In-laws disposed of missing St. Cloud mother’s car after her death, deputies say

Victim’s in-laws, estranged husband facing charges

Recently released evidence shows deputies believe a missing St. Cloud mother’s in-laws worked together to abandon her car after her death.

OSCEOLA COUNTY, Fla. – Recently released evidence shows deputies believe a missing St. Cloud mother’s in-laws worked together to abandon her car after her death.

The documents include surveillance images that show the murder suspect’s truck heading toward and later leaving the area where the victim’s car was left.

The Osceola County Sheriff’s Office investigative report was released Friday by the State Attorney’s Office, the day after Nicole Montalvo’s mother-in-law, Wanda Rivera, was arrested on charges of accessory after the fact to murder and tampering with physical evidence in connection with Montalvo’s death. She has since bonded out of the Osceola County Jail.

Her husband, Angel Rivera, and her son, Christopher Otero-Rivera, remain behind bars on murder and other related charges.

Deputies said Montalvo’s body was found dismembered on property belonging to the Rivera days after she was reported missing when she failed to pick her son up from school.

Angel Rivera's truck is seen heading near the area where Nicole Montalvo's car was found abandoned, deputies say. (Osceola County Sheriff's Office)

Her 1999 Honda Accord was found abandoned on Oct. 24 on Big Sky Boulevard, about 8 miles from the Rivera home, where she was last seen alive.

The new report released in connection with Wanda Rivera’s arrest details how deputies canvassed along the route between the Rivera property and the location where Montalvo’s car was found and located surveillance footage showing Angel Rivera’s 1992 Chevrolet truck being driven along that path.

Montalvo’s vehicle could only be seen in footage from 4:20 p.m. on Oct. 21 that showed her Honda heading toward the Rivera property on Hixon Avenue. She was reported missing around 5 p.m. that same day and deputies have said they believe based on cellphone records that Montalvo never left the Rivera property after she dropped her son off there.

The photos do not provide a clear enough image to determine who was behind the wheel of either vehicle.

Deputies say Nicole Montalvo's car was seen heading toward the Rivera residence shortly before she went missing. (Osceola County Sheriff's Office)

About two hours after Montalvo’s car was seen driving toward her estranged husband’s home, Angel Rivera’s truck was spotted at about 6:35 p.m. driving along a path that leads to Big Sky Boulevard, records show.

Then, about 22 minutes later, the Chevrolet heads back toward the Hixon Avenue home, according to the report.

Deputies wrote that they believe the person driving Angel Rivera’s truck took main roads to get to Big Sky Boulevard while whomever drove Montalvo’s car there used side streets since the two vehicles were never spotted together.

Records from the Sheriff’s Office don’t detail who they believe drove the vehicles but they do note that it couldn’t have been Otero-Rivera because he was wearing a GPS ankle monitor and it couldn’t have been the couple’s other son because he was at work.

“We know it takes more than one person to drop off a car and have a ride back to the home,” deputies wrote.

During the time that Montalvo’s car was being abandoned, neither Angel Rivera’s or Wanda Rivera’s phones left their property and according to the report, authorities believe that’s because Angel Rivera understood how cellphone tracking works.

Records show Angel Rivera attended the trial for a woman accused of helping Otero-Rivera kidnap and assault Montalvo in October 2018 and during those court proceedings, he took extensive notes about cellphone tracking.

“Based upon Angel’s notes, he learned how cellphone records and mapping are used in a criminal investigation. I believe Angel used this learned information during the murder of Nicole Montalvo. This would explain why Angel and Wanda’s phones stay on the property and do not travel with them while they dispose of Nicole’s car 8.4 miles away from their home,” the report read.

Information provided by the Sheriff’s Office doesn’t indicate who was believed to be driving each vehicle.

Records released earlier this year show Angel Rivera was at a hospital on Oct. 29 and as forensic technicians were collecting DNA evidence from him, he said, "My prints will be in the car.”

Authorities have not released Montalvo’s cause of death although records show her remains were found across the Rivera’s 5-acre property.

Text messages sent by Montalvo show that she and the Rivera family were in a fight about custody over her and Otero-Rivera’s son and even the boy warned her, "mommy stay away from daddy.”