Unsolved Mysteries - Mystery on the Rooftop | My Dissection of this Conspiracy Theory

Unsolved Mysteries - Mystery on the Rooftop Conspiracy

Well, the classic Unsolved Mysteries is back in a new Netflix reboot. And, boy, has it started off on a kooky foot.

In the first volume's first episode, entitled Mystery on the Rooftop, we have what's likely a tragic suicide at play. Only, the series is really pushing hard to make us believe that something more sinister was going on. Something involving rich fatcats, shady businessmen, and (bizarrely) the freemasons. I had to doublecheck to make sure I hadn't accidentally turned on InfoWars by mistake.

Clearly, this new Unsolved Mysteries has decided to throw rationality to the wayside and just go for whatever zany narrative makes for a more compelling story. Because, as all forms of media seem intent on reminding us (ad nauseam), that's infinitely more important than teaching viewers about logic, reason, evidence, or critical thinking. (Click here for more on that unfortunate psychological phenomenon.)

But anyway. The story revolves around a failed 32-year-old screenwriter named Rey Rivera. He's the victim in this case. One day he received a mysterious phone call, then "rushed out", and wasn't seen again for several days. His body was later found inside of an abandoned conference room at Baltimore’s historic Belvedere Hotel. Having plunged through the roof of the room, his corpse had been lying there for days. Authorities concluded that Rivera had jumped off the top of the 14-story building and crashed straight through a lower roof of the empty meeting room, landing on the floor.

The building that Rey Rivera jumped off from (the hole where he landed is represented by the red dot)
The hole that Rey Rivera's body resulted in
Where Rey Rivera's body made its final landing

His family (as is so often the case) refused to believe this was a suicide. As does one detective and a journalist, who we also see interviewed in the episode.

The Autopsy Report and Unsolved Mysteries' Deceptive Reporting

Nearly every other authority figure involved in this thing does seem to believe the death was likely a suicide. Excluding, perhaps, a medical examiner who we never actually hear from but who concluded that the cause of Rivera's death was "undetermined". This, according to Rivera's wife, was due to several broken bones Rivera received that the examiner allegedly said were inconsistent with him having plummeted from a 14-story building, crashed through the roof of a different area, and then smashed into a floor.

However, I went ahead and paused the episode while the actual report was briefly shown on the screen, in order to try and read it for myself. Because, frankly, I don't trust Netflix. 

As it turned out, that mistrust was warranted. The autopsy report states that the cause of death was ruled UNDETERMINED because "circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear". It says nothing about this determination being due to the condition of his legs or any other bodily injury. I highlighted some of the most important bits below.

And, here, I've written out the parts that could be made out (I'll insert a "BLANK" for the areas that couldn't be seen on screen):

(Unk. #06-3524)
Case Number: #06-3524

This 32 year-old, Hispanic male, REY OMAR RIVERA, formerly Unknown #06-3524, died of multiple injuries sustained as a result of precipitation from a 13 story building. According to investigation, the decedent had been missing for approximately one week, and was discovered moderately decomposed, in a locked conference room on the second floor of the building. A hole was in the roof above his body. Injuries at the time of autopsy were consistent with a fall from a height, and included multiple lacerations (tearing of the skin), abrasions (scrapes), and contusions (bruises), multiple skull fractures with injury of the brain, multiple fractures of the sternum and ribs (bones of the chest) with injuries of the heart and lungs, and fracture of the right tibia and fibula (bones of the lower leg). Because the circumstances surrounding the incident are unclear, and it is not known how the deceased came to have precipitated
the manner of death is best classified as UNDETERMINED
in the decomposition fluid may be entirely or in part
changes. Toxicology testing for drugs was negative
As you can see, the report clearly states that the injuries sustained by Rivera were consistent with a fall from a height. And then the report went on to tell what all of those injuries were. Including, as you can see, the injury of a "fracture of the right tibia and fibula", which this series deceptively highlights as we listen to his wife incorrectly claim that the injuries to his legs weren't consistent with the fall. The blatant dishonesty involved in this conspiracy-mongering is jaw-dropping (incidentally, I had to go fix Wikipedia's article on Rivera's death as well, due to this misrepresentation).

