Calif. Man Guilty of Killing Girlfriend and Leaving Dismembered Body on Shoreline: 'Shocks Our Humanity'

"This tragedy will leave her family and our community forever traumatized," said Alameda Country District Attorney Pamela Price



A California man has been sentenced to life over the murder of his girlfriend, whose dismembered remains were found in July 2023 along a waterfront trail in Alameda.

The Office of the Alameda County District Attorney said in a press release that a California jury found Joseph Roberts, 43, guilty of second-degree murder in the death of his 27-year-old girlfriend Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, and could now face a sentence of anywhere between 15 years to life.

The District Attorney’s office said the jury decided on the verdict after deliberating “for less than a day” following the testimony and evidence brought forward to the court.

The investigation began when the Alameda Police Department responded to a “suspicious circumstance report” and found a woman’s dismembered body inside a black garbage bag near the Harbor Bay Club on Bay Farm Island on July 20, 2023, the district attorney’s office said.

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Prosecutors later presented evidence in court of Roberts’ DNA, which was “found on the duct tape” used to seal the garbage bag.

Through further investigation, detectives found that Roberts and Buckner had “met” at Golden Gate University Law School in 2019 and then “lived together in an apartment in Pleasanton,” where police were previously called multiple times for “welfare checks and domestic violence calls.”

They also noted in court that Buckner had lived with Roberts “at the time of her disappearance” and never “reported that she was missing" throughout the two months it took detectives to identify her remains after they were found.

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“Today’s verdict brings justice not only to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner but also to her daughter, her immediate and extended family, and our community,” Alameda County District Attorney Pamela Price said in a statement.

“What happened to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner is unimaginable,” she continued. “The condition of her body when it was found shocks our humanity. This tragedy will leave her family and our community forever traumatized whenever her murder is mentioned.”

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Following the news of Buckner’s death, her family shared in a statement to KTVU, "her death has left a void that is indescribable in her community and village.”

According to Price’s office, Roberts will be sentenced on June 14, 2024, at the René C. Davidson Courthouse.

If you are experiencing domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.

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