Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

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Normal Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:44 am

By JUAN A. LOZANO - Associated Press | AP – 4 hrs ago
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HOUSTON (AP) — Mary Ann Rivera raised her three children and worked as a waitress in a small Georgia town where longtime friends were stunned when they learned of her past: She was a Texas fugitive accused of killing her husband in 1970 by dousing him with a pot of hot grease.

Four decades after she slipped away from Texas authorities, Rivera was returned to Houston this week and will make her first court appearance Friday. The ailing 76-year-old is charged with murder by omission in the October 1970 death of her husband, Cruz Rivera.

"It was a shock to me when I heard about it," said Lorraine Robertson, who knew Rivera for more than 25 years and lived in the same Georgia apartment building. "I was like, that's not Mary. She wouldn't do nothing like that."

Court records allege that Rivera was accused of killing her husband by "throwing hot grease on him and by throwing other substances and liquids." The documents don't indicate a motive, and authorities said police were never called to the couple's Houston home on allegations of domestic violence.

One of her sons, Mark Rivera, declined comment when reached at his home in South Carolina. Court records do not list an attorney for his mother, whose health required that she be driven and not flown back to Houston. She is being held without bond.

Rivera had been a fugitive since she posted a $10,000 bond in 1970 following her indictment.

Authorities said she fled with her three children, including twin sons, and eventually made her way to Lake Park, Ga., a town near the Florida border.

An investigator with the Harris County District Attorney's Office in Texas worked on the cold case for several months, first tracking down Rivera's sons and eventually finding her Georgia address, said office spokeswoman Donna Hawkins.

Hawkins wouldn't comment on a possible motive for the alleged slaying.

Officials with Georgia's Lowndes County Sheriff's Office arrested Rivera after being contacted by Houston police.

Robertson said investigators first spoke to Rivera at her apartment about six weeks ago, asking her questions about who she was and her husband.

"They asked her how (her husband) treated her. She said they got along, raised their kids," Robertson said. Rivera had indicated that her husband had slapped her once but "that was it," Robertson said.
Investigators returned a month later and asked her similar questions. Robertson said Rivera had not previously talked about her husband and told investigators that she moved to Georgia after he died.
When investigators returned a third time, on Oct. 11, they arrested Rivera.

"Me and another neighbor walked her out. I could feel her whole body trembling," Robertson said. "We put her in the car. She cried. We all cried with her."

Robertson questioned why Rivera was being arrested after so many years and noted her frail health, including heart, back and breathing problems.

Hawkins, declining to address the health problems, said Rivera needs to face justice.

"The defendant was charged with committing a rather brutal murder of her husband. Although she was able to elude authorities for over 40 years, she ultimately must face judgment in a court of law for the murder of her husband," Hawkins said.

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:51 am

After 40 years, wife arrested in man's hot-grease death
Loose ends let suspect, who was found in Georgia, go free for decades
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By ZAIN SHAUK, HOUSTON CHRONICLE
Updated 09:41 p.m., Thursday, October 20, 2011

After her arrest, Mary Ann Rivera was driven back to Houston because the oxygen tank user is unable to fly. / HC

More than 40 years ago, an angry wife who allegedly killed her husband with a pot of hot grease was able to slip away from authorities.

The 76-year-old woman with an oxygen tank would go undetected for decades before being arrested last week in a small community in south Georgia, near Valdosta.

Mary Ann Rivera had been living with one of her children in Lake Park, five miles north of the Florida state line. She was wanted in connection with the 1970 slaying of Cruz Rivera, the oldest unsolved case of the 637 being revisited by the Harris County District Attorney's fugitive unit, investigator Chuck Lowery said.

Exactly how she was able to evade detection for 41 years came down to two major factors: A missing date of birth for Mary Ann Rivera, even though she was arrested in 1970 as a suspect in the death of Cruz Rivera, and a lack of resources to mount an intensive search for her in the years after she apparently bailed out of jail and disappeared, Lowery said.

