Mourning Nevaeh ‘River’ Goddard: The Brutal Killing Of A 17 Year Old Nonbinary Teen in Massachusetts

River Nevaeh Goddard

The tragic death of 17 year old River Goddard, also known as Phoenix and Nevaeh has rocked their Rhode Island and Massachusetts communities. We have also learned that River identified as nonbinary.

The Crime

The National Center for Missing & Exploited Children listed River as a missing child since April 2022, around age 15.

On Friday, April 3, 2024 police in Stow, Massachusetts responded to a request for a welfare check.

When authorities got to the home, they said Shane Curry, 20, of Stow was at the door and wouldn’t let investigators inside for nearly two hours.

When police gained access, they said they found Goddard dead inside.


Police said Curry told them he stabbed Goddard with a sword. Officers later found a sword inside Curry’s bedroom.

Curry was charged with assault and battery on a household or family member and assault and battery causing serious bodily injury. An autopsy will be done to determine Goddard’s official cause of death and the Middlesex County DA said additional charges are possible.


Curry told police that he wanted River to discuss”her cheating and addiction.” He allegedly admitted that he stabbed River with a sword several times. “The bruises aren’t working…hitting her that’s not working, so ok, I have to knife her, so I do,” Curry stated to the police according to Boston25

Honoring River

As I wrote above, River also used their birth name Nevaeh Goddard and the name Phoenixx. River identified as nonbinary and used she/they pronouns. So there is no known deadname. Perhaps more accurately, they are all dead names because this teen was murdered in a vile and violent crime.

This came to light through the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children (NCMEC) listing reported on April 22, 2022. When gender identity is unconfirmed, gender is left blank on the report. When alternate names are reported, they are included in the data. In this case, gender was left blank and the names Nevaeh and Phoenixx were listed. Viktor Velstra with the Trans Doe Task Force has laid this out more completely on Twitter.

A significant BUT here. Erasing gender identity in this fashion has real world consequences. Most clearly, search options for “male” or “female” or even “unknown” does not capture the files with blank entries. Thus searching for kids who identify as nonbinary or trans or otherwise gendernonconforming would be futile – having to go through file by file creates another barrier to locate our missing youth.

That’s a clue that the missing child might be trans, nonbinary, or gender nonconforming. Until we find confirmation, we presume nonbinary and use they/them pronouns. Sometimes, friends and family provide a more robust description of the person’s identity. In this case, the span of time they were missing leaves many holes in their narrative. But I did confirm with multiple sources the information I shared.

River was born July 11, 2006 in Pennsylvania while her biological mother was incarcerated. At some point, child protective services placed River with their maternal grandfather, Michael Simmons in Pawtucket, Rhode Island.

In her early teen years, River was placed into foster care. Her mothers claim River contacted child welfare officials of their own volition. She spent some months living with her mother and stepmother. While the official missing child report is dated April 22, 2022, there is some indication on social media that River was actually missing or “on the run” between 2020-2021. However, by the April 2022 posting, River was allegedly living with the man who would murderer her. River 15, he was 17 or 18.

Reportedly, River was diagnosed with serious mental health concerns. Child welfare wanted to place them in a residential treatment facility. Friends have shared that River resisted treatment and may have self-medicated. It’s also possible the treatment referral was for addiction. Or both? River ran from it regardless.

River is being remembered as a friendly, kind-hearted person. Their social media content up until December 2023 intertwines fun group photos with family/friends with memes urging support for people living with mental illness and addiction. They shared fundraisers. They shared art. River often changed up their hair color.

According to their obituary “She had an amazing, outgoing personality. She was very creative and artistic, she loved to write her own music. Her cuddly nature was only matched by her quick wit, and goofiness.” The funeral will be Saturday, April 20, 2024.

Update: according to GLAAD, River Nevaeh identified as pansexual.

The Context

The timeline of events in River’s life are hard to firm up. In part, this is due to privacy issues for a minor teen. In part, it seems River moved around a bit between birth family and foster placements. Most of their social media stops between 2021 and 2022. That’s when they seemed to live with the man who would kill them.

What’s unspoken is what led them to end up in foster care, to be separated from their biological family for so long, But even more so, is this period of time between 2022 and 2024 when River ran away and was living with someone. It seems that a lot of people, including family members, knew where she was, but they didn’t notify authorities. And how aggressively were child welfare officials in Rhode Island and Massachusetts searching? If so many people on TikTok are discussing this now, was it really a secret?

