Prosecutors in Las Vegas are filing a murder charge against a 32-year-old Nellis Air Force Base technical sergeant who was arrested after he was found asleep and nearly unconscious in a home where investigators discovered the body of his wife beneath a blanket in the garage.
Rickey Lee Massey Jr. is accused of strangling Theresa Rivera, a 34-year-old mother of two, during a domestic argument in their kitchen late Jan. 16, and then taking what investigators feared was an overdose of medication or sleeping pills found nearby, according to a police report and a criminal complaint made public Wednesday.
Massey’s arraignment date had not been set, a court clerk said.
When base security officers contacted him Jan. 17, Massey blurted out that he and his wife of less than a year were getting a divorce, police said. He later told investigators that he had been drinking the night before, and he and Rivera had a physical fight.
He remembered Rivera yelling at him and said he grabbed her around the neck and waist before they both fell and Rivera hit her head on the floor. Massey told police Rivera kept trying to strike him, and he continued to squeeze her until she stopped moving.
Massey didn’t explain why he put his wife’s body behind a sectional couch in the garage instead of calling for an ambulance, police said. He said he knew Rivera was hurt because she was bleeding.
Rivera’s children from an earlier marriage, ages 13 and 10, were home during the fight. But police said they went to school Jan. 17 before base security officers found Rivera’s body.
Massey was treated at the Mike O’Callaghan Federal Hospital at Nellis and then taken to the Clark County jail in Las Vegas. He made a videoconference appearance Jan. 21 before North Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Natalie Tyrrell, who ordered him held without bail pending the filing of charges.
Massey was a decorated Air Force member who deployed four times during his 13-year career, said TSgt. Erin Worley, a Nellis base spokeswoman. He received two Air Force commendation medals and one achievement medal, and he had postings at bases in Germany, Korea, Guam, Turkey, South Carolina and Arizona before arriving at Nellis last April.
Massey served as an equipment-maintenance supervisor in the 57th Maintenance Squadron at Nellis.