After her arrest last week, she was driven back to Houston because her dependence on the oxygen tank made her unable to fly. She was booked into Harris County jail on Wednesday on murder charges. No bail had been set Thursday.

Lowery would not disclose details of the original incident that led to Cruz Rivera's death, but did say that his wife was angry with him on Oct. 14, 1970. She boiled a pot of grease, then threw it on him. Cruz Rivera died of his injuries three days later.

When Lowery began work on the case in 2009, he found little information about Mary Ann Rivera. Her date of birth, a key identifier in modern law enforcement databases, was missing. And files did not specify what happened after she was arrested as a suspect in Cruz Rivera's death, leaving Lowery to surmise that she bailed out and disappeared.

"Things were done a little bit different back then, I guess," Lowery said.

Lowery was able to determine the names and birth dates of the couple's children, then found an address for one of them in Georgia in late 2009.

After locating Mary Ann Rivera, he kept track of her while he worked to piece together evidence from the case, searching for witnesses and learning that many of them had died.

"It wasn't just locating her," Lowery said. "It was trying to make sure that it was still a case."

It was two years before he had enough for an arrest. He wouldn't comment on the evidence.

Meanwhile, authorities in Georgia had kept track of Mary Ann Rivera, and Lowery had asked them to contact her and question her about the case.

The arrest was one of two made in Georgia related to cold cases this month. On Wednesday, authorities in Gwinnett County, Ga., arrested Epifaneo Jaimes Arroyo, 55, suspected of beating and stabbing a man to death outside the La Chancla Club in north Houston on July 12, 1980. Lowery was the investigator on that case as well.

"We're starting to find them here and there now, so it's a sense of accomplishment," he said.

As for the Rivera case, Lowery said, "being the oldest, it was kind of unique, but they're all gratifying when I find them."

That isn't always easy, he said, noting that cases can go unsolved for years because of the sheer number of crimes committed.

With more than 10,000 outstanding felony arrest warrants out, and more than 30,000 arrest warrants overall, the detective said, it can be hard to stay focused on a case in which little progress has been made for years.

"It's just a numbers thing," Lowery said. And for Rivera, "I think that kind of combined to make it somewhat easy for her to remain under the radar."

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:57 am

Neighbors react to elderly woman's murder arrest

Posted: Oct 20, 2011 5:29 PM CDT
Updated: Oct 20, 2011 5:47 PM CDT
By Jade Bulecza - bio | email

Lake Park, GA -
Neighbors tell us they are shocked by the arrest of an elderly woman charged with killing her husband 41-years ago.

76-year old Mary Ann Rivera of Lowndes County is accused of pouring hot grease on her husband in Texas back in 1970.

He subsequently died from complications of those burns and his wife disappeared.

Turns out she's been living here in South Georgia for years.

She's headed back to Texas to face murder charges.

Neighbors say Mary Ann Rivera is a nice, sweet lady. When deputies arrived at her apartment last Tuesday to arrest her for the murder of her husband Cruz Rivera in 1970, they were in disbelief. Lorraine Robertson says Rivera called her and told her to come over.

"She said they're taking me to jail and I was just shocked," said Robertson. "She was nervous."

Robertson says she fastened Rivera's seatbelt.

"I helped her get her little shoes on and helped her get in the truck because she wasn't hardly able to walk," said John Lehman.

"She essentially greeted us at the door and told us she had been waiting on us for 40 years," said Lowndes County Lt. Stryde Jones.

"She's just a sweet innocent old lady she'd do anything for you and she cooked for us," said Lehman. "She's just a sort of like a mother to me."

Neighbors say they're worried about Rivera because she's elderly and has health issues and they're hoping that somehow she'll be able to go ahead and come on home and live out the rest of her days.

"I'm putting my faith in God because he can do anything and I know he will bring her home," said Robertson.

Investigators say she poured grease on her husband in 1970 in Texas and he later died. Since then they say she's been living in south Georgia. Her family lives close by.

