of this series is very good - more like something you would see on ID vs the way the original series ran. I'll be watching some more episodes!


Wow, this sounds like an interesting one just from what I read here.

I will keep it short although there is much here. This room just happens to be abandoned so no one finds him and the surveillance happens to not be working? What are the odds just in that and who knew this room was abandoned and not checked? Odd place for a hole/jump... And lo and behold into an unused room... Without anything else, of which there seems to be much, that is enough for me to go oh, really... Yah, right... I don't think so...


Well-known member
I saw this episode and it is very baffling. It is very strange where they show wgere he jumped and went through the roof. Seemed impossible. Like he was dropped from the sky.


Well-known member
I just watched this episode last night and I have many questions - mainly for Porter Stansberry. His behaviour is very odd to say the very least.

The reboot of this series is very good - more like something you would see on ID vs the way the original series ran. I'll be watching some more episodes!
I do prefer the old format. But yet it certainly wouldn't be the same without Robert Stack anyway. I would pick Bill Curtis.

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