‘Happy-go-lucky’ California woman, 27, allegedly murdered by ‘super weird’ bartender, gruesome details tell horrific story

News & Politics

Ghastly details have emerged about the horrific death of a beloved young woman in Laguna Beach, California.

Around 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 12, a construction worker found a female body near a secluded alleyway near Carmelita’s Restaurant, according to KTTV.

Law enforcement identified the deceased woman as Tatum Goodwin – a 27-year-old from San Clemente, who worked at Carmelita’s Restaurant.

Friends of Goodwin told KTLA that she had joined them for post-work drinks the night before her body was discovered.

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On Nov. 15, officers with the Laguna Beach Police Department arrested Dino Rojas-Moreno after securing “enough information and evidence,” authorities said during a press conference.

Rojas-Moreno was charged with one felony count of murder, one felony enhancement of special circumstances of committing the murder in the commission of a kidnapping, and one felony enhancement for the personal use of a weapon, according to the district attorney’s office.

Rojas-Moreno – a 26-year-old from Laguna Hills – is currently being detained without bail, according to reports.

The Orange County District Attorney’s Office suspects that Rojas-Moreno approached Goodwin in a parking lot around 1 a.m. on Nov. 12. Authorities believe that he assaulted Goodwin near her parked car.

“Rojas-Moreno then forcefully dragged her to the rear of the parking lot, down a short alley, and to a secluded area behind a movie theatre that was under construction,” the Orange County District Attorney’s Office said in a press release. “Rojas-Moreno is then accused of beating Goodwin to death with a fire extinguisher. Goodwin was found several hours later.”

Goodwin’s body was found under a chain link fence on a construction site and a sandbag had been placed on her head, authorities said.

Rojas-Moreno didn’t show up to his bartending job on the day of the murder, and claimed that he had been attacked by several men in Santa Ana.

Law enforcement and the victim’s family have no proof that Goodwin knew her alleged killer before her sudden and gruesome death.

Goodwin’s friend and neighbor, Georgette Schuda, told the Orange County Register that Rojas-Moreno “had no prior relationship or direct connection to Goodwin.”

Schuda recalled interacting with Rojas-Morena at a restaurant.

“I definitely have served him before and thought he was super weird because he was unnecessarily rude and aggressive,” Schuda said.

Goodwin’s friends and family gathered at the San Clemente Pier on Wednesday for a candlelight vigil to remember the slain young woman.

“She was just a happy-go-lucky person that would give you the shirt off her back. That’s who Tatum was,” said Stacy Goodwin-Pitino – Tatum’s mother.

A GoFundMe campaign was launched by Goodwin’s employer to raise funds for funeral services and to create a memorial in her honor.

Goodwin reportedly worked at Carmelita’s Restaurant for four years.

“Tatum was a very hard-working young lady and always kept a smile on her face,” said Marcos Salim Heredia – owner of the Carmelita’s Restaurant. “Over the years she had expressed her pleasure to be in Laguna and have her opportunity with us. We felt that we really had a family member here with us.”

Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer stated, “The loss of an innocent life is a travesty for the entire community. It is heartbreaking that a young woman with her entire future ahead of her had her life ended in such a brutal way and then discarded like her life never matter. She mattered, and the Orange County District Attorney’s Office is committed to ensuring justice is served.”

Rojas-Moreno is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 20 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

Anyone with information on the murder is urged to contact the Laguna Beach Police Department at 949-497-0369. Tips can also be provided to Orange County Crime Stoppers at 855-TIP-OCCS.

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