November 16, 2016
Noted transgender activist Dana Rivers was arraigned Tuesday on charges of committing a brutal triple homicide in Oakland, California in the early hours of Friday, November 11. The victims have been identified as lesbian couple Patricia Wright and Charlotte Reed and their son Toto “Benny” Diambu-Wright.
Rivers allegedly stabbed and then shot the victims in their home, which he then set ablaze in an attempt to destroy evidence. Rivers was apprehended while attempting to flee the scene of the crime on Reed’s motorcycle. He was covered in their blood.
Police state Rivers made statements confessing to the crime. He was arraigned without bail on charges of triple homicide, arson of an inhabited dwelling, and possession of metal knuckles. He faces life without possibility of parole, and potential death sentence.
Rivers’ motive is unknown. The Mercury News reports: “Authorities have not released a motive but have indicated it might have been a dispute over some property”, while Fox Channel KTVU News reported: “Sources said the case is an isolated incident involving a domestic dispute.”
Dana Rivers (formerly David Warfield) rose to national prominence in 1999 when he was removed from his tenured teaching position as an IT instructor at Center High School in Sacramento following allegations that he inappropriately over-shared personal information with students following his on-the-job gender transition.
Rivers was subsequently featured on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Good Morning America, among other national media. He planned on writing a book and selling a movie version of his life story. With the help of an ACLU attorney Rivers negotiated a $150,000 buy-out of his tenured position and resigned. He discussed his decision in an interview with GenderPAC here: http://www.qrd.org/qrd/trans/1999/interview.with.dana.rivers-12.07.99
“IYF: What are your chances of getting another
teaching job in the public school?
DR: Excellent. Not only am I an award-winning
teacher with years of experience, but California
is in the midst of a serious teacher shortage. To
be honest, I am not worried about getting another
job in a public high school.
IYF: What happens now? I know that you have some
speaking gigs. Do you see yourself continuing as
a gender activist?
DR: I have been thrust into this role and, to be
honest, I love it. It is part of who I am to be
up front, candid, and in the spotlight. I do not
believe that this means I am particularly vain or
ego-centric. Rather, I know I am capable of
speaking out, and it feels good to move the
mountain. As long as people want to hear me, I
am willing to spread the word.
My transition thus far has been easy (yes,
even though I lost my job) compared to my sisters
and brothers who have faced ridicule and physical
harm for their gender difference. I am humbled by
the effort and energy of GenderPAC and the other
organizations who are trying to make a difference.
IYF: You just addressed NGLTF’s ‘Creating Change’
in Oakland and traveled to Washington to meet with
Rep. Barney Frank, among others. Tell us about your
new-found high-profile status as an activist.
DR: It’s been fun, a bit overwhelming, and very
rewarding to have so much attention paid to my
situation. I have been interviewed by newspapers
and radio programs and magazines from as far away
as Germany. ABC News has followed my case closely,
and flew my daughter and me out to New York to be
on Good Morning America. I had to secure the help
of an agent to handle the flood of requests for my
time. A book and movie are being considered.
I actually had Diane Sawyer and a producer
from Oprah Winfrey on the phone at the same time
a few weeks ago. People magazine named me one of
the 25 most intriguing people of 1999, and Jane
magazine named me one of the Gutsiest Women of
the Year. It is amazing! I hope this exposure
gets our message into homes where normal people
can look at me, hear or read about me, and decide
for themselves if I would be a good teacher, or
neighbor, or spouse.”
Rivers was last seen in the media in a 2008 Bay City Reporter article featuring his work as a teacher in the Five Keys Charter School program in the San Francisco County Jail.
A vigil was held yesterday for Benny Diambu-Wright at Berkely High, where the nineteen-year-old graduated from high school last year before enrolling in nursing school. Over a hundred people burned candles and shared memories of the young man and his mothers. Patricia Wright, a special-ed teacher, had worked for the same district for a decade until her retirement last year.
At time of publication, GenderTrender is the only LGBT website to report.