‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Rey Rivera: Why the Helicopter Hole Theory Didn’t Work for Investigators

The Rey Rivera story on Unsolved Mysteries is one that audiences can’t stop discussing, and fortunately, it’s currently open as a homicide case. Until the cases are solved, Netflix fans will continue to try to crack them on their own. Viewers are intrigued, compassionate, and wired for puzzle-solving.

There are a few elements in the Rivera situation that invite inspection and deduction, and one of them is the hole in the roof.

It has many perplexed and the idea that Rivera was dropped from a helicopter is floating around. But there’s a reason those involved with the case discounted the notion.

'Unsolved Mysteries' Rey Rivera and family
‘Unsolved Mysteries’ Rey Rivera and family | Netflix

How Rey Rivera was found

When Rivera’s body was discovered eight days after he went missing, it was located in an unused conference space in the Belvedere Hotel. The space next to that room was actively occupied by the hotel’s catering service, Truffles.

What some may not know is the room where Rivera was found used to house the hotel’s swimming pool. It was converted into an office space in the early ‘90s and features two skylights in the roof. Somehow, he wound up precisely in the empty space — unseen and unheard — but what were the odds of that?

Three of Rivera’s work friends were searching for him in the parking deck next to the Belvedere. Looking out across the roofs, they spotted several things in the distance. They alerted police to the hole, the flip flops, and phone, but there was one other thing they saw.

According to writer Mikita Brottman, the men saw a chair hanging off the edge of the Belvedere.

Author Mikita Brottman saw the hole with her own eyes

Brottman spent 10 years researching the Rivera case and in 2018, published the book, An Unexplained Death: The True Story of a Body at the Belvedere.

Brottman, who was a resident of the Belvedere at the time of Rivera’s death, wrote that the hole in the roof was “bigger than a Frisbee, but smaller than a hula hoop.”

She also spoke with a forensic physicist with expertise in falls. Because of how Rivera landed, this physicist concluded he took a running jump from a lower height. Brottman raised the question of whether such a scenario could have been voluntary or forced. No one knows.

But Brottman explored the helicopter theory too. It’s been posited that perhaps he was dropped at night, but she challenged that idea by noting that it would have been hard to tell where the body would land.

Brottman also pointed out that Belvedere residents probably would’ve heard or seen a helicopter, regardless of whether an aircraft was cleared to fly that night.

Former detective Michael Baier challenged the helicopter angle

Netflix recently released unseen footage from its Unsolved Mysteries episodes, and there are several videos related to the Rivera case. In one, retired Baltimore detective Michael Baier commented on the helicopter speculation. 

He said, “My theory though with the helicopter is airspace issues, people hearing the helicopter — I mean you’re not gonna hover down in a helicopter that low. And if he would’ve been dropped at an altitude higher than the building, who knows where he would’ve went.”


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Baier also figured a criminal-minded person who wanted to get rid of a body would go the route of the harbor. He added that for those reasons, he dismissed the helicopter theory.