Jury convicts boyfriend of murdering Rachel Buckner in Pleasanton

(KRON) — A jury convicted a Pleasanton man who murdered his girlfriend, dismembered her body, and dumped the young woman’s remains on Bay Farm Island in Alameda, prosecutors said.

Jurors deliberated for less than a day before finding 43-year-old Joseph Roberts guilty of second-degree murder on Monday, the Alameda County District Attorney’s Office said.

The victim, Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner, was a young mother and law school student. Her loved ones described Buckner as a “beautiful and radiant light.”

The 2023 murder case rattled even veteran law enforcement officers. “In my 25 years as a police officer, I have never seen anything as disturbing as this,” Alameda Police Chief Nishant Joshi said following Roberts’ arrest.

Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner
Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner (Image courtesy GoFundMe)

Buckner, 27, graduated from Howard University before enrolling in law school, her family said. Roberts and Buckner met at Golden Gate University Law School in 2019 and lived together in an apartment in Pleasanton. Police records show Pleasanton police officers were called to the apartment for multiple domestic violence calls.

Although Roberts was living with his girlfriend at the time of her disappearance, he never reported that she was missing to police.

Buckner’s partial remains were found in a garbage bag along the Alameda shoreline on July 20, 2023. Buckner’s head, hands, and feet had been severed from her torso by someone who used power tools, the Mercury News reported.

“The condition of her body when it was found shocks our humanity,” District Attorney Pamela Price said.

Evidence presented at trial showed Roberts’ DNA was found on duct tape used to seal the
garbage bag. The victim’s boyfriend was arrested two months later and has been held in Santa Rita Jail ever since.

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Roberts will face 15 years-to-life in prison when he is sentenced on June 14 at Rene C. Davidson Courthouse in Oakland.

Price said, “What happened to Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner is unimaginable. I first want to thank the jury for their work in delivering this guilty verdict. 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. This tragedy will leave her family and our community forever traumatized whenever her murder is mentioned.”

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