LAGUNA BEACH, Calif. — Law enforcement authorities in Southern California said a man is in custody, accused of murdering a 27-year-old woman whose body was found badly beaten in an alley behind a restaurant in a seaside community over the weekend.
The body of Tatum Goodwin, of San Clemente, was discovered Sunday, Nov. 12, about 8:20 a.m. by a construction worker who called the Laguna Beach Police Department. Officers responded to an alleyway near the 200 block of Ocean Avenue, behind Carmelita’s restaurant where she had worked as a waitress and assistant manager for four years. Upon arrival, they saw the woman’s lifeless body, which showed signs of trauma consistent with homicide, authorities said, according to KTLA.
On Wednesday evening, Laguna Beach Police announced the arrest of Dino Rojas-Moreno, 27, a resident of nearby Laguna Hills. Officials said he had been identified as a suspect in the murder investigation, and was taken into custody earlier in the day with the assistance of the Newport Beach and Anaheim Police Departments, according to a press release from the Laguna Beach Police Department.
Police did not offer further details or a motive for the homicide. It is unclear if Goodwin knew her accused killer. Detectives believe the murder was an isolated incident and there is no further threat to the community.
Rojas-Moreno was booked into jail and is being held on $1 million bail.
The brutal nature of the killing has stunned the small, artsy coastal community known for its beachfront boutiques, restaurants and bars, not to mention expensive real estate.
Hundreds of mourners gathered Wednesday night at the San Clemente Pier to pay tribute to Goodwin.
“She was just a happy-go-lucky person that would give you the shirt off her back,” the 27-year-old’s mother, Stacy Goodwin-Pitino said. “That’s who Tatum was.”
Kaylee Goodwin, the victim’s sister, said her sibling left a favorable impression on those who interacted with her.
“Her light shined so bright that it impacted so many different people,” she said.
One unidentified mourner said, “She was a ‘bring-you-Carl’s-Jr-to-work-and-sit-with-you-while-you’re-stuck-working-on-Thanksgiving’ friend,” FOX 11 Los Angeles reported.
Goodwin’s friends told a KTLA reporter that she left work Saturday night and joined them at nearby Hennessey’s Tavern and later at the Marine Room. Both establishments are located just steps from the beach.