Man Found with Wife’s Dismembered Body Convicted of Felonies
A man arrested at a Kansas storage unit with two of his children and his dismembered wife’s remains has been convicted of three felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child.
Jurors Thursday found 36-year-old Justin Rey guilty of the felonies, as well as misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and contributing to a child’s misconduct, prosecutor’s spokeswoman Kristi Bergeron said. Authorities say child porn — in Kansas, possessing such material constitutes sexual exploitation of a child — was found after Rey asked them to look at his phone for evidence he thought would help him at trial.
He hasn’t been charged in the death of his wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey, who died after giving birth in October 2017 in a bathtub at a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel room. Rey told law enforcement both that she killed herself and that she died of childbirth complications. The coroner who performed the autopsy couldn’t determine her cause of death.
Rey testified at trial, but his attorney only asked questions about the child pornography, which prevented prosecutors from questioning him about the children and what happened to his wife.
But in a series of phone interviews with The Associated Press, Rey said he didn’t call police because he didn’t want them to “steal more children.” He said he and his wife had six children together and that police had “stolen our children before.”
Investigators allege Rey took photographs with his wife’s body and his newborn and 2-year-old, then dismembered the body two days later in a hotel bathtub and put some of the remains in a large cooler. Police said that he flushed some parts that wouldn’t fit down the toilet. Surveillance video footage showed him pulling a red cooler with a black bag on top of it through the hotel, while pushing a stroller with a toddler walking beside him. Asked about her dismemberment, Rey told the AP, “What was I supposed to do? I wasn’t going to leave mama behind.”
He was arrested with the two children at a storage unit in nearby Lenexa, Kansas, where he said he was making preparations to take his wife’s remains to Arizona for a religious ceremony on a Native American reservation.
Rey also is charged with abandonment of a corpse in Missouri and with murder in the death of Sean Ty Ferel, a Palm Springs, California, man.
Investigators in California say Ferel disappeared after vacationing with Rey in 2016. Ferel’s body hasn’t been found, but his blood was detected in the trunk of his vehicle after Rey was involved in an accident with it months after Ferel disappeared. Rey told the AP that Ferel died of natural causes and that he burned him in Arizona in the same type of religious ceremony he planned for his wife.
Sentencing for Rey in the Kansas case is set for March 27. Bergen says the potential sentence won’t be known until the pre-sentence investigation is completed.