Twenty-one year old Shauna Haynes worked as a busser at an Italian restaurant called “the old spaghetti factory” in downtown San Diego.
Her home-life wasn’t great and she was so desperate to move out that when a co-worker offered her to stay at his room in The Chadwick residency hotel on the 600 block of A Street, she accepted. The co-worker, a (then) 32 year old man named Joshua Matthew Palmer, was interested in Haynes romantically; however the feeling was not mutual on Shauna’s end. She had spent several nights at Palmers place in the past to avoid the abuse at home, and was prepared to risk the awkwardness of moving in with Palmer long term so long as it meant that she could live elsewhere.
Shauna’s Facebook profile shows that the pair hung out together despite their age gap. “My dude be tryna score chicks in the club tonight!” says one caption under a photo of them getting ready for a night out at a club.
Little did the 21 year old know that Palmer would begin perusing her aggressively and would become obsessed and possessive.
“If you don’t put out soon, you’ll have to leave” he allegedly told her. It seemed the young woman had run from one abusive home to another, a fact that she was likely aware of and discussed at length with an old high school friend. Haynes backed up her claims by showing her friend the manipulative text messages that Palmer had sent to her in an attempt to pressure her into a relationship using threats: “If I can’t have you the way I want you I’m afraid I’ll do something I regret” he wrote.
Tragically, this threat was not an empty one and the body of Shauna Haynes was discovered on the 6th of April 2016. She had been hurriedly stuffed into a small suitcase which had been forcefully zipped up with great effort and discarded around the back of the Chadwick hotel near the dumpsters. Her dark hair had become tangled in the zipper in the process and served as an ominous tell-tale sign of the suitcases grisly contents. A man was said to have spotted the luggage and instantly knew that something untoward had occurred. The suitcase was small, but Haynes was a petite lady, it’s possible that no one would have ever assumed the travel case even contained a human body if it wasn’t for the unusual weight of the bag when one attempted to lift it.
I’m sure it wouldn’t surprise anyone to know that Palmer was the chief person of interest in the homicide, but what exactly happened the night of Shauna Haynes death and why was she murdered?
At the trial, which started this month and is currently on-going, the sordid details of the crime slowly revealed themselves in the form of witness testimonies and deleted video files from Palmers cell phone.
Joshua Palmer told the court he became concerned about Haynes after he and the victim had an argument following a sexual encounter where he confessed he had “crossed the line.” He claimed that Haynes had angrily fled from the apartment and described how they had both engaged in sexual acts with two other people earlier that night. One of the people in question was a female acquaintance of Palmer's named Chelsea Shea. Shea described the night as she remembered it to the court. She explained that she went for dinner and drinks with Palmer that night and wound up at his apartment at around 2 in the morning where they attempted to have sex. Palmer was unable to go through with it despite several attempts and they were eventually interrupted by Haynes returning with a guest of her own. Haynes and her male guest seemed to have little concern regarding the presence of Shea and Palmer and encouraged the pair to continue. Eventually Chelsea Shea wound up in a threesome with Hayes and her guest while Palmer could do nothing but watch the spectacle for a quarter of an hour before abruptly ushering them out of his residence. Although Palmer was unable to get aroused and join in on the group sex, he later lied to other acquaintances and proudly informed them that he had been part of it and had enjoyed the night thoroughly.
Haynes decided not to leave with Shea and her guest despite the extension of an invite and was never seen alive again.
The following day, just a few hours after the incident, Palmer he falsely reported the 21 year old missing. He referred to her as his “girlfriend”, despite the fact that they were platonic friends, and falsely informed the detective that she had bipolar disorder and had been using drugs and drinking alcohol that night. An autopsy performed on Haynes body would later determine that she had no drugs or alcohol in her system. Palmer was arrested just two days after the discovery of the victim’s body and is facing charges of murder, murder in the course of rape, murder during sodomy and penetration by a foreign instrument.
When Chelsea Shea contacted Palmer to enquire about what happened after she left she was informed that Haynes had decided to take off voluntarily after the pair had a sexual encounter. “She didn’t want to fall in love with me” he said in the text message reply.
The reality of the situation was drastically different.
A series of text messages sent from Palmers cell phone to Haynes told a very different tale.
He sent messages as he watched the 21 year old engage in a threesome with Shea and the other man. In the texts he condemned Haynes’ choices and expressed his disappointment that she would engage in sexual acts with complete strangers but refused to be intimate with him. He went on to say that the night had “destroyed” him and told her how he had never wanted anything as badly as he wanted her. The messages revealed that he threatened to kill himself since she had “ultimately killed his hope” of being with her.
The detective who filed the missing persons report at the station noticed that Palmers knuckles were noticeably red and took note of it. Palmer’s bruised hands sowed a definite seed of suspicion against him from the get-go and the investigation continued to focus on him as the most likely perpetrator of the crime.
Despite the obviousness of who was most likely responsible for the death of 21 year old Shauna Haynes, no one could have imagined exactly how depraved Palmers actions really were that night. A series of previously deleted videos were recovered from his cell phone; the first was something of an apology to the people who would be disappointed in his actions and a couple of hours later he shot another video where the camera pans across what is assumed to be the body of Shauna Haynes. She is believed to have been already choked to death at this point in time and the clip shows Palmers hands enter the frame and grab at her before he penetrates her body with the cell phone.
“I’m sorry I love you, but I can’t watch you having sex with somebody else. God I’m sorry.” He is heard to say over one of the clips.
Other deleted videos show various other women who appeared to be unconscious being groped at by (who is assumed to be) Palmer, however none of the woman have come forward or been identified (as I write this).
During a police interrogation, Palmer told a detective that he and Haynes had consensual sex that night after which she fell asleep. He then claims that he began secretly videotaping her, but was caught in the act resulting in Haynes angrily leaving clad in nothing but a blanket.
It is thought that Joshua Palmer raped and murdered Miss Haynes in a fit of jealousy before performing indecent acts on her corpse. Injuries to her body around her mouth and private areas support this theory. Palmers DNA was also found inside the victim.
Haynes is thought to have been strangled to death during the early hours of the morning, likely between 4am – 6am an hour or so after Chelsea Shea and Anthony Kern had been kicked out of the apartment.
Although Palmer denied any part in her murder evidence of blood was found on around his bed. His best attempts to clean it off the walls did not go unnoticed by forensic investigators as the blood was still visually present with the aid of luminol. It was later revealed that he had also sent text messages from Shauna Hayes phone to her friends and family in an attempt to make them believe she was still alive.
Palmer's defense attorney is attempting to defend her client with the excuse that he reacted out of humiliation. She argues that Palmer did what he did as a result of the woman he loved mocking his erectile dysfunction in front of his date and a man she had brought to his apartment uninvited.
But who can really argue that humiliation in the bedroom is an excuse for the alleged rape, murder and sordid acts against a young woman whose only crime was not being romantically interested in a co-worker, or at the very worst making a comment in bad taste during an intimate situation?
Palmer had threatened Haynes previously on more than one occasion and had been harboring obsessive feelings of anger and resentment against her stemming from rejection. The only reason Haynes was staying at Palmer's apartment in the first place was out of desperation, which Palmer was most likely aware of. Of course it could be argued that Haynes was using Palmer and acting inappropriately at his apartment, an accusation that many people would agree with as fitting, but this is still no excuse for the crimes the 32 year old man committed against Shauna Haynes that night.
The trail is currently on-going.
Palmer may be facing life in prison.