Murder suspects’ family member told detectives he saw St. Cloud mother’s motionless body

Nicholas Rivera’s interview doesn’t reveal cause of death

Nicolas Rivera, 28, speaking with Osceola County Sheriff's Office detectives in November 2019 regarding Nicole Montalvo's murder.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – The son and brother of two men suspected in the murder and dismemberment of a 33-year-old St. Cloud woman told detectives he saw the victim’s lifeless body in his parent’s garage the night she went missing, according to a video of the interview with Osceola County Sheriff’s Office detectives.

Nicole Montalvo was reported missing in late October 2019 after she missed picking her son up from school. She was last seen alive on Oct. 21 when she dropped her son off at the home where her estranged husband Christopher Otero-Rivera, 31, lived with his parents, deputies said.

About a week after her disappearance, Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson confirmed Montalvo’s dismembered remains were found on her in-law’s 5-acre property on Henry J Avenue near St. Cloud.

Otero-Rivera and his father, Angel Rivera, 63, were arrested in late October in connection with Montalvo’s murder but have not been charged with first-degree murder. State Attorney Aramis Ayala has accused the sheriff of rushing their arrests without proper evidence. The case is now being handled by neighboring State Attorney Brad King after Gov. Ron DeSantis intervened at the request of Attorney General Ashley Moody.

In the early days of the investigation, Nicholas Rivera, 28, the son of Angel Rivera, was arrested on unrelated charges in Georgia. At the time, the Osceola County Sheriff’s Office called him a person of interest in his sister-in-law’s death.

On Tuesday, a video of Nicholas Rivera’s interview with Osceola County detectives after his Nov. 4 arrest was released by the Ninth Judicial State Attorney’s Office. He is not charged in connection with her death.

In a nearly 50-minute recorded interview, there is no smoking gun or confession as to what happened to Montalvo the night of her disappearance. Instead, Nicholas Rivera doesn’t deny seeing his sister-in-law’s body on the floor of his parent’s garage as detectives describe the scene and guess that the murder weapon was “a knife."

In the video, detectives describe a scene in the Otero-Rivera garage, they said Nicholas Rivera told them about in another interview.

“You remember when you walked out in the garage and you saw Nicole, obviously she was unconscious, and you saw some blood?” a detective asks Nicholas Rivera.

Rivera nods his head, and says, “yes.”

Detectives revisit this moment in the garage several times during the interview.

“I’m still a little concerned about the whole garage moment .... where you kind of skipped and maybe omitted, you know what I’m talking about?” a detective asks.

“I didn’t see the initial incident,” Nicholas Rivera said of Montalvo’s body. “I saw her there.”

Nicholas Rivera said Montalvo was bleeding from her neck but he didn’t see any injuries. He became emotional during the interview as detectives asked how he could see her lifeless body at his parent’s home and “let her be like that.”

“So she was motionless, not even breathing. Dead. And nobody trying to save her?” a detective asked.

Osceola Sheriff awaiting governor's decision on Nicole Montalvo case

Detectives said Nicholas Rivera saw his father come in and out of the garage that night and described him leaving the home in Montalvo’s Honda.

Detectives then try to pinpoint the murder weapon.

“Alright, what was used to kill her?” the detective said.

“I believe it was a knife,” Rivera replies, unable to describe the color or the type of weapon he saw.

Later that night, detectives said Nicholas Rivera heard his father, Angel Rivera, around 2 or 3 a.m. rinsing off a pushcart near the home.

When detectives asked him about “the cutting,” the 28-year-old says he assumed “that’s what the cart was about. I didn’t know that was going on that the time.”

“What was used to cut her up with?” the detective asks.

“The item used? I don’t know. I didn’t see or I didn’t see I know my dad has power tools,” Nicolas Rivera replies, then proceeds to list off a few power tools.

The video recording is part of the slew of evidence released by the state attorney’s office in the past several weeks, including grisly crime scene photos and interviews with Montalvo’s estranged husband. That evidence also includes GPS data from Otero-Rivera’s ankle monitor that investigators say pinged him in the area where Montalvo’s remains were found.

Christopher Otero-Rivera speaking with his lawyer on Tuesday, Dec. 3, 2019 after a judge determined the state did not have enough evidence to continue holding him for his estranged wife's murder. Rivera remains in custody on probation violation charges. (WKMG 2019)

To date, none of the documents or evidence have indicated how Montalvo was killed or who killed her.

Angel Rivera and Nicholas Rivera both made statements in jailhouse phone calls and to detectives implicating Christopher Otero-Rivera.

According to court records, Otero-Rivera has a history of domestic violence-related charges involving his estranged wife dating back to 2016. Those records include a 2018 charge of kidnapping, battery and aggravated assault.

After Nicolas Rivera learned he was to be questioned by detectives about the case, he told detectives he sent angry text messages to his mother about his brother.

“I told her that she shouldn’t have let Chris back, that I know he was going to bring trouble,” he said.

During a jailhouse call between Angel Rivera and his wife’s sibling, previously released by the state attorney’s office, he said: “Chris is definitely going to be found guilty somehow."

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