Update: Suitcase murder suspect pleads not guilty to murder charge, held on $2 million bail

SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — Tuesday 3:07 p.m. — Joshua Matthew Palmer, 33, accused of murdering 21-year-old Shauna Haynes pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a murder charge.

Palmer faces 25 years to life in prison if convicted.

Judge David Szumowski ordered the defendant held on $2 million bail.

Deputy District Attorney Martin Doyle told the judge that Palmer is accused of beating and strangling Haynes after the two returned to the Chadwick Hotel after a night out.

The prosecutor alleged that Palmer — a platonic friend of the victim who also worked with her at the Spaghetti Factory restaurant — stuffed Haynes’ body into a suitcase and threw it out with the garbage.

Palmer — who was staying at the hotel — then made efforts to conceal he crime by sending false text messages to family and friends and cleaning up the crime scene, Doyle alleged.

A motive for the crime was not disclosed.

]Palmer will be back in court April 28 for a status conference and June 13 for a preliminary hearing.

2:45 a.m. — Joshua Matthew Palmer, accused of murdering Shauna Haynes and leaving her body in a suitcase near a hotel in Downtown San Diego, is scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday at 1:30 p.m. at the San Diego County Courthouse at 220 W. Broadway. The official cause of Haynes’ death has not been disclosed by authorities. 

Sunday — A memorial was held in downtown Sunday for 21-year-old Shauna Haynes, who was found dead, stuffed inside a suitcase last Wednesday. 

Candles were laid in a heart pattern near where her suitcase was found. The memorial included a tribal dance by a local Aztec dance troupe which gave thanks for her life. 

People who knew Haynes struggled not only with the loss of a friend, but also with the way her body was found. 

"I can’t come to grips with someone being able to just be trashed like that and someone that I am close to," said family friend Chelsea Palser. "She deserves so much more than what she got." 

Friday — San Diego Police reported Friday they arrested a suspect in connection to the woman’s body found inside a suitcase earlier this week.

 According to SDPD, at approximately 2:20 p.m., detectives arrested 33-year-old Joshua Matthew Palmer at 14000 San Diego Mission Road. Palmer was interviewed by Homicide Detectives and subsequently booked into San Diego County Jail on one count of murder.

Palmer is due to be arraigned in San Diego Superior Court on Tuesday, April 12. 

San Diego police also released the name of the victim. She has been identified at 21-year-old Shauna Haynes from San Diego. 

Anyone with information related to this incident is encouraged to call SDPD or Crime Stoppers at 888.580.8477

Thursday 2 p.m. — Authorities have identified the 21-year-old female victim but are withholding her name pending notification of her family. The ruling on her cause of death has not been made as postmortem exams continue. 

The man who called police to alert them of the suitcase noticed hair sticking out of the suitcase’s zipper, according to Lt. Ray Valentin. 

Wednesday 3:35 p.m. — A suitcase containing the body of a woman was found Wednesday next to a row of garbage cans behind a Core-Columbia hotel.

A man who lives in the area made the gruesome discovery near the corner of Seventh and A streets about 11 a.m., according to San Diego police.

Patrol officers confirmed the death, then called in a homicide team.

"The victim’s identity is unknown at this time,” Lt. Ray Valentin said in the mid-afternoon.

Once detectives fully document the spot where the travel case was found, the county Medical Examiner’s Office will take custody of the body for identification and autopsy purposes, police said.

11:00 a.m. — San Diego police were called to the 600 block of A St. at approximately 11 a.m. in response to an emergency call of a dead body. Homicide detectives arrived on scene and discovered a suit case with a body inside of it. 

More information on this story as it develops. 

Categories: Local San Diego News