OLATHE, Kan. (AP) — A man who was found at a Kansas storage unit with his dismembered wife’s remains and two of their children was sentenced Friday to nearly nine years in prison for charges not related to his wife’s death.
Justin Rey, 26, was sentenced on three felony counts of sexual exploitation of a child, as well as misdemeanor counts of child endangerment and contributing to a child’s misconduct. The exploitation charges do not involve Rey’s children and instead stem from photos of teenagers found on Rey’s phone after he asked law enforcement to look at it for evidence he thought would help him at trial.
Rey watched the hearing by video from a separate room after he interrupted so much that a judge ordered him removed. Rey will be required to register as a sex offender as part of his sentence.
His wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey, died after giving birth in October 2017 at a Kansas City, Missouri, hotel. Justin Rey 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 told authorities both that his wife killed herself and that she died of childbirth complications. The coroner who performed the autopsy could not determine her cause of death.
Rey testified at his trial, but his attorney asked questions only about the images found on his phone, 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. Surveillance video 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.”
In a letter to the AP dated June 23, Rey wrote, “My children had not been in any danger, I’m not a murderer, I never abandoned a corpse, never lived in a storage unit/facility, never looked up/screenshot child porn.” But he added: “I did dismember a dead corpse under religious views.”
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 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 ceremony he planned for his wife.