Glee star Naya Rivera is said to have seemed ‘happy,’ ‘busy’ and ‘just kind of living life’ weeks before her four-year-old son was found alone in Lake Piru, Ventura County, California, where she is now missing and presumed dead.
‘Everybody is in a wait-and-see pattern and trying to figure out exactly what happened,’ a source close to the star has told PEOPLE Magazine on Thursday.
The source is said to have seen Rivera, 33, just a few weeks ago and also revealed how her loved ones are in ‘disbelief’ over her disappearance and the circumstances, as her son Josey Dorsey ‘comes first’ to the star.
‘Everyone is in disbelief’: Naya Rivera (pictured above in 2017) seemed ‘happy’ before disappearance as a source tells PEOPLE Magazine that her four-year-old son Josey ‘comes first’
The source explained that while ‘back in the day’ Rivera’s life was ‘all about her career’ she had recently shifted her priorities on being a doting mother to her son.
‘Her son comes first. That’s apparent in everything she’s posted and done. Everything is about her son,’ the source told the outlet, adding: ‘Everybody is in disbelief.’
Police said on Thursday that the search and rescue mission for Rivera is now being considered a recovery operation, a day after she vanished from the California lake where she’d been boating with her son.
Rivera vanished on Wednesday while on Lake Piru with her son Josey, who told police that she’d ‘jumped’ into the water to go swimming and never came back. He was found asleep on their drifting boat.
Naya and her son Josey: The pair were on Lake Piru in California yesterday afternoon when Rivera vanished and is feared to have drowned. She shared the right-hand image just a day before her disappearance, with the caption: ‘Just the two of us’
As search and rescue teams searched the lake on Thursday, local sheriffs gave grim details about the lake which Rivera was familiar with and had been visiting for years.
Ventura County Deputy Sheriff Chris Dyer said on Thursday that Lake Piru was a ‘sanctuary’ for Naya, she was familiar with the lake and has been going there for years.
Rivera welcomed her son, Josey Hollis, with then-husband Ryan Dorsey in 2015. She called her young son ‘my greatest success, and I will never do any better than him’ in her 2016 memoir ‘Sorry Not Sorry.’
Naya Rivera and Ryan Dorsey: The couple had an on-off relationship including a four-year marriage from 2014 and 2018 which led to the birth of a son, Josey Hollis Dorsey
Rivera and Hollis divorced in 2018, after Rivera had earlier applied to end the marriage in 2016 but the couple had initially reconciled.
On Thanksgiving weekend 2017, Rivera was arrested in West Virginia on suspicion of domestic battery against Dorsey. The Kanawha County Sheriff’s Office said Dorsey later asked that Rivera not be prosecuted.
Dorsey, also an actor, has appeared on shows including Ray Donavan and Justified.
Former Glee co-star Matthew Morrison defended Rivera at the time of her arrest, saying she was a ‘great mom’.
Divers search Lake Piru for any sign of Naya Rivera on Thursday morning. The Glee actress vanished after going for a swim from a pontoon boat she had rented with her son
Initially, police had hoped to find the actress alive and were searching the expansive shoreline as well as in the water. Now though, they say the mission is a recovery operation.
‘There’s no evidence of foul play at this point. This may well be a case of drowning,’ sheriff’s Capt. Eric Buschow said.
He said it was an employee who works at the boat shack who found the boat and the child in the north part of the lake.
‘My indication is that the child was found sleeping on the boat,’ he said at a press conference near the lake Thursday.
‘I’ve been told Naya Rivera has been coming here for years and she is familiar with the lake. This might be a little sanctuary for her, especially on a Wednesday – no one’s here on a Wednesday so it’s a good day to come. She rented the boat.’
Deputy Sheriff Dyer added: ‘We’re not presuming her dead and right now it’s still a search and rescue operation, we’re searching not only the water but the shoreline. We hope for the best and prepare for the worst.’
Rivera was arrested on a domestic battery charge (pictured left) on Thanksgiving weekend in 2017 after being accused of striking Dorsey (pictured together right), who eventually asked for the prosecution not to go ahead
The senior officer said at this point all signs point to this being a horrible accident.
‘There was no collision or signs of struggle,’ he said. ‘We are using our helicopters, we are using our dive teams, we are using sonar equipment and our unmanned aerial drone team.
‘It’s extremely difficult to search this lake, it goes from depths of 40ft to 5ft.
‘Visibility in the daytime is 8 to 10 inches. At nighttime it’s zero. Everywhere you see a buoy on the lake is a low part.
‘There’s full-grown trees and debris under the lake. It’s been a couple years since someone drowned here in Lake Piru, that an accident’s happened in the lake, but it has happened before,’ he said.