Detectives Arrest Suspect, 26, in Connection to Tatum Goodwin’s Murder
Wearing matching green oversized hoodies with the words “You deserve to be loved” printed on the back, Georgette Schuda and Madison Moyer held candles and flowers while exchanging a tight embrace. The two friends wept together in the rain, belting the words to Shania Twain’s “You’re Still the One.”
Their best friend, Tatum Goodwin, described by Moyer as her “platonic soulmate,” was found dead in an alley behind Laguna Beach’s South Coast Theater just three days prior.
“Tatum and I loved Shania,” Moyer told the Independent. “I had that song played to signify she’ll always be the one for me forever and always.”
Moyer and Schuda were among approximately 300 of Goodwin’s friends and family who met at the end of the San Clemente pier for a candlelight vigil on Wednesday night to pay respects to the slain 27-year-old, whose body was found by a construction worker on Nov. 12.
“No matter what, she was a light. She was a person who was nice to the meanest person ever,” a tearful Schuda told the rain-soaked crowd. “She was killing it. She was thriving in life. I’m so happy I got the chance to tell her I was so proud of her because she was making strides. She worked so hard. She loved so hard. She made sure that every person she came across felt special, and when she left, they were smiling. No matter what.”
Goodwin lived in San Clemente and worked as an assistant manager at Carmelita’s restaurant in Laguna Beach. The night she was murdered, she was last seen at Hennesseys and the Marine Room Tavern, according to reports from employees and friends.
“I want every single person here to know because there has been a lot of misinformation that she was nothing but happy on the day that her life was taken from her,” Schuda said. “She was smiling. She was with friends. She was so happy. Me and Maddie (Moyer) are more than thankful that we got to call her that night and say ‘we love you.'”
While Goodwin’s friends and family mourned her death, police had Dino Rojas-Moreno, 26, of Aliso Viejo, in custody in connection to her murder.
According to police reports, detectives arrested the suspect at 4:12 p.m., approximately three hours before Goodwin’s vigil. Authorities publicly announced the arrest and murder charges later that night.
“The person who did this to her, I want you to know, I f*cking hate you for the rest of my life,” Schuda said at the vigil. “She didn’t deserve that. Not an ounce of that person deserves to have life. I hope they spend the rest of their life regretting what they did and feel pain the way she felt pain. It is unacceptable what happened to her.”
Laguna Beach resident and business owner Heidi Miller told the Laguna Beach Independent that the suspect was a bartender and worked at several establishments in Laguna Beach, including Cabana, Royal Hawaiian and Rum Social’s sister restaurant Blossom’s & Branch.
“He was hired at Cabana right when they opened,” Miller said. “Dino served me dozens of times. We all park in the US Bank lot, so I’d often talk to him there. Jose (Gutierrez), the owner of Cabana, told me they let him go. He worked at a bunch of restaurants. When I saw his photo in the press release, my heart sank knowing I’d been around him down by my stores so many times.”
As of press time, it has not been revealed if the suspect was connected to the victim.
As of Thursday, Nov. 16, a GoFundMe set up by Carmelita’s restaurant owner Marcos Salim Heredia and Goodwin’s sister Kaylee has raised almost $28,000 in donations to help with memorial expenses.
“We are still in disbelief, and we don’t want her to go unforgotten,” Heredia wrote in the GoFundMe. “We are attempting to raise capital for her memorial services and also help with creating a memorial in the city, so everyone in town never forgets about our sweet friend Tatum.”
The police report stated detectives acquired enough information and evidence to identify Rojas-Moreno as the suspect responsible for Goodwin’s death.
Detectives said the homicide was an isolated incident, and there was no further threat to the community. The police have not yet reported a motive for the murder. Rojas-Moreno’s bail is set at $1,000,000.
“This arrest was the result of outstanding police work by our investigations team that worked tirelessly with our law enforcement partners to bring justice to Tatum Goodwin and her family,” Laguna Beach Police Chief Jeff Calvert said.
Anyone with information about this crime is encouraged to contact Orange County Crime Stoppers by calling 1-855-TIP-OCCS, or by installing the “P3 Tips” mobile application on Google Play or the iOS App Store or by using the website http://occrimestoppers.org.