The radio silence on social media suggests River was isolated and cut off from their support system. This is often the case with domestic violence. It allows the abuser to maintain control over their victim. But I question a 15 year old kid living with an 18 year old paramour. Did they go to school? Family is claiming River weighed only 75 lbs at the time of their death, something the autopsy will confirm. There are numerous red flags here.

I can’t help but think about Nex Benedict. Nex’s identity and name were never reported by Owasso, Oklahoma media. It took a tip and careful combing of social media to confirm. Eventually, Nex’s friends clarified that Nex also identified as trans masculine, using he/him pronouns.

Even all these months later, significant details about the abuse and neglect of their childhood remain unexamined although arguable salient. Like River, we know child welfare was involved. Will there be an investigation of any of these entities?

And now we have River, also nonbinary. I learned that possibility from the NCEMC documentation procedures. It stands to reason they had solid leads that River was not a cisgender teen.

River identified as nonbinary and used she/they pronouns. All of the mainstream reporting uses her birth name and she/her pronouns. I want there to be a record of River as well as Nevaeh, a memorial that focuses on their life not only the circumstances of their death.

The question becomes: why didn’t other media outlets note this important detail. Why didn’t law enforcement processing the murder? River was a minor so I understand child welfare could not disclose. It’s bad enough they lost this kid.

Why is it that my little blog, in both cases, was able to confirm that both of these young people were nonbinary? Is it because I remain open to the possibility that anyone might not be a cisgender heterosexual person?

More importantly than my work is the bigger question of when everyone – media, law enforcement, schools, and family – will realize that assumptions about identity are poor investigation skills. This happens a lot with adults, especially trans women who might be described as a “man in women’s clothes” instead of allowing for the realization they might be a trans woman.

River’s identity as nonbinary is relevant to their death. River being non-binary is relevant to their murder, an important aspect of who they are. We should be asking why family, schools, social service organizations, missing persons organizations, law enforcement, and the media are so comfortable with erasing pieces of people.

Do they think GNC people are less worthy of protection, are less sympathetic victims, etc? Is this just another facet of missing white woman syndrome, where any victim who isn’t a middle class white woman gets largely ignored?

Or maybe it is just one detail about River that represents her life and all that was lost when someone took it from them.

River Goddard is the 12th person whose death is recorded in 2024. River is the 2nd nonbinary person. At 17, they are nearly the youngest. River is the second victim of domestic violence or intimate partner violence this year. As of now, a trans person has been killed in the US every eight days in 2024.

Rest in power, River. You deserved better during each moment of your life. You deserved love, support, joy, and happiness. You deserved to grow up. We all let you down, but you still strove to carve out a life for yourself. I hope you remember the joy filled moments. I hope we wrestle with how we stole your joy and find better paths forward

May your memory be a revolution.

This is our list

This is our list of transgender, nonbinary, and gender nonconforming neighbors who have been victims of the campaign of terror in 2024. Please do not copy, modify, or share this list without attribution.

  1. Kitty Monroe – January 1, 2024. Phoenix, Arizona. Age 43.
  2. Nex Benedict – February 8, 2024. Owasso, Oklahoma. Age 16.
  3. Righteous Torrence ‘T K’ Chevy Hill – February 29, Atlanta. Georgia. Age 35.
  4. Reyna Hernandez – Between Feb 28 and March 28, location TBD. Age 54.
  5. Diamond Cherish Brigman – March 16, 2024, Houston, Texas. Age 36.
  6. Alex Franco – March 19, 2024. Salt Lake City, Utah. Age 21.
  7. Meraxes Medina – March 19, 2024, Los Angeles, California. Age 24.
  8. Cecilia Gentili – February 6, 2024, New YorkCity, New York. Age 52.
  9. Ryan Zimmerman – Sept 2015, Columbus OH Age 21 Murdered 2016, Identified 2020, reported 2024.
  10. Lagend Billions aka Tee Arnold – April 7, 2024, Miami, Ohio. Age 36.
  11. África Parrilla García – February 2, 2024, San Juan, Puerto Rico. Age 25.
  12. Nevaeh ‘River’ Goddard – April 5, 2024,. Stow, Massachusetts. Age 17,


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