Now her apartment is empty and neighbors say they're sad that she's gone.

Texas authorities picked up Rivera from the Lowndes County Jail.

We checked with the Harris County, Texas jail this afternoon and they told us Rivera has not been booked on murder charges there yet.

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must see video I cannot embed.
This is very very MOO. No woman would pour hot grease on her husband unless she is either completely insane or is being abused. There was not any help for abused women in the early 70's. Again, this is MOO.

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Normal Fugitive in husband's death appears in court

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Oct 21, 2011 7:01 pm

By JUAN A. LOZANO, Associated Press
Friday, October 21, 2011

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Mary Ann Rivera adjusts her chain as she sits in a Houston courtroom waiting to appear before a judge Friday, Oct. 21, 2011. Rivera, 76, is charged with murder by omission in the 1970 death of her husband. Rivera had been a fugitive since she posted a $10,000 bond in 1970 following her indictment. Court records allege that Rivera was accused of killing her husband by "throwing hot grease on him and by throwing other substances and liquids."

(10-21) 15:31 PDT HOUSTON (AP) --

An elderly woman with an oxygen tank next to her sat in a Texas courtroom Friday after her four-decade run as a fugitive accused of murdering her husband by dousing him with hot grease came to an end.

Mary Ann Rivera made her first court appearance since being returned to Houston this week from Georgia, where she had been living since fleeing a murder charge in the October 1970 death of her husband, Cruz Rivera.

The 76-year-old, wearing an orange prison uniform and breathing in oxygen from a plastic tube that snaked from her nose and around her ears to a green tank on wheels, sat in a jury box with several other prisoners while her case was reset to Nov. 15. She will remain jailed without bond.

Rivera's friends and neighbors have said her various health issues include heart, back and breathing problems. Her health required that she be driven and not flown back to Houston.

Prosecutor Tina Ansari said the age of the case and possible witness issues could present some obstacles as authorities proceed in bringing Rivera to trial.

"An old case is never an easy case," she said.

Jules Johnson, one of Rivera's two public defenders, said he is still reviewing her case.

"It's a 40-year-old case. We have to sift through it," he said. He declined to comment further.

One of Rivera's sons, Mark Rivera, declined to comment when reached on Friday at his home in South Carolina.

According to court records, Rivera was accused of killing her husband by "throwing hot grease on him and by throwing other substances and liquids."

Cruz Rivera died several days later from liver problems that had been caused by his serious burns, Ansari said. Ansari said Rivera threw the hot grease on her husband after getting angry with him at their home. Ansari declined to comment on what caused the fight.

Authorities have said that Rivera had previously made some claims of abuse but that law enforcement was never called to the couple's Houston home on allegations of domestic violence.

Lorraine Robertson, one of Rivera's friends in Georgia, said the woman had indicated that her husband had slapped her once but "that was it."

Authorities say that after Rivera was indicted in November 1970, she posted a $10,000 bond and fled Houston with her three children, including twin sons. She eventually made her way to Lake Park, Ga., near the Florida border.

Friends in Georgia said Rivera worked as a waitress, raised her children and never spoke about her husband or her life in Texas until she was questioned by investigators before her arrest.

Rivera continued living in her Lake Park apartment until an investigator with the Harris County District Attorney's Office in Houston worked on the cold case for a couple of years, first tracking down Rivera's sons and eventually finding her Georgia address.

Officials with Georgia's Lowndes County Sheriff's Office arrested Rivera on Oct. 11 after being contacted by Houston police.

Rivera's arrest was the second in less than a week in a cold case being investigated by the district attorney's office's fugitive apprehension section. On Thursday, the DA's office said a 55-year-old man was arrested, also in Georgia, for a 1980 slaying near a Houston night club.

"If you are a fugitive from Harris County, you might as well surrender now," said District Attorney Pat Lykos.

Since the unit was formed in 2009, more than 40 fugitives have been arrested and returned to Harris County.

