Rivers, reputed to be a member of the San Jose based Deviants Motorcycle Club, was charged with three counts of murder, arson and possession of brass knuckles, Tuesday
Could face life in prison without parole, or capital punishment for ‘special circumstance murders’
A distinguished California based early advocate for LGBT rights was arrested Tuesday in connection with a triple homicide that wiped out a family of three last week.
Sacramento journalism teacher Dana Rivers, 61, has been charged with three counts of murder, arson and possession of brass knuckles after police say she shot and stabbed to death a fellow teacher, her wife and the couple’s 19-year-old son before setting their Oakland home on fire, last week.
Born David Warfield, Rivers famously made headlines in 1999 because she was fired from a teaching job at a Sacramento high school after she told her boss she would be transitioning to a woman. The Navy veteran went ahead with her gender reassignment that same year, sued the school district and won.
Police responding to a call of hearing multiple gunshots and saw Diambu shot and bleeding, lying in the street. While helping Diambu, officers heard a loud banging coming from the garage, moments later, Rivers walked out of the home, police said.
She was covered in blood, so officers quickly detained her. As officers searched her, they found ammunition and knives in her pocket, Jimenez said.
As they detained Rivers, “she began to make spontaneous statements about her involvement in the murders,” Jimenez wrote.
Officers searching the home, found Wright and Reed dead inside. A fire was also burning in the garage. Rivers was taken into custody and booked at an Alameda County jail.
Records show Wright, a part-time teacher in Oakland, and Reed were married for more than a year, Diambu was Wright’s son.
Dana Rivers (pictured in mugshot), a 61-year-old teacher and transgender activist, has been charged with three counts of murder and arson
Police found Toto Diambu-Wright, 19 (right), bleeding from a stab wound outside his Oakland, California home. His parents (left and right) were found dead inside
Police investigating the triple homicide in Oakland that claimed the lives of Patricia Wright, 57, her wife Charlotte Reed, 56, and their 19-year-old son, Toto ‘Benny’ Diambu-Wright, on Thursday suggested that the motive behind the slaughter might have been a dispute over property, but they declined to elaborate.
Dressed in a red prison jumpsuit, Rivers briefly appeared in court Thursday but delayed entering a plea to the charges against her for three weeks.
Rivers has been jailed without bail since last Friday. Her next court appearance is scheduled for December 8.Those who know Dana Rivers were left scratching their heads upon learning of her arrest and the gruesome circumstances surrounding the killings.
‘This is utterly unfathomable. I am in utter shock,’ one unnamed relative said, Thursday. ‘This is a woman who has devoted her life to helping others. Nothing about this lines up.’
The family member who chose to remain anonymous said she last saw Rivers about a year ago, she seemed ‘happy and healthy.’
She had joined a women’s biker group in San Jose called the Deviants Motorcycle Club and reportedly told her relative she has found a community among other female riders.
Cops say Dana Rivers shot and stabbed and shot fellow teacher, Charlotte Reed (right), her wife Patricia Wright and the couple’s 19-year-old son, Toto Diambu-Wright, before setting their Oakland home on fire, last week.
Police responded to reports of gunfire after midnight on November 11 and found Diambu-Wright, who went by the name ‘Benny,’ bleeding from a stab wound, according to probable cause statements cited by NBC.
Benny’s mothers, who adopted him from West Africa, were found shot and stabbed inside their home. All three victims were pronounced dead at the scene.
Police heard a ‘loud bang’ from the garage and said Rivers emerged from the home on the 9400 block of Dunbar Drive covered in blood.
Rivers was about to ride off on Reed’s motorcycle, but was arrested and found with ammunition and knives in her pockets.
The 61-year-old also made ‘spontaneous statements about her involvement in the murders’ during her arrest, according to police.
Rivers, who was accused of setting the house on fire to destroy any evidence, has also been charged with arson and possession of brass knuckles.
If convicted, she could face life in prison without parole, or capital punishment, for the ‘special circumstance murders’ the East Bay Times reported.
Patricia Wright, (left) and her wife Charlotte Reed, (front seat), seen on their wedding day a year ago, had been shot and stabbed.
Rivers gained national attention when she had a sex-change operation to become a woman nearly 20 years ago.
David Warfield was a suburban Sacramento journalism teacher when he began hormone treatments and surgeries in 1999. When he told The school district about her plans, they placed her on administrative leave and eventually fired her. She sued and reached a settlement.
Diambu was an aspiring nurse who was attending college in Oakland and working at Walmart.
Reed was a veteran of the U.S. Air Force and owned a hair salon in San Jose. Her wife Wright, worked part-time at an elementary school in Oakland as a computer prep teacher, a school district spokesman said.
Wright, who was a semi-retired teacher at Esperanza Elementary School, had been married to Reed, a US Air Force veteran and businesswoman, for more than a year. They had a total of three children between them.
Wright’s other son Khari Campbell-Wright said Rivers was an acquaintance.
The married couple are pictured on Facebook riding a motorcycle after their wedding, and Rivers is said to have tried to escape the scene on Reed’s motorcycle.
But it remains unclear what Rivers’ connection was to the family, and Campbell-Wright suggested it was a random act of violence, telling the East Bay Times: ‘My mom had no part of it. My brother had no part of it. Wrong place, wrong time.’
More than 100 people gathered at the Berkeley High School Academy of Medicine and Public Service to hold a vigil for Benny, who graduated this past spring.