The Body at the Belvedere: An Unsolved Mystery

I’ve been a fan of the show ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ for as long as I can remember. My mom would watch the show during the daytime when she was home with us kids. I was a big fan of playing with Barbie dolls, but anytime I heard Robert Stack’s voice, I’d come running. Not a lot of things scare me, but I’ll tell you what; That voice of his, just seems to always give me goosebumps- even to this day. With that all in mind, and from a few family members and friends requesting- I’ve decided to dedicate one blog a week to each of the new cases that have been covered by the revival of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ on Netflix. This blog, this case is about Rey Rivera.

Episode one of the newly revived ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ on Netflix was titled, ‘Mystery on the Rooftop’. If you haven’t seen it, the episode starts off with an old videotape of a man and women getting ready on their wedding day. On camera, the person filming asks this man, named Rey, what he thinks. Rey is sitting down, putting on and tying his shoes, and he comments that he’s just excited and can’t wait for Allison to come walking down the aisle. The camera switches, and you see a bride is getting ready to leave a room, and a woman’s voiceover says, “We were both so happy.” The next few moments are of this woman recalling her wedding in Puerto Rico to this man while the videotape of the wedding is played. Another family member, Rey’s brother, gives his sentiments about how important it was to Rey to get married in his home country. After a few more moments, the camera stops as the couple- Rey and Allison walk back down the aisle after getting hitched. And as it does, the same woman’s voice says, “I don’t know why he disappeared.” Cut to the infamous opening musical sequence of the show.

Rey Omar Rivera was born on June 10th 1973 to Angel and Maria Rivera. From all reports, Rey was seemingly a happy person and enjoyed life. He was a water polo player, loved to make people laugh and had an unforgettable smile. Rey’s brother said that while they were kids, they moved around a lot due to their father’s profession. He went on to say that because of that reason, it caused the family to become and stay very close. At the time of his disappearance, Rey was a 32 (almost 33) year old finance writer for Stanberry and Associates. Rey and Allison had been married just six months, and they just recently relocated from California to Baltimore so that Rey could work for his best friend- Porter Stansberry. 

During the first episode of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’, Allison details the day leading up to her husband’s disappearance. It was May 16th 2006. She explained that she had to go out of town on business and that her last conversation was at their home as she was about to leave. She told him that she loved him, to which he responded with, “Thank you for loving me so much.” When she arrived at her destination that evening, and although exhausted from traveling, Allison called Rey. When he didn’t answer, Allison called a colleague who was staying at her house. The friend, named Claudia, stated to Allison that she overheard a phone ring around 6:30 and heard Rey answer but leave in a hurry. Claudia tells Allison that she’ll go and check to see if Rey had returned. While on hold, Allison heard Claudia look for Rey, while Claudia mentioned that all the lights were still on and that Rey was still gone.

The next morning, Claudia gives Allison a call around 5:30am. She called to let Allison know that her husband still hadn’t returned home. So Allison cancelled her business trip and began to return home. Allison called all of Rey’s close friends and family, asking if anyone had heard from him. When Allison got back home, she walked in and in the kitchen she found an opened can of soda, a bag of potato chips and his set of Invisaligns. Allison immediately ran upstairs to find their bedroom and office lights on. By 7pm that evening, Rey’s brother and other family members came into town, and Claudia flew back to New York. The episode shows footage of Allison and other family members and friends gathered around her dining room table, each person on the phone with someone to help find Rey. Through the footage, you can see Allison in complete distress, but still holding on and working hard to find her husband. In fact, you see Allison at one point, wiping tears from her face while a family member rubs her back, all while on the phone. Porter Stansberry put up a reward for $1,000 and managed to get the media’s attention. Allison explains that there was no evidence of Rey using their credit cards, no cash was pulled out of any bank accounts that he had access to. His cell phone had gone dead. Though daunting, Allison, her family and friends tried to stay positive. 

“Where is Rey? Where can he possibly be?”, Rey’s mother asked.

Jayne Miller, a reporter for WBAL-TV gives an interview in the episode. She explains that her interest in the case was due to the fact that there was this young man, just 32 years of age who was popular and seemingly loved, just poofed- vanished with no evidence of him trying to run from something. 

Allison says that on the sixth day of searching- on May 22nd, her parents went out to look for Rey’s missing car. That day, Allison’s parents found the missing car in a parking lot behind a building on St Paul Street.  Nothing of evidentiary value was discovered in the car. There was however, a ticket on the car, and the attendant working claimed that the car was left the night of Rey’s disappearance because he found it the morning after. (Obviously this parking attendant didn’t know that the car was Rey’s.) Once the car was found, Jayne Miller explained that more people became interested in the case because of this new clue. The parking lot in which Rey’s car was found, was a parking lot near the Belvedere Hotel. But, the parking lot where Rey’s car was discovered was also in the same area of town where the Stansberry and Associates building was located. So it’s very clear that Rey knew that part of town well. Family and friends grouped together and created little search parties in the area of town where the car was found.  

