A man accused of posing for pictures with his dead wife's body, and then cutting and skinning the corpse while his children were allegedly present, claimed he committed such a heinous act to somehow save his kids.
Justin Rey, 36, said he wanted to keep his family together, and that's why he didn't call police after his wife died in a Kansas City hotel bathtub after giving birth. Instead, he posed his children for pictures with the body and allegedly spent eight hours hacking it into pieces so he could take it to Arizona, according to the Kansas City Star.
“It’s something I had to do,” Rey said Tuesday in Johnson County District Court, as quoted by the Star. “My family is very dear to me. It’s something I had to do to protect my family.”
Rey testified during his preliminary hearing, which is unusual considering the point of such a hearing is to figure out whether or not there's enough proof to bring the case to trial—a burden that typically lies with the prosecution.
Rey's charged with two counts of aggravated child endangerment and two counts of contributing to a child's misconduct, as well as with abandonment of a corpse.
At the end of the hearing, and following a not guilty plea, Judge Brenda Cameron ruled the case can proceed to trial.
The couple and their 2-year-old daughter originally checked into the hotel on Sept. 25, 2017, according to court documents. Jessica Monteiro Rey gave birth in the bathtub before she died, and Justin Rey allegedly dismembered the body with the children in the hotel room.
Justin Rey disguised his voice as a woman when they checked out on Oct. 23, 2017. He then travelled to Arizona, where he caught the attention of law enforcement after someone called and reported that he was living in a storage facility in nearby Lenexa, Kansas, with the girl and the baby.
Officers questioned him on Oct. 24, and asked where his wife was. He said she was in the cooler and tote he had with him. When they asked what happened to her, he gave conflicting statements. In one, he said she committed suicide after giving birth, in another, he just said she died.
His daughter looked very sick, police said, noting her thinning hair and an eye infection, according to the Associated Press.
The children were placed into protective custody and Justin Rey was placed under arrest.
His trial is scheduled for November 2, 2018.
[Photo: Johnson County Sheriff's Office]