Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Dave Rothenberg, David Rothenberg Burn Victim, Charles Rothenberg(photos courtesy of (ocregister.com)

March 3-10, 1983: Charles had spent most of his life in and out of prison. At the time of the incident, he was divorced from David's mother. He asked to take his son on a trip. After several days he called and asked Marie if he could spend more time with David. Angrily, Marie told him that if they did not get back there he would never see David again. Later that day, they checked into the Buena Park motel, and as David slept (after giving him sleeping pills), he kissed him, poured kerosene all around the bed, lit a fire, and was seen speeding away in a white car. He later returned to watch as the flames engulfed the motel room. Motel guests dragged the boy to safety. A national alert was issued for Charles Rothenberg. Before his arrest Charles called the police to get an update on his son, but he refused to turn himself in. Charles, later confessed that he did it because he thought that his ex wife would never let him see his son again. The incident also took place one day after Charles was to turn himself in for the vandalism and burglary of a restaurant. He was finally arrested on March 10, 1988 outside of a YMCA.

 March 24, 1983: David opens his eyes for the first time

April 8, 1983: Little David starts to speak again. He also starts to ask for his father. Up until that point, David had not been informed that it was his father who set him on fire. He held out his arms and said: "Mommy, I hurt myself."About 2 months later, his mother finally tells him. David was absolutely heart broken. He did not understand why his father would do that to him. His mother reassured him that his father did love him, but that he was very ill. David stated that he never wanted to see him again.

June 8th, 1983: David arrives in Boston sporting a baseball cap given to him by Reggie Jackson

June 10, 1983: David arrives at Boston's Shriner Burn Institute

June 19, 1983: David receives a birthday card from President Ronald Reagan

July 30, 1983: Charles David Rothenberg is sentenced to 13 years for setting his son on fire in a Buena Vista motel room.  As the verdict was given the Judge James R Franks said: that’s not enough time for what you did because of a quirk in the law, 13 years is the maximum I can give you. But that is far too low, in my opinion, for what you did." Rothenberg, 43, cried as he asked for his son’s forgiveness. In a separate interview, Charles said that he "should have got more" than the 13 years in prison, and that he was willing to "go to the highest level in order to see" his son again. He also stated that he loved his son very much, and that he is not a sick person. Really Charles? If that is not sick tell us what is....David’s mother, Marie, had traveled from Boston to be in court that day.

October 1988: The movie "David" starring Bernadette Peters debuts

January 24, 1990: Charles Rothenberg is paroled after 6 1/2 years. He was quietly released and moved  to a secret location a little past midnight in order to avoid the media. In October 1990, Charles violated parole and was sent back to prison for 8 months.

October 19, 1990|

June 2001: Charles is arrested for possession of 44 rounds of ammunition and handgun possession.

April 2005: He is sentenced to 8 months for weapons possession.

2007: He is re sentenced under the three strikes you're out to 25 years in prison for weapons charges (at age66)

Extra Tidbits
His mother had a gut feeling that something was not right.
Charles was acting especially weird the day he picked up his son.
David now goes by the name Dave Dave and lives in Provo, Utah
He appeared on Larry King Live in 2009 speaking on the death of Michael Jackson, he said that Michael Jackson was like a father to him
At age 34 he is an aspiring singer
It is rumored that he and his mother are no longer on good terms 


  1. This is a sad but inspiring story. It shows to not give up and always have hope. I was very suprised to see that it was his father who set him on fire. This is very sad that his father would even think about setting him on fire. I can not beleive that his father could live with himself after burning his son in an attempted murder. I really can not beleive he wanted to see his son after he had caused that much pain to him.

    1. you are so right that was wrong that man did that to hisband song i hope dave dave be ok and get married and have kids of his own god bless him

    2. Dave, you are awesome person. I wish you the best in life. Keep working on your music and teaching. I think you are a beautiful person on the inside and on the out!!

  2. If I was David I would have hunted down and slowly killed my father. He would have suffered even more than David did. Hell if I knew about this then and was old enough I would have helped David torture his Dad gladly.

  3. Dave Dave MJ is alive if u didn't know god bless you

  4. that is soooooo michael jackson!!!!! Can't u hear the voice?!?!

  5. as a little girl I watched David and it broke my heart, and didn't know that Matthew Lawrence played David (I had a huge crush on him) and when I found out I was astounded but God bless David, his story still makes me cry.

  6. David I can only imagine the heartache you must feel not having your mom in your life and Charles never repenting of being a criminal of the worst kind. Find peace and love in God. his word says he will be your father when your parents forsake you. and you will receive beauty for ashes. love and peace to you.

  7. i know his is a good person but sometimes he scares me.I wish he get married and have some beautiful children.God bless you Dave