Estranged husband named person of interest in St. Cloud woman's disappearance

Possible human remains found in search for Nicole Montalvo, deputies say

The Osceola County Sheriff's Office says it's not known if the remains are that of a man or woman.

ST. CLOUD, Fla. – The estranged husband of a missing woman last seen in St. Cloud is now in custody on unrelated charges, according to the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

The arrest of Christopher Otera Rivera comes hours after possible human remains were found Friday during a search for the missing mother at a home near St. Cloud, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said.

It's not known, however, if the remains are those of Nicole Montalvo, the 33-year-old St. Cloud mother who was reported missing after failing to pick up her 8-year-old son from school earlier this week.

"We uncovered what looks like the possible remains of a human being," said Gibson, who added that it's not been determined if the body is that of a male or female.

Rivera was arrested on violation of probation charges, deputies said. His father was also arrested after deputies said they found something "suspicious." Deputies have named both men persons of interest in the case.

Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson said possible human remains were found during the search for a missing St. Cloud mother.

At sunrise, more than a dozen investigators with the Osceola County Sheriff's Office arrived at the Hixon Avenue home of Montalvo's estranged husband and his parents. 

Gibson said the discovery was made in the rear of the property. Detectives were focusing on an area behind a garage and near a tree line on the 5-acre property.

Investigators brought in generator-powered lights overnight Thursday to help in their search for Montalvo, who was last seen Monday afternoon when she dropped off her son at the home.

Deputies say a St. Cloud mother went missing under suspicious circumstances.

"This is totally unlike her," said Maj. Jacob Ruiz, of the Osceola County Sheriff's Office.

Ruiz said Montalvo's cellphone has been turned off and her car was found abandoned 8 miles away on Big Sky Boulevard.

"She disappeared out of the blue here on Monday night. (There's) no trace of any communication with anybody," Ruiz said. "She didn’t go to (Harmony School) the next day to pick up her son. That’s completely out of character for her."

Osceola sheriff's investigators Thursday took their mobile command center to the home and used lights to illuminate the rear of a detached shed, where deputies were seen earlier in the day with shovels.

Ruiz said deputies plan to search the entire property, which includes trailers, ponds and a large wooded area.

Montalvo's father, Ed Montalvo, posted a message Thursday night on Facebook, saying, "I would at this time like to thank everyone for their support and prayers. We still are of the mindset that she will be found safe. Again thank you!!"

No one has been named a suspect in the case.

Anyone with information about Montalvo is asked to contact the Osceola County Sheriff's Office at 407-348-1100.

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About the Author:

Erik Sandoval joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2013 and became an Investigator in 2020. During his time at News 6, Erik has covered several major stories, including the 2016 Presidential campaign. He was also one of the first reporters live on the air at the Pulse Nightclub shooting.