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.
How did Rivera fall from Hotel Belvedere?
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.
Why was Rivera behaving oddly before his death?
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:
The note was addressed to brothers and sisters and referred to a well-played game. It named people who had died, including actor Christopher Reeve and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick. It also contained a long list of people Rivera knew and was related to, with a request to make them and himself five years younger. The note also introduced an element of the case that involved Rivera's apparent interest in the Free Masons. The note began and ended with phrases used in the Masonic order.
Was Rivera connected to the Freemasons?
A few additional details weren't covered in the episode, which is interesting. There were more details on Rivera's interest in the Freemasons in a WBALTV report: "On the day Rivera disappeared, he'd talked with a member of the Maryland lodge to inquire about joining. On the weekend before his disappearance, he spent time reading the book The Builders, a study of masonry. On the day he disappeared, Rivera went to a bookstore and bought the book Freemasons for Dummies."
Rivera's death is also the subject of a book, An Unexplained Death, the blurb of which reads: "Mikita Brottman spent ten years sifting through the details of the missing man’s life and disappearance, and his purported suicide by jumping from the roof of her own apartment building, the Belvedere." The book dives into the Belvedere's dark history of suicide of its guests, although Brottman speculates that Rivera's death doesn't appear to be one.
Rey's brother Angel told the Washington Examiner that staff told him, apparently off the record, that Rey would have to be pushed to land in the way he did. "Apparently there is another set of doors to the roof, and their impression was that was more logical that he would have been pushed from there," he said.
Angel added that Rey's treasured money clip—referenced in the episode—has never been found. "It was a gift from Allison he carries with him all the time. She saw it that morning in his hand," Angel said. "It was a family heirloom."
This article has been updated. If you have information about Rivera's death, visit unsolved.com.