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Crime News Murders

California Man Charged with Murder After Allegedly Beating Woman to Death with Fire Extinguisher

Tatum Goodwin was found dead under a chain link fence with a sandbag covering her head. Dino Rojas-Moreno is charged with her murder.

By Elisabeth Ford
A personal photo of Tatum Goodwin

A California bartender has been arrested and charged with special circumstances murder in the case of a woman allegedly beaten to death with a fire extinguisher, authorities say.

On November 12, police responded to a report of a dead woman found in a secluded location in Laguna Beach. The Orange County Sheriff Coroner's Division later identified the body as 27-year-old Tatum Goodwin of San Clemente, Laguna Beach police said in a statement.

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After gathering evidence, investigators narrowed in on Dino Rojas-Moreno, 26, as a suspect in the woman’s death, according to the City of Laguna Beach. He was arrested November 15.

What is Dino Rojas-Moreno charged with in Tatum Goodwin's death?

Rojas-Moreno has been 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, a fire extinguisher, according to a news release from the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

He is being held on a $1 million bail.

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A construction worker discovered Goodwin’s body around 8:20 a.m. on November 12 at a construction site along S. Coast Highway in Laguna Beach, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office. Her body had been placed under a chain-link fence and a sandbag was put over her head.

How was Tatum Goodwin killed?

Rojas-Moreno allegedly approached Goodwin at around 1 a.m. on November 12 in a parking lot near where her body was later found, and assaulted her by her car, according to the DA's office.

“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 DA's office stated. "Rojas-Moreno is then accused of beating Goodwin to death with a fire extinguisher."

Rojas-Moreno didn’t show up to work the day Goodwin was killed, claiming he had been jumped by a group of men in Santa Ana.

According to the DA’s office, it is unclear whether Rojas-Moreno and Goodwin knew each other.

They both worked in the Laguna Beach area, but Goodwin’s family told NBC Los Angeles that they were not familiar with Rojas-Moreno.

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The owner of Carmelita’s Restaurants — where Goodwin worked as an assistant manager for four years — organized a GoFundMe to raise money memorial services and to create a memorial in the city.

“Tatum was a very hard working young lady and always kept a smile on her face,” Carmelita’s owner Marcos Salim Heredia stated in the fundraiser. “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.

Rojas-Moreno was employed as a bartender at The Royal Hawaiian Fire Grill, according to The Orange County Register.

Police have determined that this was an isolated incident and that there's no further threat to the community.

“The loss of an innocent life is a travesty for the entire community,” said Orange County District Attorney Todd Spitzer. “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 November 20 at Central Justice Center in Santa Ana.

The special circumstances charge means Rojas-Moreno is eligible for the death penalty or life without the possibility of parole if convicted.

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