The next big thing that happened, was that on May 24th someone noticed a big hole in the roof of the Belvedere Hotel. Three of Rey’s co-workers thought to look on the top of the parking garage next to the hotel. When they looked over the edge, they found flip flops on the lower roof area next to a hole. The hole wasn’t all that big. It almost looked like rain had pooled in that spot which might have caused the hole. Those three men immediately called the police. 

At this point in the episode, Gary Shivers- a former Belvedere concierge is interviewed and explained that detectives had come in and requested to get into the space with the hole. Gary says that the space was the old racquetball club, now used as a conference room. When Gary opened up the door to the space, he described an overwhelming stench. They found a body that had come through the roof- explaining the hole. The body was partially decomposed. Authorities called the Rivera family and had them come down to the police station. There, they informed Rey’s loved ones that Rey was found deceased. Rey’s brother says that it was then that the reality of the situation began to seep in. In Rey’s autopsy report, it was concluded that he had several fractured ribs, a punctured lung, deep lacerations, damage to his skull, and a protrusion of bone from his right leg.

The episode then details Belvedere’s inception and Gary Shivers explains that the hotel was ritzy and glamorous, however, if you google the Belvedere Hotel, the second thing that comes up is “belvedere hotel baltimore haunted”. It is now a condominium. 

How in the hell did Rey end up the way that he did? Well, the episode claims that there are a few theories. Theory one is that he jumped (or was pushed off) of the very top of the Belvedere Hotel, and crashed into the second roof that is ten or eleven stories down. The distance from the very top of the hotel to the hole is about 45 feet. Allison claims that her husband was deathly afraid of heights, and can’t understand why the hell he’d be up there. The investigators couldn’t make sense of the evidence, which led to a second theory. Theory two is that he jumped (or was pushed off) of the top of the parking garage. But, the top of the parking garage to where the hole was, was only 20 feet. Investigators quickly eliminated that theory due to the distance- and concluded that a human being could in fact survive a fall of 20 feet. And his injuries were too extensive if he jumped, or was pushed from the top of the parking garage. A third theory is that Reyy jumped (or was pushed) from the 11th floor ledge of the Belvedere. This ledge wraps around the length of the hotel, and if he did come from that ornate ledge, he would have had to go through someone’s room. Investigators quickly dismissed this theory. 

During the investigation, investigators found Rey’s cell phone around the hole. It wasn’t damaged in the least, and was still in working order. His eyeglasses were also found, and they didn’t show any damage either. These two facts don’t make any sense due to the injuries that Rey sustained. His flip flops that were found showed evidence that he might have been dragged since there are scuff marks to them, and one flip flop had the strap broken. Allison shows the flip flops to the camera. An investigator claimed that the cellphone, the glasses and flip flops looked as though they could have been staged because it didn’t fit with any other evidence. Jayne Miller asks, “Well, did they fall with him, or did someone put them there after the fact?” Allison notes that the money clip that she got Rey as a wedding gift (that she had engraved with his initials- and the clip that his brother says that he always kept with him) was not found. 

Rey’s brother claims that there was no way that Rey could just walk into the hotel and walk up, and make it to the top. He, and some others from the episode claim that Rey needed to have known, and have had access to, getting to the top. Noone could place Rey at the hotel, and no videotapes were able to give any evidence that he was there. (BUT- in doing some further research for this blog, I found that a redditor (so take this with a grain of salt) claims that Rey frequented the hotel’s Owl Bar with co-workers, and was seen on the 13th floor the night he went missing- and that there is surveillance footage that exists of Rey entering the hotel’s lobby. Apparently, the footage was shown to multiple news stations at the time.) 

Once the police determined that Rey’s death was a suicide, is when interest in the case died down. However, with that being said, there is no concrete evidence that it was a suicide. It almost seems like the police wanted the investigation to end, so they pulled a conclusion and theory out of their butts. His family and close friends are adamant that Rey didn’t commit suicide. 

Allison had questions upon questions, and went to the medical examiner. At that meeting, the medical examiner pulled Allison in a room, shut the door, and told her that, “I know what they’re trying to do, and we’re not closing this case.” Allison continues on, and says that the medical examiner could not explain the way that Rey’s shins were broken. All the medical examiner would say is that, “it wasn’t consistent.” So, the medical examiner marked Rey’s death as undetermined. 

Allison went back home, and started to rummage through the house- looking for any clues that could give her any information into Rey’s death. Taped to the back of the office computer, was a typed letter. Allison is certain that Rey typed up the note the day that he went missing because there were scraps in the trash can. The note was unusual. Celebrity names, some family names, and people he knew and movies that Rey loved. Allison googled the first sentence of the note, and found that it came from the Freemasons- a secret society. Allison claims that she wasn’t really surprised by the first sentence, because Rey was interested in the ideas of a secret society- especially for a screenplay. The note was given to the FBI- and was concluded that odd as it was, it wasn’t a suicide note. 

