72ºF

Crime scene photos, evidence released in case of slain St. Cloud mother Nicole Montalvo

Cause of death remains unknown

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Hundreds of files detailing evidence in the case of slain St. Cloud mother Nicole Montalvo were released Wednesday, including crime scene photos showing the locations where her dismembered body was found.

Jail house phone calls, interviews with witnesses in the case and screenshots of text messages Montalvo sent before her death, which News 6 previously published, were all provided to the media.

[RELATED: Suspect in missing St. Cloud mom’s death incriminated son in jailhouse letter | Deputies ‘won’t leave any stone unturned’ in search for missing St. Cloud woman | Sheriff pushes for murder charges to be filed in Osceola mother’s death]

Although Montalvo’s estranged husband, Christopher Otero-Rivera, and his father, Angel Rivera, have been arrested in connection with the case, neither is facing murder charges.

It’s been months since Montalvo’s remains were found on a property owned by the Rivera family days after she was reported missing, but the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office has not yet said how she died and the files released Wednesday don’t provide clarity on the matter, either.

A day before the evidence cache was released, State Attorney Aramis Ayala sent a letter to the governor saying Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson jeopardized the investigation into the death of Montalvo and slandered her name to bolster his re-election campaign.

An expansive crime scene

After Montalvo was reported missing, deputies honed in on the Rivera’s property on Hixon Avenue in St. Cloud.

Records show that deputies took hundreds of photographs inside the home, in the garage, in a shed and across the 5-acre property.

Evidence markers were placed in several areas and a burn pit where bone fragments and body parts were found, among other things.

Guns, gardening tools, heavy machinery, bullets, baseball bats and kitchen knives were all photographed.

Authorities have not identified a murder weapon but the pictures show that evidence of blood was found in a garage and in a hallway.

According to records, Nicholas Rivera said he heard the family arguing with Montalvo and a few minutes later, he saw Montalvo lying motionless in the garage with blood coming from her neck.

Nicholas Rivera said his mother told him to leave but hours later, he saw Angel Rivera washing off an orange pushcart, which also tested positive for blood, according to the report.

Analysts noted in their report that they were able to compare Montalvo’s buccal swabs to the blood found on the garage floor to determine that it was not her blood or Otero-Rivera’s, but Angel Rivera could not be ruled out as a contributor.

Blood found on the laundry room floor is believed to be from four people, records show. In that case, Montalvo, Otero-Rivera and Angel Rivera could not be ruled out as contributors.

Deputies found a burn pit on the property and removed fabric, what appears to be a metal hoop, buttons and other items from it to be collected as evidence.

GPS animations

Deputies said in December 2019 that GPS data from Otero-Rivera’s ankle monitor pinged him in the area where Montalvo’s remains were found. On Wednesday, prosecutors released animations based on that evidence that show Otero-Rivera’s comings and goings.

An animation from Oct. 21, 2019 -- the last day Montalvo was seen alive -- shows Otero-Rivera was in the house, in the shed and by the pond, moving around the property for hours from about 11 a.m. until about 3 p.m., when he returned to the home.

He went back outside about 25 minutes later, returning to the same spots as before near the shed and the pond, before going back inside for a few moments an hour later.

At about 4:30 p.m., he again goes back to the garage area and starts alternating between there and the house for about another hour.

Deputies said they believe, based on cellphone records, that Montalvo never left the Rivera home after she dropped her son off that day.

Animations from the next few days show Otero-Rivera in the same areas on the property, even as early as 2 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2019.

Angel Rivera says his son is who detectives are ‘looking for’

Recorded interviews with Montalvo’s in-laws and her estranged husband were also released in the documents.

Wanda Rivera spoke with detectives two days after her daughter-in-law was reported missing. She requested her pastor be there for the interview. After detectives allow Wanda Rivera to talk to a pastor on the phone, she tells the pastor that her son Nicholas Rivera will need a lawyer and she thinks he will be arrested.

“Pastor I need you to call my sister because I think they are going to arrest Nicholas Rivera also. I don’t understand why," she said.

When Wanda Rivera hangs up, detectives tell her Nicholas Rivera has already been arrested on possession of child pornography charges.

Repeatedly, Wanda Rivera tells detectives that the “truth will come out.” She’s accused of lying during the investigation.

During a jailhouse call between Angel Rivera and his wife’s sister, Terry, he asks her, in Spanish, to help prepare the family financially if he remains in jail.

[RELATED: Court records show history of domestic abuse before St. Cloud woman’s slaying | Murder suspects’ family member calls Osceola mother’s death inhumane, barbaric]

“I prepare for things like this to happen so there’s money I put away,” Angel Rivera said.

In the call, Angel Rivera implicates his son multiple times saying “he is going to get sent up the river” for what Christopher Rivera-Otero did.

“Chris is definitely going to be found guilty somehow,” Angel Rivera said.

Rivera said authorities would arrest the whole family but “the person they’re looking for is Chris.”


About the Authors: