A man has been arrested in connection to the death of a woman whose body was found inside a suitcase near a garbage bin outside a California hotel, authorities said.
Joshua Palmer, 33, was taken into custody on Friday and charged with first degree murder in the killing of 21-year-old Shauna Hayes, according to reports.
Hayes’ body was found inside a suitcase near a row of trash cans at the rear of the Chadwick hotel in San Diego after a passerby spotted the luggage and called police about 11 a.m. Wednesday.
An initial investigation revealed that the luggage containing Hayes’ body had been dumped into one of the trash cans it was found next to, police told reporters.
"At some point, we believe, it was in the trash can. When it was reported to us it was out of the trash can," said Manuel Del Toro, acting lieutenant for the San Diego Police Department's homicide unit, the Los Angeles Times reported. "Somebody had to go in and take it out."
But Hayes’ loved ones who were devastated by the gruesome discovery said they wanted the young woman to be remembered for more than her death.
“Myself, all of her coworkers, her family, and her friends do not want Shauna remembered as ‘the girl they found in a suitcase,’” former coworker and friend Kelsea Lake wrote on a GoFundMe page created to offset funeral costs.
“Shauna was the sweetest, most beautiful, and spunky girl. Her smile lit up a room every time she entered it,” Lake continued. “She showed up to work every day with a huge smile and kicked butt.”
Others took to social media to express their sorrow over Hayes’ death.
“This is just so surreal and unfortunate but my prayers, love and condolences goes out to everyone,” one person posted online.
Another person posted on Facebook: “Rest in Peace Shauna Haynes, you were such a beautiful girl who lit up the room as soon as you walked in. [H]e won't get away with this.”
It was not clear what, if any, relationship existed between Palmer and Hayes.
The pair was friends on Facebook, with Hayes posting on March 3: “Sh**** day today but thank god for Joshua Palmer.”
Three days later the two posed for a picture that Hayes posted on social media, referring to Palmer as “my dude.”
Palmer is being held without bail at the San Diego Central Jail. He is expected in court for his arraignment on Tuesday.