April 19, 2002 Police arrested a Fortuna man Friday and charged him with first-degree murder after investigators exhumed the body of his common-law wife from a shallow grave.
Raphael "Nolo" Rivera, a 36-year-old security guard, is being held without bail after his arrest Friday morning, according to police records.
He is accused of shooting 51-year-old Ianthe Thomas, a former newspaper columnist and author of several children's books, in the head and burying her in a grave at their residence at Estate Fortuna No. 77-24, police said.
Rivera gave detectives in the Major Crimes Unit a statement outlining his involvement in her death, and the body was exhumed early Friday, police spokeswoman Sgt. Annette Raimer said. The body was wrapped in sheets when investigators found it, she said.
Police officials speaking on Radio One's evening news told Sam Topp it was through reports from neighbors and other residents that police first began to investigate the crime.
Police records indicate the crime occurred Jan. 18 at Rivera's and Thomas' residence. Raimer noted that Thomas was reported missing that month.
Thomas, who also went by the name Ianthe Mac Thomas, was a popular op-ed columnist at the Daily News in the mid-1980s. Rivera has held various jobs on the island, among them at Dockside Bookshop.
Rivera is expected to be advised of his rights Monday in Territorial Court. At that time further details about the investigation and arrest should come to light.
Thomas' death is the seventh homicide on St. Thomas this year about one homicide every two weeks on the island — and the 11th territory-wide.