Woman Accused of Killing Husband with Hot Grease, Charges Dropped

By: Greg Gullberg Email
By: Greg Gullberg Email

Houston, TX - November 6, 2011

Just weeks after the 76-year-old south Georgia woman was arrested for killing her husband 4 decades ago in Houston, TX, the charges against Mary Rivera have been dropped.

A judge dismissed the charges Friday. Rivera's attorney says the murder charge was dropped because too much time had elapsed between when Rivera was indicted and when she was arrested.

Houston authorities arrested Rivera last month at her Lake Park home on charges she killed her husband in 1970 by dousing him with hot grease.

No word on when Rivera will return to Georgia.

Lake Park, GA -- October 21, 2011 --

The Lowndes County woman accused of killing her husband with hot grease 40 years ago, finally faced a judge for the crime this morning.

76 year old Mary Ann Rivera is accused of killing Cruz Rivera in Houston, Texas back in 1970.

She had been on the run and living in South Georgia since posting bond right after his death, but police caught up with Rivera last week in Lowndes County.

The frail elderly woman appeared before a Harris County, Texas judge this morning with her oxygen equipment connected to her.

We'll have that video and the outcome of today's first appearance tonight on Eyewitness News.

[Update] Lake Park, GA -- October 20, 2011 --

Mary Ann Rivera, is 76 years old and living on oxygen, but in 1970, police believe she killed her husband with hot grease.

One of her grandsons, who wishes to remain anonymous, says quote, "We understand what she did, and she told us her side of the story."

He continues to say quote, "We have no ill feelings toward her. No bitterness toward her. Whatever she did is done."

That relative says that Rivera never directly told him what happened that day 41 years ago.

But he's heard the story through other family members.

Rivera was arrested this week at her apartment in Lake Park, Georgia.

She was targeted by a special Cold Case team in Houston.
According to reports in Texas, she was first arrested shortly after the man's death and posted bond.

That's when she fled, only to be found over 40 years later. There is still no official word on a motive in the killing, and police say there had been no reported history of domestic violence with the couple.

Rivera's grandson says he just wants everyone to know how wonderful of a person she is, saying, "My grandmother was always there for me. She was always there for all of us."

Mary Ann Rivera is currently in Harris County jail in Houston.
She will see a judge for her arraignment early next week.


HOUSTON— October 20, 2011 - by Rucks Russell/KHOU 11 News

A 76-year-old woman, who is on oxygen, was arrested and taken to the Harris County Jail after spending more than four decades on the run.

Mary Ann Rivera is accused of killing her husband and fleeing from Harris County to avoid the consequences.

According to court documents, Rivera poured hot grease on her husband, Cruz Rivera, at their Moody Park home in November of 1970. After being arrested and posting a small bond, she fled with her children.

The Harris County District Attorney’s Cold Case Fugitive Apprehension Section combed through public data records and the Internet to track Rivera down.

Sheriff’s deputies arrested her this week in a small town in southern Georgia.

Authorities close to the investigation said there was no reported history of domestic violence in Rivera's home. A motive for the crime was never established.

The cold case section has about 600 unresolved cases.

The motive in this killing is still unclear, but WCTV received an email from Rivera's 20-year-old grandson, Matthew Rivera. In it he says, "My church is praying, my family is praying, and my friends are praying--we all want her home."

Mary Ann Rivera arrived at the Harris County Jail late last night. She is on oxygen and she is receiving some kind of medical care, but soon she will face a judge for a hearing four decades over due.

Stay tuned to WCTV for the latest on this developing story.


Lake City, GA -- October 19, 2011 --

A 76 year old Lowndes County woman is extradited back to Houston, Texas to face charges for her husband's murder.

She was arrested at her apartment in Lake Park, Ga. early Wednesday afternoon.

Rivera's close friend Lorraine Robertson is stunned.

"I don't believe Mary killed her husband. Mary's not like that," Robertson said.

Robertson was with Rivera when police arrested her early this afternoon.

"But I could feel Mary's whole body shaking and she just got in the car and we all said we loved her."

Houston Police say 76 year old Mary Ann Rivera murdered her husband Cruz Rivera in 1970.

