Connect with us

Local

Gay murder victim knew juvenile arrested in his slaying

Published

on

A 17-year-old D.C. male charged with the Jan. 10 shooting death of gay Maryland resident Gordon Rivers told police he knew the man and invited him to the location where Rivers was shot during an alleged botched robbery, according to a police affidavit.

William X. Wren was ordered held without bond during a Jan. 29 arraignment in D.C. Superior Court on charges of first- and second-degree murder and assault with intent to kill while armed, all in connection with River’s death.

Rivers, 47, a resident of Brandywine, Md., was found laying in the street suffering multiple gunshot wounds in front of 2641 Naylor Road, S.E., at about 5:30 p.m. on Jan. 10 by an off-duty police officer, says the affidavit.

It says police arrested Wren after he voluntarily appeared at the police homicide squad office for an interview Jan. 28. It says Wren told detectives he knew Rivers and contacted him by phone to invite him for a visit near where Wren lived in Southeast D.C.

According to the affidavit, Wren allegedly shot Rivers inside Rivers’ car during a robbery shortly after Rivers drove to the area in his black Cadillac on Jan. 10.

The U.S. Attorney’s office charged Wren as an adult, resulting in the release of the three-page arrest affidavit that details the case against him. But the affidavit does not disclose whether Rivers’ sexual orientation was a factor in his murder or the nature of his relationship with Wren.

Benjamin Friedman, a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney’s office, said the investigation into the murder is continuing and neither his office nor the police could provide additional details, such as how Rivers and Wren met each other.

People who knew Rivers told DC Agenda he was a regular customer of the D.C. gay bar Bachelor’s Mill, located near the Washington Navy Yard, which is about five miles from the area where he was killed.

One Bachelor’s Mill customer who knew Rivers said Rivers never mentioned having any ties to the Naylor Road, S.E., neighborhood where he was shot. However, the customer noted that the Naylor Road area is along the route Rivers would take to drive from his home in Brandywine to Bachelor’s Mill.

A law enforcement source said an area near where Rivers was shot has been known as a clandestine cruising spot for men seeking other men for sex.

The affidavit says the off-duty officer heard gunshots and observed “muzzle flash” from within a black Cadillac parked on the 2600 block of Naylor Road. It says the officer saw a youth, later identified as Wren, leave the car via the front passenger door while carrying a handgun. The youth then fled the scene.

“The officer observed a male subject, who was later identified as 47-year-old Gordon Rivers, exit the driver’s side door and walk to the rear of the vehicle where he collapsed,” says the affidavit.

Police said Rivers was taken by ambulance to Washington Hospital Center, where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

According to the affidavit, Wren voluntarily appeared at the police homicide office Jan. 28 and agreed to be interviewed about the case.

It says his appearance followed an earlier interview by homicide detectives of a witness who told detectives he knew Wren. The witness told detectives he overheard Wren and another man, whom police identify only as an “accomplice,” talk about robbing someone, says the affidavit.

It says the witness told police he saw the accomplice hand Wren a pistol moments before Wren entered Rivers’ car. According to the affidavit, the witness said he heard the sound of multiple gunshots coming from inside the car a short time later. It says the witness then saw Wren exit Rivers’ Cadillac and flee the scene.

The affidavit says that in the days following the murder, the witness reported hearing Wren say he shot Rivers “during the botched robbery attempt.”

The affidavit says Wren told detectives during his Jan. 28 police interview that he lives with the mother of his children on the 2400 block of S St., S.E., which is close to where he arranged to meet Rivers on the day of the shooting. He arranged to meet Rivers “for the purpose of robbing him of money and marijuana,” the affidavit says he told the detectives.

It says Wren told detectives he entered Rivers’ car unarmed with the intent that his accomplice would enter the car a short time later with a gun, and the two would carry out the robbery. But according to Wren, Rivers pulled out his own gun when Wren told him “not to move,” and the two men got into a struggle over the gun.

“William Wren said that he took the decedent’s gun,” says the affidavit. “Then, he and the decedent fought over the gun. During the struggle, the gun went off and the decedent was shot multiple times. William Wren said that he exited the vehicle while still in possession of the decedent’s gun and fled on foot.”

