Berkeley woman charged with fatal stabbing of her mother

The Alameda County DA's office charged Gabriella Riemer on Wednesday morning with the murder of 60-year-old Heather Riemer.

Berkeley woman charged with fatal stabbing of her mother
A Berkeley police officer uses his cellphone outside 1370 University Ave. during a homicide investigation Sunday, March 17, 2024. David Yee

A 23-year-old woman has been charged with the fatal stabbing of her mother inside their Berkeley apartment over the weekend, court papers show.

The Alameda County district attorney's office charged Gabriella Riemer on Wednesday morning with the murder of 60-year-old Heather Riemer, according to charging papers.

The older woman was found disfigured with multiple fatal stab wounds "on and throughout" her entire body, Berkeley police have said.

Police wrote that Gabriella Riemer said during an interview that she "did not remember much of what had occurred" Sunday, the day of the stabbing, which took place inside a large apartment complex at 1370 University Ave.

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Aipsasiamedia was the first to report this incident.

Surveillance footage showed both women walking back to their apartment together at about 1:15 p.m. Sunday, police wrote. The stabbing took place at about 2:45 p.m.

Gabriella Riemer initially told BPD dispatchers, in a call that was recorded, that "she had stabbed her mother in self-defense," police wrote.

"Gabriella laughed hysterically during the playing of this audio recording" during a subsequent interview, according to BPD.

The younger woman had no wounds on her body when first responders examined her and did not report any injuries, police wrote.

Gabriella Riemer. BPD

Gabriella Riemer, whose last name is incorrectly spelled "Reimer" in several official records online, remains in custody without bail as of Wednesday morning.

She is scheduled for arraignment Thursday morning, according to jail records. She is being held without bail.

Berkeley police initially declined to release a booking photograph of Gabriella Riemer, citing the ongoing investigation.

The photograph was added to this story when it later became available.

Riemer graduated from Berkeley High School in 2018, community members told The Scanner.

Heather Riemer worked in the mental health system

Heather Riemer. PEERS

Heather Riemer worked as a program coordinator for a mental health-focused nonprofit in Oakland called PEERS, according to her LinkedIn page and the PEERS Facebook page.

She began working for PEERS in 2016, according to her LinkedIn page. At one point, she led the tobacco harm reduction program there and also ran a number of workshops for the organization.

"Heather has struggled with her own personal issues stemming from the trauma in her early life," her PEERS bio, which is no longer posted, read. "Depression and anxiety have plagued her since she was young, leading to homelessness and hospitals. Heather wants to help change the mental health care system so others will know that recovery is real."

According to her online bios, Heather Riemer had three children and was originally from Hawaii.

"Her greatest joy is her 3 children, who are now young adults, making their way in the world," her PEERS bio read.

In addition to her harm reduction work, Riemer also "worked with individuals experiencing psychosis to let them know that they [are] not alone. She also facilitated … presentations geared toward providers to assist with developing a common language that honors the strengths of people with mental health experiences."

Riemer was also a board member for the Bay Area Hearing Voices Network.

"Heather is a person who has extraordinary experiences of many different kinds. It has made her sensitive to other people’s struggles," her short bio on that site reads. "She has been a long-time advocate of mental health services and envisions a world where people just don't suffer so much."

The Scanner has asked PEERS and Hearing Voices for comment.

This story was updated slightly after publication to include more information about Heather Riemer. Separately, a booking photograph was added to the story March 21 when BPD made it available.

Woman dead in Berkeley’s first homicide of 2024
Police arrested 23-year-old Gabriella Riemer at 10:45 p.m. Sunday on suspicion of murder, according to jail records online.
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