Murdered Florida woman’s estranged husband, in-laws arrested in connection with brutal killing

The mother-in-law of a murdered Florida woman has been arrested and charged in connection with the brutal killing, authorities announced Friday — five days after the suspect’s son and husband were apprehended in the same case.

Osceola County Sheriff Russ Gibson told reporters that Wanda Nereida Rivera, 59, was booked Friday and is being held in lieu of $100,000 bond. She is accused of tampering with evidence related to the death of Nicole Montalvo and providing false or misleading statements to detectives during questioning over the past week.

Gibson described Rivera as “emotional,” following her arrest, adding that she is not co-operating with the investigation and has already consulted an attorney.

Wanda Nereida Rivera

Wanda Nereida Rivera
(Osceola County Police Department)

Montalvo’s estranged husband and the father of their son, Christopher Otero-Rivera, 31, and his father Angel Luis Rivera, 63 – the son and husband of Wanda Rivera respectively – were initially arrested last Friday on unrelated charges. After Montalvo’s death was confirmed on Sunday, the men were charged with premeditated murder and ordered held without bond at the Osceola County Jail.

The homicide investigation is ongoing, and Gibson said he expected more arrests in the coming days.

“We do know other people involved in this,” he stressed. “It’s going to lead to more arrests. This [murder] was definitely planned, and when it took effect, people were contacted or involved in whatever role [with regard to] the remains.”

“We will drain every pond, no matter how small a role someone played in this,” the sheriff added. “They will be brought to justice.”

Nicole Montalvo was confirmed to have been murdered on Sunday.

Nicole Montalvo was confirmed to have been murdered on Sunday.
(Osceola County Police Department)

The 33-year-old Montalvo, a smiling employee at Broadway Pizza Bar in Kissimmee, was reported missing Oct. 23. She had dropped off her and Otero-Rivera’s 8-year-old son Elijah at his father’s home in St. Cloud two days earlier, but did not return to collect him. Investigators discovered human remains at a property belonging to Montalvo’s in-laws on Oct. 25.; authorities confirmed the remains as Montalvo two days later.

Gibson said Montalvo’s body was in one of the worst conditions he has seen over 32 years as a homicide detective and sheriff, adding that the remains had been “disassembled.” The cause of death is still yet to be determined, though autopsy results are expected next week.

“I’m so angry what these people have done to this sweet woman, at a time in her life when she felt as though she had finally broken free and was so happy to have made her first month’s rent,” Gibson said. “Many times, victims of domestic violence don’t know how to break free, but she was out there on her own getting it done. Now she is dead.”

Christopher Otero-Rivera

Christopher Otero-Rivera
(Osceola Police Department)

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“When this autopsy is done, people are going to be horrified,” Gibson added.

But this was hardly the first allegedly savage encounter Montalvo had faced at the hands of Otero-Rivera, with whom she had filed for divorce. According to court filings, Montalvo sought the help of law enforcement on numerous occasions, and incidences of violence had escalated over several years.

She is said to have first filed for a restraining order in June 2016, alleging that Otero-Rivera had attacked their son, who was 5 years old at the time.

Angel Luis Rivera

Angel Luis Rivera
(Osceola County Police Department)

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Photos of Montalvo sporting bruises and a neck brace were included in court petitions, according to the Orlando Sentinel. The paper also reported that Montalvo had indicated in filings that Otero-Rivera had previously been involuntarily hospitalized under the state’s Baker’s Act, which allows a 72-hour hold for those believed to be a danger to themselves or others.

Yet the worst alleged incident came in October 2018. Montalvo told law enforcement that Otero-Rivera texted her that his truck had broken down and that he needed a ride. However, he then led her to a barren area where another car, driven by a woman identified as Toni Rocker, pulled up.

Montalvo was subsequently dragged from her vehicle and thrown to the ground. After her husband purportedly stuffed a cloth in her mouth and attempted to break her neck, Rocker allegedly held a knife to Montalvo’s throat and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about the attack.

The pair were arrested.

Sheriff Russ Gibson told Fox News this is the most horrific murder case he has dealt with in his 32-year-long career in law enforcement.

Sheriff Russ Gibson told Fox News this is the most horrific murder case he has dealt with in his 32-year-long career in law enforcement.
(Osceola County Police Department)

Rocker, 31, was acquitted in April of charges of kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. According to Gibson, Rocker is not a suspect in Montalvo’s murder and has cooperated with investigators.

Otero-Rivera pleaded no contest to hindering a witness’s ability to communicate with law enforcement, unlawful possession of a credit or debit card, and battery. The more serious charges of kidnapping, robbery, and aggravated assault were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

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After serving just eight months behind bars, Otero-Rivera was released on two years of probation – which included wearing an ankle bracelet for monitoring. He was barred from communicating with Montalvo except via parenting cellphone application but has since been charged with violating the no-contact order after admitting to calling her. Angel Luis Rivera, a convicted felon, was initially apprehended Friday on charges of unlawful weapons and ammunition possession.

“This is a person who already tried to snap Nicole’s neck, and he took this plea deal,” Gibson lamented. “Domestic violence should not be a misdemeanor; [it] should be a felony. If weapons are used, they can be enhanced to a felony. But anything domestic violence-related should be moved to a felony.”

Nicole Montalvo and her eight-year-old son, Elijah.

Nicole Montalvo and her eight-year-old son, Elijah.
(Osceola County Police Department)

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Gibson and several members of law enforcement joined Montalvo’s family and dozens of mourners Monday at St. Cloud’s Lakefront Park for a candlelight vigil, both to remember Nicole Montalvo’s life and to illuminate the dark plight victims of domestic violence walk through day after day.

A second vigil is expected to take place Saturday at Montalvo’s former workplace, Broadway Pizza, for family and co-workers.

“We need our prosecutors to take this case seriously,” Gibson told Fox News. “We will be a voice for the voiceless. We will have justice for Nicole.”

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