KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — A homeless man found sleeping in a Kansas storage unit with his children and his dismembered wife’s remains is now suspected of killing a California man who vanished last year.
Justin Tod Rey, 35, was charged Wednesday in the death of Sean Ty Ferel, a Palm Springs resident who disappeared after going on vacation with Rey in 2016. Ferel’s body hasn’t been found, but his blood was eventually detected in the trunk of his vehicle after Rey was involved in an accident with it three months later.
Rey is currently jailed on $1 million bond in Kansas’ Johnson County on child endangerment charges. He’s also charged with abandonment of corpse in Missouri, where his wife died at a hotel. Investigators allege Rey took photographs with his wife’s body and children, then dismembered the body two days later in a hotel bathtub.
A judge in California’s Riverside County also set Rey’s bail at $1 million. Palm Springs police issued a statement saying they and county prosecutors were working with Kansas authorities on possibly extraditing Rey to face charges in the California case.
Investigators said that after Ferel went on vacation in May 2016, his friends noticed changes in responses to texts and suspected the messages were coming from someone else. That August, Rey had an accident with Ferel’s vehicle in Los Angeles, but it wasn’t until months later that blood found in the trunk was determined to be Ferel’s.
Palm Springs police said Rey had Ferel’s cellphone, and that Ferel’s wallet, credit cards, letters, medication and other possessions were found in a storage unit Rey rented in Kingman, Arizona. Surveillance footage also showed Rey using Ferel’s credit card, including once while wearing a disguise that was found in the crashed vehicle, according to a statement from police.
Rey hasn’t been charged with killing his wife, Jessica Monteiro Rey. Missouri and Kansas court records don’t say how she died, and Rey provided conflicting information: He said his wife killed herself after giving birth on Oct. 20 at a hotel, but also said she died during childbirth, according to a probable cause statement.
Rey placed some of her body parts in a large cooler, used a stove to boil parts that wouldn’t fit in the cooler, and flushed some of the remains down a toilet at a hotel in a Kansas City police detective wrote in the probable cause statement.
Hotel management said Rey tried to disguise his voice as a woman’s when he called the front desk to check out on Oct. 23, the statement says. 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.
Police found the remains the next day inside a U-Haul Moving and Storage facility in nearby Lenexa, Kansas, after Rey slept there with the children.
When asked about his wife’s whereabouts, he responded that she had died several days earlier and was in the cooler and a tote, which he had been trying to remove from the storage unit, according to Kansas court records.
During a court appearance earlier this month, Rey was removed after a screaming rant against authorities. Courtney Henderson, his court-appointed attorney in the Kansas case, is seeking a mental exam.
Henderson wrote in a motion that he has a “good faith belief” that Rey is “unable to effectively assist in his defense due to a mental or physical condition.”