Fiancé arrested after Bay Area law school student’s body washes up in a bag


Police arrested a 42-year-old man in connection with the killing of a woman whose body was found dismembered in a bag along a coastline in Alameda County last month.

The woman was identified as Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, 27, police announced Thursday in a news release. Her body was discovered on July 20 near the Bay Farm Island Bridge spanning the San Leandro Channel, in the San Francisco Bay Area. Authorities initially had little information to go on because the body was dismembered, investigators told Bay Area news station KTVU.

Police identified Buckner through DNA evidence on Aug. 30. Additional evidence helped investigators locate a primary suspect, Joseph C. Roberts, and on Sept. 6 he was arrested by U.S. marshals in connection with Buckner’s death, according to police. Roberts said he and Buckner were engaged to be married and lived together in Pleasanton in Alameda County, according to charging documents reviewed by KTVU.


A 31-year-old suspect has been arrested in the fatal stabbing of a man on a Metro B line train at Pershing Square station in downtown Los Angeles.

Sept. 10, 2023

Alameda County jail records show that Roberts was arrested on suspicion of murder and other charges and is being held in the Santa Rita Jail with no set bail. He is set to appear in an Oakland courtroom on Sept. 21 to enter a plea.

“To anyone that got to know and be around Imani, she was a beautiful and radiant light,” Buckner’s mother, S. Jamila Buckner, wrote in a post that accompanied a GoFundMe campaign. “She had an infectious spirit that you could not help but smile when around and gravitate towards.”

Buckner was also a mother and the family seeks to raise funds not only for funeral expenses, but also for her daughter’s needs.

Family members told KTVU that Buckner was an honors student at Dougherty Valley High School and grew up in San Ramon, Calif. She attended Howard University, which her father also attended, and she graduated with a double major in philosophy and sports management. She moved back to California from Washington, D.C., and was recently enrolled as a student at Golden Gate University School of Law. Her family said she was only a few months away from earning her law degree.

“Her death has left a void that is indescribable in her community and village,” the Buckner family said in a written statement to the news station.