During the arraignment, defense attorney Ronald Horton challenged the credibility of the witness who told police Wren was in possession of a gun as he entered Rivers’ car. Horton asked Judge-Magistrate Karen Howze to approve a motion to dismiss the case due to lack of sufficient evidence.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Sean Tonolli, the prosecutor in the case, disputed Horton’s assessment. He said the evidence was strong and overwhelming and the witness was reliable — and that Wren’s claim that the gun belonged to Rivers lacked credibility.

Howze denied the defense motion, saying she found “substantial probability that Mr. Wren did commit this offense.” She denied a second motion by Horton that Wren be released into the custody of his mother, ordering that Wren be held without bond.

She set a preliminary hearing for Feb. 10, where Judge Herbert Dixon would take over the case and determine whether Wren was eligible for release while awaiting trial.

“The motive sounds like robbery, and it’s unclear if the victim was killed because he was gay,” said Dale Edwin Sanders, a gay attorney who practices criminal law in D.C.

“One unanswered question is whether the police found any pot in the car or in the possession of the victim,” Sanders said. “If there was no pot, the police would have to look closer at a possible gay angle. What brought them together in the car at that time?”

Advertisement
FUND LGBTQ JOURNALISM
SIGN UP FOR E-BLAST

Virginia

Youngkin vetoes bill that would have expanded Va. bullying definition

Bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole introduced House Bill 536

Published

on

Republican Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin speaks at a CNN Town Hall on March 9, 2023. (Screen capture via CNN)

Virginia Gov. Glenn Youngkin on Friday vetoed a bill that would have added sexual orientation, gender identity and expression to the state’s definition of bullying.

Lawmakers earlier this year approved House Bill 536, which bisexual state Del. Joshua Cole (D-Fredericksburg) introduced. 

“While I agree with the general purpose of the legislation, regrettably, the General Assembly did not approve my amendments,” said Youngkin in a statement. “Those recommendations would have expanded the definition of bullying to encompass all possible motives.”

“School administrators must work to prevent bullying and support our students’ mental health through a healthy learning environment, but the narrow definition provided in the legislation could be interpreted to exclude groups not included in the Virginia Human Rights Act, such as bullying victims raised with traditional values or those who are in foster care,” added the Republican.

Continue Reading

Rehoboth Beach

Selling Rehoboth: Lee Ann Wilkinson wins prestigious real estate award

Longtime agent on beach prices, her LGBTQ allyship, and more

Published

on

Lee Ann Wilkinson doesn’t see real estate prices coming down anytime soon at the beach. (Blade file photo by Daniel Truitt)

Longtime Delaware real estate leader Lee Ann Wilkinson of Berkshire Hathaway recently celebrated a major industry award after being named No. 1 in total sales volume for the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Network. Wilkinson, a Blade contributor, centers much of her work in the coastal communities of Lewes and Rehoboth Beach. We caught up with her to discuss her long career in real estate, her LGBTQ allyship, and more.

Washington Blade: I learned your parents were in real estate, and you began working with them early on in your career. Did you initially intend to follow in their footsteps? 

Lee Ann Wilkinson: Not really. I majored in art. When I got out of college I couldn’t really find a job. So, my parents said, “You need to come work for us.”

Blade: I understand that as an art history major turned writer. Speaking of that: I know you have written some pieces for the Blade, about real estate trends, and the like. How do you pick your topics for these articles? 

Wilkinson:  People always want to know about real estate. Whether buying a first home, second home, a home to invest or retire in. It amazes even me how much interest there is. And it’s not just people looking to buy a $7 million home on beachfront property. It’s people looking to get something in budget for their family.

Blade: I know you have a lot of work in Rehoboth, the Delaware Valley’s historically gay beachside community. Was there ever a time you were NOT selling property to – I guess it was fair to say 40 years ago – mostly gay men? 

Wilkinson: Ha, I grew up coming down for the summer until my family moved here full-time from Norristown, outside of Philly. We had businesses and family in Rehoboth. I think Rehoboth has always been gay-friendly. We never thought about it. My grandfather had a house in Rehoboth before I was born. The gay population was always welcome.

Blade: Do you have a connection to the LGBTQ community beyond real estate? 

Wilkinson: Absolutely. One of my closest friends is a guy I went to college with at the University of Delaware, Joey. You know, Joey was maybe my first gay friend. In fact, we all went to the Easter Sunrise Service on the beach in Rehoboth. We have gay family members, so I have never thought that much about it being anything different.

Blade: I know you recently won a prestigious award with Berkshire Hathaway and were surprised to come in first place. Why?

