Unsolved Mysteries co-creator shares update on Rey Rivera case
Terry Dunn Meurer also offers insight into the cases of Patrice Endres and Alonzo Brooks.
Terry Dunn Meurer is excited that fans have been streaming the new Unsolved Mysteries on Netflix since its July 1 debut — not only because it could lead to another season, but because she hopes to bring closure to those dealing with an unsolved mystery. Meurer, who co-created the original series and the reboot, remains optimistic just a week after the show's premiere as tips relating to some of the 6 new cases have been pouring in.
Meanwhile, as authorities assess those tips, viewers have been rabidly sharing fan theories, reactions, and developments online, and Meurer discussed some of the more intriguing ones with EW.
For example, an internet sleuth on Reddit pointed out a possible connection between a note left behind by Rey Rivera, the reboot's first case presented, and his mysterious demise in 2006. The aspiring screenwriter was found dead in an empty room at the Belvedere Hotel in Baltimore, which he reached by falling in from the roof. Was it suicide? Could it have been foul play? He left a note behind, not of the suicide variety, that listed movies, books, music, and TV shows he enjoyed, as well as names of family and friends; it also referenced the Freemasons and filmmaker Stanley Kubrick.
The reddit sleuth noticed Rivera listed David Fincher's The Game in his final letter, a 1997 film about a man who gets caught up in an elaborate scheme in which a company makes him think he's lost everything. As a result of a series of unfortunate events, he jumps from the roof of a building through a glass ceiling, suggesting Rivera could've been acting out the events of the movie.
"I spoke to [his wife] Allison Rivera about that," Meurer tells EW exclusively. "She's spent a lot of time with that note, as did the FBI, just going through the note trying to figure out if there were any clues or anything else in there. She doesn't place any significance on the movie The Game. Rey liked a lot of different types of movies. He was just a guy who was interested in everything. If he had only ever left just that writing or if it was the only thing he had ever written randomly, then people would be a little bit more suspect. But this is what he did all the time. He kept so many journals full of random writing. Allison feels that she's been through all the journals just trying to find any clue that could help her figure out what happened to him, and she couldn't find any real or strong connections in The Game."
Another case that has captivated viewers is the death of Georgia hairstylist Patrice Endres, who disappeared from her salon in April 2004. Her remains were discovered almost two years later, with more questions than answers. In Unsolved Mysteries' second episode, "13 Minutes," Endres' husband, Rob Endres, is introduced, and he's a curious subject who speaks his mind. This has led to some viewers speculating on social media that Rob killed his wife, a theory shared by the victim's family. (He has denied such allegations.)
"Our goal is to present a balanced story, and I don't express opinions because I don't know," Meurer says. "We respect Rob and appreciate that he was willing to tell his story. We respect the fact that the police department did thoroughly investigate him and they couldn't find any connection to Patrice's abduction and murder. I don't like to speculate because we are here only to present the facts as we hear them."
Some viewers have also questioned whether the episode was edited and presented in such a way as to make Rob look guilty. Certainly, some of his behavior could be described as unusual: During his interview, he admits to having carried his wife's skull around for some time and cuddling with her ashes.
"Rob is a character since the moment we met him," Meurer says. "We first met him when we scouted this story. But there's also this side to him that's just a normal guy too. I know that he really loved Patrice. He's actually remarried now, to a lovely woman, which is one of the things we didn't talk about in the episode. We didn't include her in the episode because she wasn't around [during the time of the events] and didn't know Patrice."
She adds, "Regarding the editing, we have really long interviews with Rob and [Patrice's son] Pistol Black, and we had to make some choices. We tried to present the best pieces of the interviews to help tell the story. We also develop these people as characters, and Rob is a character. I do believe that Rob was authentic in his interview, and I believe he spoke his mind. I think his character is portrayed authentically."
A third case that has received renewed attention is the death of Alonzo Brooks, a Black man who disappeared in 2004 after a night out of dancing in rural Kansas. The FBI announced a $100,000 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person or persons responsible.
"Alonzo's story has been on our radar since 2017, before we even pitched Unsolved Mysteries to Netflix," Meurer says. "We had been tracking that story for a while. The people who reopened the investigation said they really started looking at it again a year ago, when we were filming the episode in Kansas. Seeing them offering that $100K reward was a very happy surprise to us. We had no idea they had reopened the investigation until a couple of weeks before the show premiered. I think the fact we were producing this episode shined a light on the case and helped them want to take a look at this case again. These are important cases, and we really hope that the exposure brings renewed interest and encourages viewers to come forward."