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Oct 21, 2011 11:51 pm

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by raine1953 on Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:19 am

I sure hope TX knows what they're doing by bringing back this sick and elderly woman. If she was abused by her husband and/or if her kids were I sure hope there's someone to testify on that, otherwise she's probably sunk in TX. I'll reserve judgement until I read her story or her kids and I sure hope their story gets in the media.
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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Oct 22, 2011 3:02 am

I think it's pretty obvious she was abused. She took her kids and ran. I don't blame her. Poor thing! Yep, Harrison County in Houston is proud to have caught this poor woman. Makes me sad for her.

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by NiteSpinR on Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:05 pm

minor correction, Houston is Harris County.

I think LE should have just let her live out the rest of her life, she's obviously suffering with poor health. Now the taxpayers of Texas will be forced to take care of her. I bet the Judge finds a way to release her anyway.

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Sat Oct 22, 2011 6:17 pm


Mary Ann Rivera is 76 and was living in a small Georgia town, hooked up to an oxygen tank and pretty much keeping to herself.

Until cops showed up at her door this week to arrest her for killing her husband 41 years ago by pouring hot grease on him.

Rivera appeared in a Houston court today to face those charges. She had little to say; media reports from Georgia indicate she had told neighbors her husband Cruz had abused her.

She was arrested after the 1970 killing but made bail. She ran off with her children.
KTRK talked to the prosecutor in the case.

"Well, it's always good to get a case where someone had hurt someone in the past, or killed someone, or is responsible for a death, and to bring them to justice. So it's very good that we have her here today," said Asst. District Attorney Tina Ansari.

The arrest came about by the District Attorney's cold case office. Lately there have been a string of arrests for old murders as the cold case team uses ever-more sophisticated search technologies and tactics.

Prosecutors told KTRK "there are some complications because of the age of the [Rivera] case and potential challenges with witnesses," but a trial is still set, at least until a plea bargain is worked out.

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Wrapitup on Sun Oct 23, 2011 9:57 pm

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by HippyChick2 on Mon Oct 24, 2011 11:22 am

Please. It's so obvious this lady reacted out of rage when she did what she did- aka abused. Can a person be jailed for a reactionary-type murder when their oppressor has been beating, and scaring, them to death? Isn't that the normal human response- fight or flight? She chose to fight- and good for her- and then she chose to flee with her children. She probably knew after she bailed herself out that she was going to be going to jail, and she would lose her children- all because she was abused and chose to fight back.

It was a good old boy network back then, there was no "calling 911" or reporting being beaten up by your husband. NO help for women being abused in those days. Now-a-days it would be different, you would expect a trail of history in these days- domestic violence complaints, evidence she was beaten up all the time (witness statements they saw her w/ bruises, fractures, black eyes, etc.) and LE isn't the good old boy network it used to be- well, in most places that is. But 40+ years ago it was like the wild west if you were an abused women.

Shame on them for even extraditing her- she should have been allowed to live out her life in her little apartment. She's sick FGS, probably has emphysema or some other breathing disorder because she looks like she was a chain-smoker for years. JMO and MOO.
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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Guest on Mon Oct 24, 2011 2:20 pm

killing her husband 41 years ago by pouring hot grease on him.
faint
She does look to be in poor health. The tax payers may not have to pay to keep her locked up very long. Every story posted talks about no domestic abuse documented in their home. Did she actually boil the grease to just throw it on him or was she cooking and did that in self defense? I know that domestic abuse is not always reported and your right things were way different back then.
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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by HippyChick2 on Tue Oct 25, 2011 10:07 am

