Family grieves for slain Pleasanton mother, body dumped in Bay Area shoreline

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Rachel Elizabeth Imani Buckner was a “beautiful and radiant light,” her grieving family wrote in the wake of her violent death.

In July, the 27-year-old woman was allegedly murdered by her boyfriend, dismembered, and dumped along Bay Farm Island’s shoreline in Alameda

“Rachel — referred to affectionately by close family and friends as Imani — was tragically taken from this Earth. To anyone that got to know and be around Imani, she was a beautiful and radiant light. She had an infectious spirit that you could not help but smile when around,” the victim’s mother wrote on a GoFundMe page created to cover funeral expenses and support Buckner’s young daughter.

Buckner graduated from Howard University for undergraduate studies and earned a juris doctorate at Golden Gate University, her family said.

“Imani was an accomplished woman on her way to being an exceptional professional. She was at the beginning of her life and her journey. (She) had so much more life to live,” the victim’s mother, S. Jamila Buckner, wrote.

Buckner’s accused killer, Joseph Roberts, 42, is in custody in Santa Rita Jail. 

On July 20, a citizen found remains on the shoreline. The body was identified to be of Rachel Buckner’s. Her head, hands, and feet were reportedly severed from the body. 

After a two-month-long homicide investigation, Robers was arrested. 

“In my 25 years as a police officer, I have never seen anything as disturbing as this,” Police Chief Nishant Joshi said.

Alameda Police Sgt. Spencer Mountain said, “This one is pretty brutal.”

Investigators are still working to establish a motive. DNA evidence linked Roberts to the killing, police said. “Primarily, the main evidence in this case is DNA. His DNA and her DNA linking them together,” Mountain said.

The homicide victim and suspect lived together in Pleasanton, and they had no ties to Alameda, police said.


Charlene is a Bay Area journalist who hails from the small community of Fresno. Drawing from her experience writing for her college paper, Charlene continues to advocate for free press and local journalism. She also volunteers in all the beach cleanups she can because she loves the water.