Furthermore, "Undetermined" doesn't mean "it wasn't suicide". It simply means that "we can't be sure" of what events led up to the death or what actually resulted in him falling. Which is an understandably cautious determination by a medical examiner. Here's a quick Google result from LegalBeagle.com to explain it further.

This "Undetermined" death status isn't evidence that something sketchy happened; it's simply an honest statement that we don't know what caused it to happen. 

And, indeed, we can't be sure that Rivera wasn't slung off from the roof by someone. Or that he didn't accidentally slip and fall. Or that he wasn't killed elsewhere and later dragged to the spot where he was found (although, this seems unlikely). But, as usual, before we assume foul play, we need a good reason to arrive at that conclusion.

And what's the evidence spoken about on this episode of Unsolved Mysteries?
1. We're assured that Rivera would never do such a thing, that he had too much to live for, that he was happy, that he had no mental problems, et cetera
Rey Rivera with his wife

While this appears to be the biggest factor that the family brings up (not just in the episode, but in older news reports), it's sadly not evidence of anything. 

How many times have we heard these same words come out of the mouths of grieving friends and family members of other people who we know have killed themselves? That they never thought the victim was capable of such a thing? That the victim seemed so happy? That this came as a complete shock and was utterly unlike them? 

We hear this so often that it's become almost cliche. It's not an unusual thing to hear from a family who has experienced loss. And it boils down to the old argument fallacy of incredulity.

Argument from Incredulity definition

While this is an understandable reaction to have when a loved one dies, the fact of the matter is that we can never truly know what's going on in the hearts and minds of anyone — even those closest to us. They could have depths of depression that we had no inkling of. They could have mental problems that we weren't aware of (either new or pre-existing). As tragic as it is, we can't always be aware of what demons are secretly tormenting the people we love.

This isn't proof that Rivera did have mental or emotional issues. It's just to say that the possibility shouldn't be discounted due simply to the opinions of those who knew him.

2. The distance from the roof to where Rivera's body was found seems too far off for someone to have jumped
“An engineering study obtained by The Examiner concluded that based on the distance that Rivera’s body landed from the wall, estimated to be roughly 43 feet, he would have been running roughly 11 miles per hour.”
This article, obviously, is also pushing toward a more "he didn't kill himself" narrative. But, nevertheless, even they admit that if someone were running, then they could easily land where Rivera did. And, going by a quick Google search of average running speeds, you find:

This shows that someone who is in "relatively" peak shape can comfortably run between 10 to 15 miles per hour. And if they were pushing themselves, could go even faster. And while we can't say for certain how "peak" of shape the 6 feet 5 inches tall, 250 pound Rey Rivera was in, he looked fit enough.

Rey Rivera in a swimming pool

In the Unsolved Mysteries episode, they attempt to combat this theory of him having been running by stating that since he was wearing sandals, he wouldn't have been able to pull off such a speed. This seems to really be grasping for excuses to fit their pre-established narrative, in my opinion. Slip on some sandals and go outside right now. Test this theory. Have a run. I assure you, it's not as difficult as they portray. He didn't have to run far, after all.

Also, we can't be certain that Rivera actually jumped from the roof either. He may have also (as mentioned in the episode) fallen from a ledge which is closer to the hole. I've included a photograph below.

The direction Rivera may have fallen if he jumped from the ledge of the Belvedere Hotel

This ledge, as you can see, would explain things fairly well. In this instance, the only real question would become "how'd he get up there?" But, as you can see from the photo below (and as mentioned in the episode) there are plenty of windows scattered around this area that all lead directly onto that ledge.