They aren't saying if she boiled the grease to throw on him or if he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time. Strange someone would think of hot grease as a murder weapon but back in those days, women were so oppressed maybe she had no other resources (gun, knife, whatever) She needed something that would immobilize him better than a knife. So hot grease is a pretty horrible way to die. But the poor woman probably felt trapped.
Theres evidence the neighbors she had at the time said that she had told them her husband abused her.
There was no domestic violence anything back then.
Back in the early 80's they were still locking your abuser up for the night then letting them go in the morning. A couple of those and getting the tar beaten out of you once he comes home after a night of lock up, you learn that calling 911 really doesn't help your situation after all. Women's Shelters were just coming into being where I lived. I knew nothing about them.
I really do feel sorry for this poor woman, she escaped for her life and the lives of her children, lived a decent life, and now in her remaining years/ months she is alone in jail. I think that's just a shame. JMO
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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by raine1953 on Tue Oct 25, 2011 12:25 pm

I'm wondering why one of her three kids hasn't spoken out in defense of their Mother. Perhaps we've got it wrong and it's not DV related????
Just sayin'....
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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Guest on Tue Oct 25, 2011 2:55 pm

All I know is this woman could not hurt a fly at this point in her life. I hope she is in the medical ward at Jail and not in the general population.
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Normal UPDATE: Charge dropped against Ga. woman, Mary Ann Rivera, in Texas death

Post by Wrapitup on Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:42 pm

Last Update: 8:18 pm

HOUSTON, Texas (AP) -- The murder charge against an ailing 76-year-old woman who spent more than four decades on the run after being accused of killing her husband by dousing him with hot grease was dismissed Friday.

Mary Ann Rivera, who needs an oxygen tank to help her breathe, was arrested Oct. 11 after a Texas investigator tracked her down in Lake Park, Ga. She was brought back to Houston to face the murder charge.

Prosecutors claim Rivera threw grease on her husband, Cruz Rivera, in October 1970 at their home in Houston. He died several days later from liver problems caused by his burns. Authorities say she fled with her three children, including twin sons, after being indicted in November 1970 and eventually made her way to Georgia.

Authorities say Rivera had made some claims of abuse but police were never called to the couple's home on allegations of domestic violence.

Jules Johnson, one of Rivera's public defenders, said District Judge Mary Lou Keel dismissed the charge because too much time had elapsed between Rivera's indictment and her arrest, making it difficult for her to put on a defense.

Johnson had filed a motion saying Rivera's Sixth Amendment right to a speedy trial had been violated in the case.

Rivera was not in the courtroom when the hearing was held because she was running low on oxygen in her tank. Johnson said he told Rivera about the ruling afterward.

"She was incredibly grateful and very tearful," Johnson said.

Prosecutors did not immediately return phone calls seeking comment.

Rivera, who has been held without bond since her arrest, could be released by Friday evening, said officials with the Harris County Sheriff's Office.

Johnson said Rivera moved to Georgia before she was indicted -- not after, as authorities have claimed -- and wasn't trying to hide from police.

"She did deny adamantly from the beginning being responsible for the death of her husband," he said.

Rivera's friends and neighbors in Georgia have said she suffers from various health issues include heart, back and breathing problems. Her health required that she be driven and not flown back to Houston.

Her friends said she worked as a waitress, raised her children and never spoke about her husband or her life in Texas until she was questioned by investigators before her arrest.

Johnson said Rivera plans to return to Georgia.

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by raine1953 on Fri Nov 04, 2011 10:56 pm

I hope her apartment is still waiting for her and that someone drives her back to GA.
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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by NiteSpinR on Sat Nov 05, 2011 12:08 am

Sat Oct 22, 2011 1:05 pm
NiteSpinR wrote:I bet the Judge finds a way to release her anyway.


Told ya so!

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Normal Re: Four-Decade Texas Fugitive, Mary Ann Rivera, charged in Husband's Death

Post by Slys Hunny on Sun Nov 13, 2011 8:08 pm


Charges dropped in hot grease murder case
A 76-year-old woman accused of murdering her husband in 1970 by pouring hot grease on him will not be prosecuted, a judge has ruled. The woman had been arrested in Georgia for the Houston murder. But the judge too much time had elapsed between the woman's indictment and arrest, the Houston Chronicle reports. The woman, Mary Ann Rivera, had been living under her own name when authorities found her.



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