A California man has been arrested and charged with the murder of his fiancé, whose dismembered body was found in a plastic bag along a shoreline in Alameda, California, in July.
Joseph C. Roberts, 42, is accused of killing Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, 27, and cutting off her head, hands, and feet. He allegedly wrapped some of her body parts in duct tape and concealed them in garbage bags before dumping them near the Bay Farm Island Bridge. A passerby discovered the remains while walking on a trail on July 20.
Police said they identified Buckner’s body through DNA testing on Aug. 30 and found Roberts’ DNA on the duct tape that was used to wrap her body. They also said Roberts had Buckner’s phone and car and used her phone to communicate with at least three other women after her death.
Roberts and Buckner had been dating for several years and lived together in an apartment in Pleasanton, about 40 miles southeast of Alameda. They had a turbulent relationship and were both arrested last year for allegedly breaking into Buckner’s mother’s home and assaulting her family. Roberts reportedly called Buckner his fiancée at the time.
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Police said they searched Roberts’ and Buckner’s apartment on Wednesday and found evidence that the murder took place there. They arrested Roberts at the scene and booked him into the Santa Rita Jail in Alameda. He is facing one count of murder with a special circumstance allegation of torture.
Buckner’s family said they were devastated by the news of her death and described her as a loving and caring person who had a bright future ahead of her. They said they had lost contact with her after the arrests last year and did not know she was still with Roberts.
Police Chief Nishant Joshi said the case was one of the most gruesome and disturbing he had ever seen in his career. He praised the work of his detectives and forensic experts who solved the case despite the challenges posed by the condition of the body. He also thanked the public for their tips and cooperation during the investigation.