A ledge that Rey Rivera may have jumped from

The skeptical detective interviewed in the series (the only detective who didn't believe it was a suicide) attempts to discount him having gone through a window by claiming that he'd have had to have gone through an office, a room, or a condo to arrive at this spot. The series doesn't dig into this matter too deeply, however, so we don't actually get to learn whether or not these rooms were occupied by anyone at the time, whether they were unlocked and easily accessed, whether the windows were unlocked or open at the time, or anything like that. It seems almost as if the series was uninterested in investigating or following up on this possibility. Perhaps because it would've made for a less interesting narrative?

3. Despite the catastrophic injuries to Rivera, his glasses were relatively still intact and his phone was only partially damaged and in full working order when recovered
Rey Rivera's cellphone

"The phone is one of those things that I will never forget. I mean, you can go anywhere right now and drop your phone from three stories and something's gonna happen to it" the detective tells us.

And, just as he says, we can clearly see that something did happen to Rey Rivera's phone. It only takes a glance at the condition of the thing to see that it's far from pristine. It's chipped and cracked all over the place. It may work, yes, but it's obviously suffered some damage.

It has to be kept in mind, by the way, that this wasn't an iPhone where too stern of a look could potentially spiderweb the screen. This is the type of phone that didn't even require a cover. These things are extremely durable and have very tiny screens. Just because you drop one from a great height does not guarantee that it's going to shatter and stop working. Plenty of us dropped ours out the window of speeding cars back in the day, had them slam into the pavement, and then continue functioning afterward. It simply depends on how they land. In fact, this sturdiness is so well-known that it's something people commonly joke about

Also, we don't know how these objects fell. We don't know if they fell off his body early in the drop, if they bounced out of his pocket after hitting the roof, what they may have landed on and bounced off from, or if his body cushioned their landing. Perhaps the series should have experimented by taking a couple of duplicate phones and dropping them off from the building to see how they held up afterward?

"It's just odd that for the force it took for him to go through that roof, that the cellphone and glasses would survive that force," the journalist says.

What's also being overlooked here is air resistance. While Rey Rivera may have fallen quite fast and landed with a lot of force, neither his glasses nor cellphone would have landed nearly as hard as him (unless they were on him during the entire drop, in which case his own body may very well have cushioned their landing). These objects are so small that the air would have slowed them down, lowering their velocity; thus reducing how hard they're going to smash into anything (especially with the wind taking hold of them). This is the reason why if you toss a coin off the Empire State Building, the person it hits isn't going to be very hurt. Toss a human body off from the Empire State Building, on the other hand, and it's almost certainly going to kill whoever is unfortunate enough to be under it.

4. A money clip given to him by his wife (an heirloom of her family) was never found; Rivera was known to always carry it with him and his wife saw it in his hand the day of his disappearance
Rey Rivera's missing money clip

Unless this money clip is later found covered in blood in Stansberry's pocket, this point is a bit irrelevant. He could have lost this thing anywhere. In fact, it could even still be around that building somewhere. It's a very small item that can easily become lost and even could have gotten carried away in the wind.

5. The mystery behind Rivera's cryptic note
Rivera's note was found taped on the back of a computer

Personally, I find it highly unlikely that this note was an indicator of anything. I find it highly unlikely that it was even "a note" meant for anyone, for that matter. 

Especially considering the fact that the man in question was a known film-buff, writer, and habitual jotter of random notes, thoughts, diary entries, and ideas (which the episode shows evidence of him leaving around all over the place). Heck, I do the same thing. If you were to rummage around my house right now, you'd find all kinds of random, seemingly-nonsensical stuff I've put on paper. Random lists of my favorite nuclear war movies, for example, my favorite directors, pseudo-intellectual jibber-jabber (this blog is a good example of that, by the way), funny ideas, jokes, story ideas, references that I wanted to remember, random things I've researched, things I'd do with a million dollars, and so on and so forth. My mother was the same way. Sometimes I'd find a pieces of paper laying around that would have a paragraph-long diary entry of mundane events, an illegible (to me) bit of shorthand, a random recipe, some phone numbers, a famous quote, and a shopping list... all on one page.

