Arrest Made in Grisly Killing of Woman Found in Suitcase

Joshua M. Palmer, 32, is accused of killing 21-year-old San Diego resident Shauna Haynes, stuffing her body into a suitcase and leaving the luggage near trash cans in a downtown neighborhood

A 32-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of murder in connection to the grisly killing of a young San Diego woman whose body was found stuffed in a suitcase.

Joshua M. Palmer was interviewed by homicide detectives with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) and later arrested while he was at McGregor's Grill & Ale House in Mission Valley. He was booked into San Diego Central Jail Friday afternoon on one count of first-degree murder for the slaying of 21-year-old Shauna Haynes.

Images: Woman's Body Found in Suitcase

The gruesome case surfaced Wednesday morning when a passerby spotted a suspicious suitcase near some trash bins in downtown San Diego in the 1300 block of 7th Avenue and A Street. Police said a man who lives in the area saw the suitcase on the ground and walked over to check it out. 

That man, a former Navy service member who only wished to be identified as Phil, knew something was terribly wrong when he spotted human hair peeking out of the zipper of the luggage. NBC 7 spoke to Phil Thursday and he recounted the horrific moments when he realized there was a person inside that suitcase.

The young woman found dead and stuffed inside a suitcase discovered in downtown San Diego Wednesday is 21 years old, homicide investigators with the San Diego Police Department (SDPD) confirm. NBC 7’s Regina Ruiz reports.

"That’s going to be an image that I – that’s going to be on my mind for a while. You don’t erase that. It’s a person," Phil told NBC 7. "I have a mother, a sister, family friends that I love. No one deserves to be thrown out with the trash like that."

NBC 7 spoke with a local tattoo artist, Tommy Gunz, Friday night who did some tattoo work for Haynes last February at the SD Tattoo shop.

During their three-hour session, he inked the word “infantry” on the young woman’s arm, which she told him was a tribute to a friend.

Gunz said he was shocked to learn of the killing of his client.

"In a suitcase? Why, for what? Why even hurt a girl like that?" he told NBC 7.

He described Haynes as a "really nice girl," who was sort of quiet and "really sweet." 

"I wish the family all the best; love and wishes," Gunz said.

According to Haynes’ Facebook page, she said she worked at the Old Spaghetti Factory in downtown’s Gaslamp Quarter – not far from where she was found dead.

A spokesperson for the restaurant told NBC 7 Haynes’ death is a "sad and tragic event for our whole community."

 NBC 7 was there when police officers brought Palmer to San Diego Central Jail Friday afternoon. He declined to comment on the case and hung his head low as he sat in the backseat of the police car.

Police have not yet released details on the manner of Haynes' death, nor her connection to the suspect. Palmer will be arraigned in court on Tuesday. 

Gunz said Palmer resembles a man Haynes was with when she got her tattoo at his shop. If that was him, Gunz said he behaved like the woman’s boyfriend.

"I just hope he gets what he deserves," he added.

The investigation is ongoing. Anyone with information on this case can call the SDPD’S Homicide Unit at (619) 531-2293 or Crime Stoppers at (888) 580-8477.

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