Tatum Goodwin murdered by Laguna Beach bartender, Dino Rojas-Moreno in vicious murder. Did the two know each other. A case of infatuation, spurned advances, obsessive rage?
Around 8:20 p.m. on Nov. 12, a construction worker found the body of a badly battered female near a secluded alleyway near Carmelita’s Restaurant, according to KTTV.
Laguna Beach police identified the victim as Tatum Goodwin – a 27-year-old woman from San Clemente, who worked at Carmelita’s Restaurant for the last 4 years.
Brutal vicious murder of woman
Friends of Goodwin told KTLA that she had joined them for post-work drinks the night before her body was discovered. It would be the last time they would ever see the ‘happy go lucky’ assistant manager alive.
On Nov. 15, Dino Rojas-Moreno was arrested after cops were able to secure ‘enough information and evidence,’ the Laguna Beach Police Dept said during a press conference.
Rojas-Moreno, 26, 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.
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.
Actions of an obsessed infatuated spurned man?
Law enforcement and the victim’s family have no proof that Goodwin knew her alleged killer before her sudden and gruesome death.
Nevertheless the violent crime suggested a very personal retribution against the woman, as if Goodwin may have at some point spurned the possible advances of Rojas-Moreno, to the point where the man became obsessive and consumed with rage.
Goodwin’s friend and neighbor, Georgette Schuda, told the Orange County Register that Rojas-Moreno ‘had no prior relationship or direct connection to Goodwin.’
Rojas-Moreno worked on the same Laguna Beach strip as Goodwin’s restaurant at the Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill, the OC Register reported. While no conclusive proof that the two actually knew each other, it would have been highly likely that hospitality workers in the tight knit community knew each other or at least were aware of the other.
Although they worked just minutes from each other, investigators have yet to establish if the two had met.
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.
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.’
‘she was my soulmate, best friend, other half,’
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.
Added Madison Moyer, Goodwin best friend, ‘she was my soulmate, best friend, other half, she was the person who brought me peace when I couldn’t find it myself.’
‘She was just such a loving, honest person,’ added her friend Aleena Macintosh. ‘You just wouldn’t think that anything would happen to her.’
A GoFundMe campaign was launched by Goodwin’s employer to raise funds for funeral services and to create a memorial in her honor.
Rojas-Moreno is scheduled to be arraigned on Nov. 20 at the Central Justice Center in Santa Ana. He remains held without bond.
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.