OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Osceola County deputies said they still believe Nicole Montalvo’s estranged husband and father-in-law are responsible for her October death, but the state hasn’t filed formal murder charges yet.
Sheriff Russ Gibson said Thursday that the lack of formal murder charges is disappointing.
"I believe it's a strong case in and of itself," he said.
Deputies said Christopher Otero Rivera killed Montalvo, his estranged wife, in October, then buried her remains all over the family’s property near St Cloud. Investigators said witnesses watched as Otero Rivera and his father, Angel Rivera, used an excavator, rented by Angel Rivera, in the back of their yard.
Earlier this week, new charges were filed against Otero Rivera for failing to report a death. Prior to that, the only reason he remained in jail was because of a charge of probation violation, which authorities said he faced for contacting his estranged wife.
"I do have strong beliefs we have the right people in custody," Gibson said.
The sheriff suggested, at the minimum, the state attorney’s office should put the proposed murder charges before a grand jury.
“We’re waiting on that agency, whether to file formal charges. I can’t make them do that,” the sheriff said. “We’ll do everything we can in our power to get them what they’re asking for.”
On Tuesday, members of the state attorney’s office told a judge they’re still collecting evidence in these cases.
"We've outsourced a lot of the evidence to private laboratories that are approved by the state attorney's office and FDLE to get these results back quicker," Gibson said.
News 6 reached out to the state attorney’s office about a possible grand jury, as the sheriff suggests, and for a status update in the criminal proceedings.
A spokesperson for the state attorney’s office sent the following statement in response to News 6′s request for comment:
“The State Attorney’s Office is responsible for the prosecution of criminal matters and is consistently mindful of statutory deadlines triggered upon the arrest of a suspect. We will remain in communication with the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office as they continue to investigate the nature and circumstances of the death of Nicole Montalvo in a manner that supports an evidence-based prosecution.”
The spokesperson said the same statement was released in November when the case was first opened but remains true.