Originally created 10/14/00

Rivera charged in 3 deaths



The man charged with the rape and assault of a south Augusta woman has been charged in the deaths of three people in Richmond and Aiken counties.

Reinaldo J. Rivera, a Bridgestone/Firestone employee and father of two small children, now faces murder charges in the killings of Sgt. Marni Glista of Augusta, Tiffaney Wilson of North Augusta and an unidentified person, whose skeletal remains were found along Interstate 20 in Aiken County on Friday.

In all, Mr. Rivera faces charges of murder, rape, aggravated assault and aggravated sodomy in Richmond County and two counts of murder and two counts of criminal sexual conduct in Aiken County.

Late Friday, he was in police custody at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

In the hours since the 37-year-old suspect was found with his wrists slashed in a Clearwater motel room, investigators have placed him on Oak Ridge Drive on Labor Day, when Fort Gordon Army Sgt. Marni Glista, 21, was viciously assaulted and left to die.


"Based upon information gathered during the past 72 hours, combined with scientific evidence and all other evidence, an arrest warrant has now been issued against Rivera for the murder of Marni Glista," said Maj. Ken Autry, head of criminal investigations for Richmond County Sheriff's Department.

Maj. Autry was reading from a prepared statement when he made the announcement at a news conference Friday at the Augusta-Richmond County Law Enforcement Center. The news release indicated Georgia and South Carolina investigators are collaborating to solve "several recent homicides and sexual offenses."

Questions were referred to District Attorney Danny Craig, who added little to the contents of the release.

He said a composite sketch drawn with the help of Tuesday's victim, an 18-year-old woman who was raped and slashed, was used heavily in linking Mr. Rivera to the Glista killing. He said that Mr. Rivera lived in Columbia and in Fayetteville, N.C., before moving to his current address outside North Augusta and that he has a background in the military.

Citing concerns of "compromising the investigation," Mr. Craig would not elaborate on the scientific evidence, nor would he say whether the suspect would be linked to other deaths in South Carolina.

"The sheriff's department, and the district attorney's office, along with the Aiken County Sheriff's Department, and the solicitor general for Aiken County, realize the importance of giving information when we can, when it's appropriate," Mr. Craig said.

Authorities had been looking for Mr. Rivera since Tuesday, when the 18-year-old south Augusta woman was found stabbed in her home. She told investigators about how she met a Hispanic man driving a teal-green Honda and how he coaxed her into leading him from a Belvedere Huddle House to her Richmond Gardens home.

But it was Sgt. Glista's death that police would link first link to a common assailant. A Seattle native, she was discovered Sept. 5 after Army officers went to the house looking for her. She was unconscious and barely breathing and never awoke in the four days before she died at Medical College of Georgia Hospital.

The back door of her brick home reportedly had been forced open. Groceries from a nearby Food Lion were left in the back of her sport utility vehicle, some spoiled in the sticky heat.

Richmond County sheriff's investigators never disclosed specifics about her injuries.

Mrs. Wilson, 17, disappeared, along with her 2-month-old daughter Kaitlyn, on Dec. 4. Her car was found at the Winn-Dixie parking lot on U.S. Highway 25 in North Augusta. She was taking the baby there to have a Christmas photograph taken between 4 and 5:30 p.m. At about 6:20 p.m., a couple at the Georgia Welcome Center on Interstate 20 found Kaitlyn. Mrs. Wilson's body was found Dec. 28 in a densely wooded area in Graniteville.

A news release from the Aiken County Sheriff's Office on Friday night said its investigation had led them to the skeletal remains between mile markers 7 and 8 along the westbound side of Interstate 20.

Reach Johnny Edwards and Greg Rickabaugh at (706) 724-0851.