Oakland, California, US – 63-year-old Dana Rivers is a nationally renowned transgender rights advocate who is charged with the gruesome murders of a female couple and their adopted son.
Born male and once known as David Warfield, the Navy veteran became famous in 1999 when he was fired from his teaching position at Center High of Antelope, California after writing a letter to colleagues informing them of his plan to undergo gender-affirming cosmetic surgery.
In his eight years of employment at the high school, he had been consistently rated by students as the best teacher they had ever had, and received an $80,000 grant and the school’s 1993 Stand and Deliver Award for most inspiring teacher when he developed a program for unmotivated students.
Mr Rivers sued the school board for the dismissal, and the two sides settled out of court for $150,000.
Rise to Fame & Take-down of Women’s Sex-Specific Spaces
Mr Rivers quickly catapulted to fame, taking the podium at the Millenium March to share his experiences and become one of the earliest proponents of transgender rights. He was tapped to run for the Democratic Party in 1999, but declined.
A heterosexual male, Mr Rivers used his star power to join a campaign of over 60 male transgender individuals and their allies who protested the Michigan Womyn’s Music Festival (MWMF) following the expulsion of eight male transgender individuals from festival grounds.
The MWMF was a 40-year-old annual feminist gathering. Transgender activists claim MWMF had a policy of permitting only women – “womyn born womyn” – on the land during the festival, though MWMF supporters have denied this.
“Half the women in there are butch, boy, or, or FTM [female-to-male transgender] identified,” one of the male transgender protesters complained.
At transgender activists’ urging, artists and organizations boycotted the festival. The MWMF shut down in 2015, presumably due to the heavy pressure.
A Family Slaughtered
Computer-prep teacher Patricia Wright, aged 56, and hair salon owner Charlotte Reed, aged 57, were a lesbian couple who married in 2015. They adopted 19-year-old Toto “Benny” Diambu from West Africa. He was a recent high school graduate who aspired to be a nurse.
According to Patricia Wright’s biological son, Khari Campbell-Wright, Mr Rivers was one of the couple’s acquaintances.
Shortly after midnight on November 11, 2016, law enforcement responded to reports of gunfire at the Oakland home Ms Reed and Ms Wright shared with their son. Arriving at the scene, they found the adopted teen outside, bleeding to death from a gunshot wound. His adoptive parents were dead inside the house, each of their bodies riddled with multiple knife and bullet wounds.
First responders who were attending to the dying teen heard a loud bang, and schoolteacher Mr Rivers emerged from the garage, covered in blood. The garage had deliberately been set on fire, police said. Police believe the fire was set in an attempt to cover up evidence of the murders.
According to police, their suspect tried to escape on Ms Reed’s motorcycle, but they captured him. During the arrest, police found ammunition and knives in Mr Rivers pockets, and Mr Rivers made “spontaneous” utterances about his “involvement in the murders,” police later reported.
End of the Line
Mr Rivers is charged with three counts of murder, arson of an inhabited structure and possession of metal knuckles. If convicted, he could face life in prison or the death penalty.
The couple is survived by three children.
“I just want to say, Ms Rivers, I don’t know why you would do this to a beautiful family,” said surviving son Khari Campbell-Wright.
Claudia Gonzalez, Diambu-Wright’s teacher, remembered of the teen, “His smile was so big. He smiled with his face.” Ms Gonzalez had words for the accused. “To actually hear that a former teacher did this to a young person,” she remarked in sad shock. “Your job, your passion, your life’s work is to protect young people and to support them on their journey. Not end their journey.”
— UPDATED 2:47 AM Saturday, July 20, 2019 Coordinated Universal Time (UTC): MWMF information modified. —
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Shock after beloved teacher and transgender activist, 61, is charged with stabbing and shooting to death lesbian couple and their teenage son before setting their home on fire
Relatives and friends of a distinguished California teacher and early advocate for LGBT rights are reeling from her arrest in connection to a grisly homicide that wiped out a family of three last week.
Oakland: Woman charged with killing Berkeley teacher, wife, son, then setting home ablaze
East Bay Times
OAKLAND — A San Jose woman on Tuesday made her first court appearance on special circumstance murder charges in the death of an Oakland couple and their son, a triple slaying that has the victims’ family members searching for answers.
She gained fame as an early transgender advocate. Now, she’s charged with triple homicide.
When California police received a call at 12:21 a.m. Nov. 11, reporting gunfire inside a home on Oakland’s Dunbar Drive, they confronted a gruesome scene.