A lot of people are like this. We write down weird stuff. Normally, no one would think twice about it. If any of us were to ever go on a murder spree, however, I'm sure everyone would eagerly start sifting through them all, trying to decipher meaning out of them. That's how humans behave when we're on a search for answers. We scrape the bottom of the barrel, analyzing meaningless things in a desperate pursuit for clues to a larger truth.

The only especially odd things about the Rivera "note" is how small the printed out page was and that it was taped onto the back of his computer. But, again, this isn't really an implication of anything, per se. It's just a curiosity ("I don't understand" doesn't equate to "evidence for what I want to believe"). And what's more likely, really? That he'd stashed this thing in hopes that his family would one day find it and suddenly become master codebreakers capable of deciphering the hidden meaning in his list of favorite M. Night Shyamalan movies? Or that he was using these random scraps of useless paper to prop his computer up in some weird way? Or for some other equally boring and mundane reason?

Also, I suppose the idea shouldn't be discounted that the man may have had a mental problem. I realize that the family disputes this but, as mentioned at the beginning of this list, you can never really know with people.

6. With all of the people in and around that building, how does no one hear or see anything?
The Belvedere Hotel at night

If Rivera jumped off from the building, his fall would have only taken a few seconds. And the sound of his landing would have been even briefer. This event supposedly took place in the middle of the night in a city where sudden loud noises aren't likely to be that unusual. Perhaps someone did hear a momentary bang and simply thought nothing of it? Personally, I live in a much smaller, quieter city than this one and even I don't usually think twice when I hear a quick bang occur somewhere outside. I may sometimes give a curious look out my window, but that's about it. Let alone does it ever occur to me to take a mental note of the event to remember later on and relate back to people days after the fact.

7. There's no way that Rivera could just casually walk into the Belvedere Hotel and head up to the top of the building without anyone noticing
Stairs inside of the Belvedere Hotel

Actually, if there was any question about this incident that would give me pause, it would be this one. Because I, too, from my outsiders perspective, don't understand how a non-resident/non-employ of this place could so easily get in and make his way up onto the roof.

Now, with that being said, I also don't know the layout of this building, how closely guarded it is, what doors were or weren't normally locked, and so on and so forth.

In the Unsolved Mysteries episode, Rivera's brother brings this topic up and states that he, himself, tried to enter this building unnoticed and get to the roof. He says he couldn't manage it. Although, my first thought was that they likely began guarding and blocking off areas better once they heard a man jumped off their building. So, of course his brother wouldn't have been able to pull it off.

One man said, while speaking about the difficulty of getting into the building, that you'd have "to go through back stairwells that lead up, that in some cases are locked or are not open to the public." 

In his attempt to persuade us of the unlikelihood of being able to do this, he inadvertently made it seem more likely, to me, when he add that bit about how "in some cases" the doors are locked or not open to the public. Does this mean that in some cases they aren't locked and are open to the public? Similarly, directly after this, the journalist also points out that the door to the roof is "usually" locked. Does that, as well, imply that it sometimes wasn't locked? Also, of course, if he jumped from the ledge, he wouldn't have needed to get to the roof at all.

8. The security camera footage at the Belvedere Hotel didn't show Rivera
The rooftop camera of the Belvedere Hotel

The detective on the case said that after the body was discovered he began checking the security cameras at the hotel to look for signs of Rivera, yet couldn't find footage of him anywhere. Along with that, the rooftop camera was apparently disconnected.

I'm not quite sure what's even being insinuated with this. I suppose that the murderer(s) had disconnected the cameras or recorded over the footage? Maybe. 

Although, it must be kept in mind that people mess up with and become forgetful or lazy with security cameras all the time. Especially if it's not something they find they require utilizing very often. Perhaps if we knew this was the only night, out of the entire year, that there was a problem with the cameras, then that would certainly be suspicious. But, for all we know, this was a regular occurrence. (You Epstein conspiracy theorists would do well in keeping this fact in mind, by the way.) 

