Trigger Warning: This article contains references to suicide and violence.
In the very first episode of Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries, we are introduced to the mysterious story of 32-year-old aspiring filmmaker, Rey Rivera.
In May 2006, Rivera abruptly left the home he shared with his wife Allison Rivera, after receiving an urgent phone call. The following week, his decomposed body was found in an abandoned conference room of Baltimore’s Hotel Belvedere.
According to reports, it appeared that Rivera had either fallen, jumped or was pushed from the upper roof, falling through a lower roof into the room.
If he was pushed, no suspects have ever been identified, if he jumped — no one really knew why and to this day, the case has never been closed.
Speaking on Netflix’s You Can’t Make This Up podcast, Unsolved Mysteries showrunner, Terry Dunn Meurer, unveiled new evidence in the case.
According to the producer, Rey had been concerned for his safety in the two weeks before he disappeared.
“There was an incident that happened about a week before Rey disappeared. Alison was training for a triathlon and she wanted to go to the local track and do some sprints. Normally she would just go by herself – Rey was working on a deadline for his project. But he insisted on going with her this day,” Meurer said.
“It was raining, so there was not a lot of people on the track. But there were two guys that came up on the track and when that happened Rey came flying out of the car, according to Alison, and seemed unusually concerned.”
A theory, discussed on the series, was that Rey had lost money following his work with Agora Inc, a job he held at a company that was affiliated with a friend named Porter Stansberry — who offered a reward following his friend’s death, then became quiet.
In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Meurer revealed he had spoken to him, however, he did not want to appear on the show.
From the outset, the death of Rivera was confusing.
It was certain that Rivera had somehow fallen, however, the coroner ruled the death “undetermined” because they were unsure how.
Theories have been thrown around, including one where he was dropped from a helicopter.
Allison said that her husband’s injuries were not consistent with suicide and besides, he was terrified of heights, his family recalled. It would have been “impossible” for him to jump and then fall through the roof the way he did.
His phone survived the fall and was still in-tact.
You have the chance to solve a mystery. How did Rey Rivera end up dead at the Belvedere Hotel? Watch "Mystery on the Rooftop" on Netflix’s Unsolved Mysteries. #unsolvedmysteries #mysterious pic.twitter.com/4LnxO1dKv4
— Unsolved Mysteries (@Unsolved) July 3, 2020
To make matters worse, security video from the hotel was unavailable due to a technical error — there was no way of seeing what actually happened.
The only thing that seemed to explain anything (without really explaining anything) was Rey’s behaviour in the lead up to his death.
According to Allison, he was clearly “terrified” of “something”. The alarm in their home was tripped a few times before his death and a letter was found that he had penned before his death.
The note, which was discovered by his family taped to his home computer screen alongside a blank cheque, was addressed to his brothers and sisters in some sort of code that referred to a “well-played game”.
The FBI ruled it not to be a suicide note but said that it had “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.”
While watching Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix, Reddit user /zumalightblue theorised a connection between Rey’s death and David Fincher’s film, The Game.
“There is one big scene at the end of the movie where the main character jumped off the roof (!) of a fancy hotel and goes through the (glass) roof. The similarities to Rey are truly astonishing,” he wrote.
However, in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Dunn Meurer debunked the theory, saying that his wife didn’t place an emphasis on the film.
“Allison feels that she’s been through all the journals just trying to find any clue that could help her figure out what happened to him, and she couldn’t find any real or strong connections in The Game.”
Rivera’s family and friends did express Rey’s fascination in the Free Masons and on the day he disappeared, enquired about joining. The same day, he bought the book Free Masons for Dummies, however, according to the lodge member Rey had spoken to, there was nothing unusual about his conversation.
The police investigation into his death leaned towards a suicide, however, with no video evidence and all leads gone cold, we may never truly know what happened.
If you or someone you know needs help, please contact BeyondBlue on 1300 224 636 or Lifeline on 13 11 14.