When questioned about the moments leading up to Rey’s disappearance, Claudia (the friend that was staying with the Rivera’s) said that when Rey took the phone call, he sounded surprised. She had made a comment to Allison later, that because the bedroom she was in was right next to the office that he was working in, that she felt him push off from the desk. Jayne Miller deduces that whoever was on the other end of the phone made him rush out of his home, park in a hurry and run into the Belvedere. The police traced the call and found that it came from Stansberry and Associates. However, they couldn’t figure out who called because the phone call was made from a switchboard and the police couldn’t track down the extension. The phone call is critical in this case, because the phone call caught Rey by surprise and caused him to leave the safety of his home.

Immediately after Rey’s body was found- within hours, Stansberry and Associates put a gag order in place for all employees. Whoever knew Rey, worked with Rey, or had any knowledge about the night he disappeared weren’t allowed to legally talk to the lead investigators. Obviously, this frustrated not only the police, but Allison. Especially because Porter Stansberry was Rey’s best friend. In fact, Porter refused to cooperate once Rey was found and wouldn’t return investigator’s phone calls. (Can I just put this on record- that anyone who refuses to cooperate with an investigation is somehow involved.) Allison goes on to detail Porter Stansberry and Rey Rivera’s friendship. Rey had known Porter since he was fifteen, and were “pretty thick”. Rey’s mother details that Rey and Porter were on the same water polo team and went to prom together. Porter Stansberry declined requests to be interviewed for the documentary. (Again- Porter Stansberry is clearly trying to hide something!)

**Before Rey was hired, an SEC suit claimed that Stansberry and Associates made up stock tips which led to the firm having to pay 1.5 million in restitution. Their image wasn’t good, so Porter hired Rey to come to work for him to help clean up the firm’s, and Porter’s reputation.** 

With about ten minutes left of the episode, Allison details something that happened at their home just one week before Rey’s disappearance.  At around 1am, their house alarm started to go off. Allison talks about how that alarm never went off before, and how odd it was that it did. During the episode, Allison points to that very alarm which is positioned right outside their master bedroom window. Allison talks about that night that the alarm went off; she descended the stairs to see what was going on, and Rey had came out with a huge baseball bat. She talks about the fear that was prevalent in Rey’s eyes and how the look on his face is what scared her to death. Police came out to the home and concluded that it was just a squirrel. (A squirrel… really? That’s the best they could come up with!?) The alarm went off again, just hours before Rey’s disappearance. Again, it happened around 1am in the morning, and again it scared Rey and Allison half to death. But this time, Allison notes that the front downstairs window had looked like it was tampered with. Somebody was clearly trying to get in the house, and Allison is adamant that it had something to do with Rey’s disappearance because it happened the same day he went missing. 

Towards the very ending of the documentary, one of the lead investigators claims that he had advised Allison to be careful. He talks about how as hard as he was working to solve the case, Allison was working that much harder. Allison was/still is determined to turn every stone over. This same investigator claims that he was one of, if not, the only one to believe that Rey’s death was not suicide and believed that there was enough evidence that it could be considered a homicide. Three weeks into the investigation, this same investigator was resigned. When Allison learned of what had happened, she became more angry and more pissed off. She called the police station, inquiring about the progress of the investigation, and apparently was told to drop it, and get it in her head that Rey committed suicide. To this day, the Baltimore Police Department believes that Rey committed suicide, even though the medical examiner labeled Rey’s death as undetermined. Rey’s brother believes Rey’s death has something to do with money. Allison thinks that Rey stumbled upon something concerning Stansberry and Associates and was ultimately murdered over it. (Here’s what I think: That Rey had stumbled on some sort of incriminating evidence about Porter Stansberry, or maybe just about the firm itself. He might have not known that it was incriminating, but nonetheless, someone from the firm, maybe even Porter himself, murdered Rey over it. I’m well aware that I’m not a trained investigator, but I’ve also seen enough murder-mystery shows to know that stuff like that isn’t a coincidence.) 

The family finishes out the episode with how they’ve been dealing with Rey’s death. They speak about even through their countless joys, there’s still this darkness that hangs over them. Allison talks about not watching their wedding video for six years, and even now, gets choked up over it all. How can she not? Though I don’t know them from Adam, their love is so evident through old footage and picture stills. Allison says at the very end, “I loved him more than anything in the world.” The episode ends with Allison and Rey walking back down the aisle, and the camera zooms in, focuses on Rey and stops. The cryptic and infamous ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ music plays over the image. In white print it reads, “If you have any information regarding the mysterious death of Rey Rivera, go to unsolved.com”. 

Rey with his mother, father and siblings.
Rey and Allison
Rey and Allison on their wedding day
Missing persons poster of Rey- take note of the $1000 reward that Porter Stansberry put up.
The Belvedere Hotel- notice the red dot which indicates where the hole was located.
Image of the hole captured at the time of the investigation
Image depicting the hole and the top of the parking garage.
The now infamous note. Notice how small he made the font. Overall, just a red herring.
Rey with Porter Stansberry- whom I believe knows, or had something to do with Rey’s disappearance and subsequent death.

Published by caitiejobug

I’m a SAHM of one, a loving wife, daughter, and sister. Reading and writing are my favorite hobbies, along with watching true crime documentaries.

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