Also, the series appeared to leave out (but which I found here) that employees of the hotel had apparently informed Rivera's brother, Angel, that they had set the cameras to automatically record over footage after so many days. Thus, by the time they found Rivera's body, a week later, it was simply too late to find anything from that period on the hard drive.

9. Rivera's alarm going off on the day before his disappearance and Rivera's odd behavior
Rey Rivera's security alarm

As far as the alarm going off at their house, the day before Rivera's disappearance, I really don't have much to say about that. I'm inclined to agree with the police that it was likely a wild animal of some sort. That sort of thing happens all the time, after all.

Rivera's wife says that Rivera appeared to be uncharacteristically frightened by this incident, as he ran outside with a bat. "That guy was never afraid of anything," she said. Which, unless he's from the planet Vulcan, I find difficult to believe. Fear is a natural human reaction and we're all susceptible to suffering from it. And, according to his wife, the alarm going off wasn't a usual occurrence. Thus, it would be understandable for him to be unusually startled.

10. Porter Stansberry, his company, gag orders, and conspiracy theories
Rey Rivera and Porter Stansberry

Directly before Rey Rivera went missing, he received a phone call. Claudia, a friend of Rivera's wife, overheard Rivera's side of the conversation. She said the call was brief and that it concluded with Rivera exclaiming, "Oh!" After this, he rushed out of his house and was never seen alive again. When police later traced the call, they found out that it came from Rey's job at Stansberry & Associates, where Rey did some writing and video editing for things like conferences and whatnot.

No one knows for sure who made the call. And once Rivera's body was discovered, the company put a gag order on all of its employees. So they weren't talking either. This is especially curious considering the fact that Porter Stansberry had been Rivera's friend since they were around 15-years-old. And the entire reason that Rivera moved to Baltimore in the first place was so that he could work for Stansberry at his company. Now Stansberry is lawyered up, not answering calls from detectives, and not talking to anyone.

Understandably, all of this has everyone assuming Porter Stansberry, his associates, or someone else involved with the company was in on killing Rivera. Why they'd pick this complex manner of murdering someone, however, I have no idea. Why not just shoot him and hide the body? Maybe drug him up and make it look like an overdose? How about pushing him off from your own building (where Rivera was parked) instead of dragging him to a property they don't own, where potential witnesses could be, that's flooded with cameras? Or did they know it was going to take a week to find the body (conveniently after the footage was recorded over)? Or maybe they did kill him elsewhere and managed to drag the body to the spot it was found later on (and then made a hole in the roof)?

Obviously, that's all completely absurd. I suppose, though, that it's possible that Rivera met someone at the hotel who ended up pushing him either out a window or off from the roof. But, again, we have no evidence to actually suggest this was the case. 

And if we're going to be tossing out random, unsubstantiated possibilities, perhaps Rivera simply got some bad news from the company, or perhaps even Stansberry, himself, and maybe drove up that way to confront them over it. Maybe things didn't go well or they wouldn't let him in. Maybe he lost his job and saw no future for himself. Maybe Stansberry and him were secret lovers and Stansberry called an end to it. Maybe he decided to try and do his best Philippe Petit impression on the ledge, then he sadly lost his footing. 

Again, there's a lot maybe's if we're going to go down that route. But it's best not to jump to wild conclusions unless we have a very good reason for doing so.

As for why the gag orders happened at Stansberry & Associates, who's to say, really. I'm just as curious as everyone else. Perhaps it was merely a precautionary action to try and avoid potential lawsuits (for instance, if they fired him and it resulted in him killing himself). I don't know. I'm not familiar with how that sort of stuff works. If you have any info on this, though, feel free to email me at TheGutterMonkey@yahoo.com and (if your information checks out) I'll update this page.

As it is though, for the time being, I see no reason to assume a murder conspiracy was at play.

And I'm extremely let down by the irresponsibly conspiracy-laden direction Netflix has chosen to take with its first episode of Unsolved Mysteries.

Hopefully, it gets better.