Former teacher who sued over sex-change firing faces charges in Oakland triple homicide


A San Jose woman who once sued a school district for firing her after sex-reassignment surgery has been charged in the stabbing and shooting deaths of three people in Oakland, authorities said.

Dana Rivers, 61, a former Sacramento teacher, faces three counts of murder, one count of arson and one count of possessing metal knuckles, according to a criminal complaint filed in Alameda County Superior Court.

The complaint alleged that two victims, 57-year-old Patricia Wright and 56-year-old Charlotte Reed, were stabbed and shot. The third victim, 19-year-old Toto Diambu, was shot.


Rivers was arrested early Friday after officers found her covered in blood outside the home in the 9400 block of Dunbar Drive, according to Officer Hector Jimenez, who wrote a statement of facts filed with the complaint.

Someone called police at 12:21 a.m. after hearing multiple gunshots and saw Diambu lying in the street. He had been shot.

As the arriving officers tried to help Diambu, one of them heard a loud banging coming from the garage, Jimenez said.

Moments later, Rivers walked out of the home, he 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.

Then officers searched the home and 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.

Wright, a part-time teacher in Oakland, and Reed were married for more than a year, the San Jose Mercury News reported. Diambu was Wright’s son.

Investigators have not revealed a motive in the killings.

Rivers remained in custody Wednesday.

Rivers gained national attention after she was fired in 1999 for undergoing a sex-change operation and later sued. She appeared on “Today” and “Good Morning America” to talk about her transition and the dispute with Center Unified School District in Antelope.

Rivers, who grew up in San Francisco, did a stint in the Navy and served as a labor leader in Orange County for the American Federation of Teachers. She was elected twice to the Huntington Beach Union High School District board in the 1980s before moving to Northern California and becoming a teacher.

The legal battle began after she revealed she planned to become Dana Rivers. David Warfield had been a teacher at Center High School since 1990. He then became Rivers.

District officials told Rivers to avoid any discussion about her sex change with students. But Rivers opened up to a couple of students, who worked closely with her.

After four parents complained about Rivers’ conduct, the school board voted 3 to 2 to fire her despite a recommendation from district administrators that she be issued only a reprimand.

After months of legal wrangling, Rivers reached a settlement with the district and received $150,000 in exchange for her resignation.

At the time, Rivers said in a statement: “I did nothing to warrant the reactive stance taken against me.”

For breaking news in California, follow @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.