A 42-year-old man from California, Joseph C. Roberts, has been apprehended and charged with the murder of his 27-year-old fiancée, Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, whose dismembered body was found wrapped in plastic along a shoreline in July, according to law enforcement officials. Buckner’s death was ruled a homicide following an autopsy conducted by the Alameda Police Department.
Buckner’s remains were discovered on July 20, encased in plastic and secured with duct tape, as per court documents. Her head, hands, and feet had been severed from her body and remain missing. The victim was identified in late August after DNA evidence was processed.
Investigations into Roberts’ phone records revealed that he last communicated with Buckner on July 13. Since then, he had been in contact with at least three other women. Roberts also reportedly used Buckner’s phone and car in the weeks following her death, according to Alameda Police Detective Robert Hansen.
The couple, who had been in a relationship for several years and shared a residence in the suburb of Pleasanton, were both arrested in 2022 for allegedly breaking into Buckner’s mother’s home and assaulting her family members.
Roberts never reported Buckner missing, and his DNA was found on the tape used to wrap her body. “This indicates that he was aware of her death, her dismemberment, and he played an active role in concealing her body in plastic garbage bags,” stated Detective Hansen.
Roberts is facing charges of murder, circumstance in aggravation, and special allegation of great bodily injury, as per jail records.
Buckner’s remains were found by a passerby walking on a trail near the Bay Farm Island Bridge, according to Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi. “This is a deeply disturbing case,” Joshi commented. Buckner’s family has been informed and is reportedly devastated.
Roberts was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Service and police from Pleasanton and Alameda. The motive behind the murder remains unclear, and the exact time of Buckner’s death has not been determined. Roberts is scheduled to be arraigned in Alameda County Superior Court on Friday morning. Alameda police are urging anyone with information that could aid the investigation to come forward.