Wilkinson: For the past 20 years or so we have been in the top 10. We started doing these national things with Berkshire Hathaway. To get in the top 10 was amazing to me especially going up against states like Florida, New Jersey, not to mention San Francisco or Bay Area agents. I just never thought we’d get to the number one spot. My only issue is — where to go now?

Blade: Where do you make your primary residence? Is that Lewes? Do you see the president on occasion? 

Wilkinson: I haven’t seen him at the beach. But he’s on the bike trail a lot. He pops up having breakfast. He goes to Mass at St. Edmond’s in Rehoboth on Saturday evening. But I’m often too busy with work on weekends to catch sight of him.

Blade: Having been in the industry 40 years, how do you find ways to get excited about your work? 

Wilkinson: I really am passionate about it. I really love a challenge. That’s part of the appeal for this job. I always like matching people with things. I really liked getting people the right bathing suits years ago. Selling, it’s just something I’m good at. I would get customers walking outta’ the store with three or four bathing suits when they only wanted one. 

Blade: Are you considering retiring in the next few years? Or will you always be associated with the industry on some level. Maybe as a mentor or silent partner? 

Wilkinson: Oh, no, I’ll always be involved. Three of my four daughters work for me. I am not retiring anytime soon. And if I did, they would be here to continue it on, and I am sure I’d weigh in.

Blade: So, this is very much a family legacy?

Wilkinson: Yeah. My parents are 87 and 91 now. Some 20 years ago mom predicted we’d see an increase in prices, people moving here, etc. I don’t know how she predicted it but mom is right.

Blade: Any current trends you’re noticing? 

Wilkinson: This cycle of people moving here, and prices increasing, and all the building happening. People think the prices are going to come down, but I don’t see that happening.

Blade: Tell me about that. Are the new building ventures changing the faces of Rehoboth and Lewes? After not visiting the Jersey Shore for over a decade I’ve been going the past few summers to my cousin’s place in Cape May. It’s a trailer on a nicely maintained campground and it’s what she can afford. And, there’s so much building happening there.

Wilkinson: Right? It’s about finding a second home you can afford. And, in terms of building projects, the good thing about Rehoboth and Lewes is they are strict on what you can and can’t build downtown. They aren’t going to tear down homes to build multi-family condos, not yet anyway. In Spring Lake, you are seeing townhomes. So, building is happening and we have some condos, but it’s great to not see “overbuilding” happening in these historically smaller cities.

To learn more about Ms. Wilkinson, or property in Sussex County, DE be sure to look for articles she publishes in the Blade and visit the Lee Ann Wilkinson Group website.

Continue Reading

Local

Blum named director of new LGBTQ program at Carr Center

Program to expand research, training on safeguarding human rights

Published

on

Diego Garcia Blum

The Comings & Goings column is about sharing the professional successes of our community. We want to recognize those landing new jobs, new clients for their business, joining boards of organizations and other achievements. Please share your successes with us at: [email protected].

Congratulations to Diego Garcia Blum on his new position as director, Global LGBTQI+ Human Rights Program, at the Harvard, Carr Center for Human Rights Policy. This new program will expand research and training on safeguarding the human rights of LGBTQI+ people worldwide. It will address the escalating crisis of violence and discrimination against LGBTQI+ individuals globally. The vision is to establish the Carr Center as a key international nexus for LGBTQI+ human rights policy, training, ideas, and dialogue

 “The heart of this program is empowering and supporting the brave LGBTQI+ activists working in challenging and often perilous environments,” Garcia Blum said. “Through our training and high-impact research, we aim to supercharge their efforts.”

Prior to this, he has had a varied and impressive career. Recently he served as a Social Change Fellow at Harvard’s Center for Public Leadership. He worked with the Human Rights Campaign, serving on its Board of Governors. Prior to that, he worked as a nuclear engineer at Orano, a French company. It is described as a global leader in nuclear fuel cycle products and services, from mining to dismantling, conversion, enrichment, recycling, logistics and engineering. He has won many awards for his work and education. The Innovation CORE award at Orano; The Dean Joseph Weil Leadership Award, University of Florida; Most Outstanding Master in Public Policy Student – Ellen Raphael Award, Harvard Kennedy School. 

Continue Reading
Advertisement
Advertisement

Sign Up for Weekly E-Blast

Follow Us @washblade

Advertisement

Popular