Please keep in mind that this blog often has comments and statements directly from the women on death row. Statements of grief, statements of innocence, statements of regret and sorrow. If bearing audience to these women's feelings, my opinions or those of commenters offends you please do not read on.
Transgender Woman Murders Two Gay Women & Their Child
A San Jose transgender woman is accused in the brutal killings of an Oakland woman and her wife and son after the trio were found in their home early Friday morning.
Dana Rivers, 61, who's in custody in Santa Rita Jail, has been charged with three counts of murder in the deaths of Patricia A. Wright, Charlotte Kuulei Reed, and Benny Wright.
People who knew Patricia Wright described her as peaceful and said they couldn't imagine why anyone would harm the family. Authorities haven't discussed a motive.
According to Oakland police, at 12:21 a.m. November 11, officers were dispatched to the 9400 block of Dunbar Drive to investigate reported gunshots. There, they found Benny Wright in front of a home. He appeared to have been stabbed.
Two women were inside the home with apparent gunshot and stab wounds. The fire department came and tried to render aid, but the victims died.
A probable cause document says, "As officers were [providing] aid to the victim, the officer heard a loud bang coming from the garage. Moments later [Rivers] walked out of the residence," and the officer saw that she was "covered in blood."
Officers detained Rivers, and when they searched her, they found "ammunition in her pocket along with knives," according to the document. She also "began to make spontaneous statements about her involvement in the murders."
Alameda County Sheriff's Department records indicate Rivers was arrested about nine minutes after police were dispatched to the home, which Rivers allegedly set fire to. She's being held without bail.
Police have declined to provide more information about what happened at the family's home. Along with the murder charges, Rivers also faces counts of arson of an inhabited structure and possession of metal knuckles, and special allegations including using a knife and a firearm, prosecutors said in a criminal complaint. The complaint lists Benny Wright's name as Toto M. Diabu.
Rivers was set to be arraigned Tuesday, November 15, but her case was continued to the next day in order to determine which attorney would represent her.
Rivers made headlines in the 1990s when she transitioned while working as a teacher at a Sacramento-area school.
Outside the courtroom Tuesday, Khari Campbell-Wright, Wright's surviving son, said he knew Rivers.
"I didn't know the confines of what was going," but "she was involved in a motorcycle gang," Campbell-Wright said.
"My mom had no part of it. My brother had no part of it," he said, adding that his family had been in the "wrong place at the wrong time."
Campbell-Wright stood with Richard Wright, Patricia Wright's brother, as he talked. Neither man would discuss the case further. People who knew Patricia Wright said Campbell-Wright has been away at college and wasn't living at the home on Dunbar.
Michael Campbell, Campbell-Wright's father, said he didn't know what had happened Friday morning.
Campbell said Wright was "very smart" and "quiet. She was a good mom."
He didn't want to talk about Reed.
"We were not friends," Campbell said. "I really don't want to go into why."
However, he said, "She loved Khari," and with her veteran's benefits, "she was responsible for him being able to go to school."
Campbell said that Benny Wright, who was Patricia Wright's adopted son, was originally from West Africa.
He was "real quiet," Campbell said. "He had been through a lot."
Wright had just graduated from high school and planned to become a nurse, Campbell said.
"He wanted to help people," he said.
Pamela Mack, 56, of Oakland, Patricia Wright's first wife, was also at the courthouse Tuesday. In a phone interview beforehand, she called her ex-wife "a quiet spirit" who was creative and enjoyed traveling.
"She was a beautiful woman with a beautiful spirit, and an amazing mom," Mack said. "She was just a really good person that didn't deserve anything like this to happen to her."
"It's hard to even think about, to wrap my mind around how someone could do something so vicious," Mack said.
The neighborhood where Wright and Reed lived appeared to be a quiet one. Several neighbors said they didn't know the family, who'd lived in the house for a few years, and they didn't know of any previous trouble at the house. A couple neighbors said there had been problems including burglaries and at least one car break-in in the area.
Sheets of plywood had been placed over the garage door at the house, but there were otherwise no signs of fire. A sign next to the front door said "Char's hair design and a place for change."
Michael Campbell said that in her hair business, Reed focused on LGBTs, especially transgender people.
A motorcycle was parked in a small shed next to the house.
Plans for a memorial weren't available as of Tuesday morning.