Real Name: Reynaldo Rivera
Nicknames: No known nicknames
Location: Santa Fe, New Mexico
Date: August 7, 1982
Details: On the evening of August 7, 1982, a call was placed to the rectory of St. Francis Cathedral in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The caller claimed he was with his grandfather, who was about to die, and needed a priest to give him Extreme Unction. The first priest that answered was unable to do so, but told the caller to call about fifteen minutes later. Fifteen minutes later, the man called again and this time Father Reynaldo Rivera received the call. The caller wanted him to administer last rites for his dying grandfather at a rest stop near Waldo. Father Rivera agreed since the rest stop was twenty miles away, and reported the situation to the abbot. When Father Rivera did not return the next day, he was reported missing.
Hundreds of citizens from Santa Fe volunteered to search for Father Rivera. Sadly, three days later, his body was found three miles from the rest stop; he had been shot. As the town mourned his death, police began gathering evidence in the case. They theorized that the killers were waiting for him at the rest area, and that when he arrived he may was overpowered by two men, who held him at gunpoint, killed him in one location, and dropped his body off in a different location, where it would be found soon after. After the crime, the killers returned to the rest drop and removed Father Rivera's car. They later dropped his car off at a rest stop east of Grants, New Mexico. No physical evidence was found in the car.
Police had few leads and the case grew cold until on August 8, 1984, two years later, when Father John Kerrigan of the Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Ronan, Montana vanished. The next day, several bloody clothes were found along a highway near Flathead Lake. One week later, his car was found five miles away with blood throughout it. After his wallet was found with large sums of money inside, police ruled out robbery. They found several similarities between Father Kerrigan's disappearance and Father Rivera's murder. Both priests' cars were found with nearly all evidence wiped clean from them, coat hangers were believed to be used in both murders, and they both belonged to the Order of Franciscans. The sole differing factor in the murders is that Father Kerrigan had been briefly working at his monastery prior to his death, whereas Father Rivera had been with Saint Francis Cathedral for over fifteen years and had been a well-known priest in Santa Fe.
Suspects: In Santa Fe, the man who talked to Father Rivera identified himself as Michael Carmello. He was driving a blue pickup truck. The police have not found any suspects with this name. They also believe that at least two people were involved in the murder. The motive was not believed to be robbery, as only Father Rivera's last rites kit was taken.
Extra Notes: This case first on the November 23, 1988 episode.
Results: Unsolved. Police later found remains that were suspected of being Kerrigan's, but were later proven to be not. He remains missing and both cases remain a mystery. It is no longer believed that the cases are connected as Father Kerrigan was discovered to be on a list of priests allegedly involved in child molestation, although Kerrigan's guilt has not yet been confirmed. It is now believed that Kerrigan's murderer may have been a molestation victim or someone close to a victim, such as a blood relative. The motive for Father Rivera's murder has yet to be determined.
However, there has been some speculation that Father Rivera's murder may be connected to another Unsolved Mysteries case, an unidentified man called William L. Toomey who committed suicide in a Boise, Idaho church in 1982. Toomey has allegedly been connected to the murder of another priest, Father Patrick Ryan, although another man, James Ramos, was convicted in that case. However, police have failed to find convincing evidence that Toomey or Ramos participated in Father Rivera's murder.