The case is one of thousands that the Harris County Cold Case Squad in Houston is now actively pursuing.

They're investigating cases from the 70s and 80s when they didn't have the resources to keep track of suspects the way they do today.
Investigators say Rivera left the Houston area shortly after her husband's death and moved with her children to Georgia.

One neighbor, who didn't want to go on camera, says Mary Rivera told her that her husband abused her.

Robertson says they should just let her go.

"And I pray to God, that God intervenes and lets her come home."

Robertson says today the children are all grown up with families of their own just a few miles away in Statenville, Georgia.


Lowndes County, Georgia - October 19, 2011 -

The Lowndes County Sheriff’s Office was contacted by the Houston Police Department regarding a homicide being investigated by that agency. According to the Houston Police Department, they were seeking to locate Mary Ann Rivera in connection with a murder warrant issued in October 1970.

Through investigation it was confirmed that Mary Rivera was living in the Lake Park area and was in fact the same person being sought by the Houston Police Department. Mary Rivera was arrested on October 11 for the warrant in Texas and was housed at the Lowndes County Jail until her extradition back to Texas on October 19.

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  • by Angela Location: Tallahassee on Nov 8, 2011 at 04:15 AM
    Hmmm... So if I murder my ex-husband (because he was abusive and he's a jerk to the whole world anyway, believe me), then flit off to another state and behave as if nothing ever happened, lay low for a while, and be nice to little neighbor children who'll grow up with poor grammar and allergies to proper punctuation but defend me vociferously anyway, I should get off scot-free...? Sounds like too good an opportunity to miss. Sign me UP!
  • by anon Location: tally on Nov 7, 2011 at 08:07 PM
    Amazing! Strange how the feds arrest and convict civil rights murderers from the sixties, but in this case the judge says too much time has past. How about equal rights for women.
  • by Concerned in Tally Location: Tallahassee on Nov 7, 2011 at 12:01 PM
    While murder has no statute of limitations there is also needs to be consideration for the time period. Back then women were being charged and arrested for what should have been considered self defense just because it was their spouse. It could be that in addition to the time that had went by between when she was indited and when they attempted arresting her details into the circumstances that lead to the incident may have been the reason(s) why the charges were dropped.
    • reply
      by Robert on Nov 7, 2011 at 05:48 PM in reply to Concerned in Tally
      Oh so this was the case here? she was beat on right? Clearly we all know your gender.
  • by J-Mo Location: Tallahassee on Nov 7, 2011 at 11:47 AM
    Well that is the Dirty South for ya!
  • by Bobby on Nov 7, 2011 at 08:12 AM
    Women have been doing this forever by serving the grease on the dinner plate.
  • by darrel Location: lake park on Oct 26, 2011 at 03:19 PM
    i lived in close to her and she was always very nice to me and my wife they just need to let her go and live the rest of her life back here
  • by Steve Location: Not in Marietta on Oct 23, 2011 at 09:11 AM
    Just 'cause she's old doesn't mean she's not a hoodrat. She's a killer and should now be locked-up!
    • reply
      by wdyoung on Oct 23, 2011 at 04:08 PM in reply to Steve
      Just laughed out loud. Probably not funny, but I agree with what you said. Just your word..."hoodrat".
  • by Nunya Location: Kitchen on Oct 23, 2011 at 07:53 AM
    Madea says: Cook a big pot of grits, bring him into the kitchen, then toss the grits on him. Then after you toss them, swat him with a frying pan. You gotta get a good balanced weight, toss and swat, toss and swat. Venus and Serena, that's called grit ball.
    • reply
      by Concerned in Tally on Nov 7, 2011 at 12:02 PM in reply to Nunya
      LOL @ Nunya Madea also has a recipe for a sweet potato pie that's literally to die for.
  • by peggt bundy Location: leon on Oct 21, 2011 at 06:32 PM
    it's not that bad people. how many of us women hear in the south havent poured a pan of hot grease on our husbands because he was cying that he was hungry during an opra sho. so what if he worked all day.
  • by Cooks Location: Waffle house on Oct 21, 2011 at 01:59 PM
    Wow Shes old. i guess more of my paycheck will get cut to keep them old bones alive in prison.
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