Bodies found in Cathedral City dumpster identified as homeless couple

Passerby discovers one body inside trash bin, police find second

Dumpster Bodies

CATHEDRAL CITY, Calif. - Two people found dead in a Cathedral City trash enclosure on Sunday have been identified by police as Diana and Roger James. Originally from Arkansas, Diana, 52, and Roger, 53, had been living in the area for at least five years. 

The couple was married and had been living off and on in the Coachella Valley for at least five years. The couple was homeless/transient and were familiar to merchants and business owners in the East Palm Canyon area of Cathedral City.

Around 11:30 A.M. Sunday, someone reported finding a woman's body inside a dumpster enclosure at 67782 E. Palm Canyon Drive. When police arrived, they found a man's body, as well, Cathedral City police Capt. Chuck Robinson said.

"Both of the deceased persons appeared to be homicide victims," he said.

Both deaths were deemed "suspicious" by the coroner's office, but no information was released on how they died.

The deaths sent shock waves through the homeless community in Cathedral City.  "I can't think of any reason why anybody would do anything like this to any human being, much less these two, because like I said I knew them well," said Todd Walenta, a friend of the couple. 

Cathedral City police spent Monday scouring through the area surrounding the dumpster, talking to business owners and other homeless people.  Now the police must go through all of their witness testimonies, a process Captain Chuck Robinson says can be difficult.  "Generally there's a lot of mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse issues, so we have to be very, very careful, because a lot of the information we get," said Robinson.  "We have to vet that out to make sure it's legitimate."

Walenta says the couple stay away from that part of the culture, that's why he remains in shock about their deaths.  "They weren't involved in drugs or alcohol," said Walenta.  "They were really good people, they kept to themselves.  It's hard for me to imagine, something like this happening to them."

While police continues to follow their leads, Walenta can't help but feel hopeless in  the loss of his friends, and now fear for his own safety.   "That could've been me, sleeping behind that dumpster so you betcha," said Walenta.

Anyone with information about the case was asked to contact police at (760) 770-0300 or (760) 770-0302.

comments powered by Disqus

Photo Galleries

  • On this day: October 23
    IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation

    On this day: October 23

    The U.S. Marines barracks in Beirut are hit by a truck bomb, Robert Bork's Supreme Court nomination is rejected, and the iPod is introduced, all on this day.

    Read More »
  • World's most empathetic countries
    Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

    World's most empathetic countries

    Michigan State University has put together a list of the most empathetic countries. Researchers interviewed more than 100,000 adults from 63 countries and found "higher empathy countries also have higher levels of collectivism, agreeableness, conscientiousness, self-esteem, emotionality, subjective well-being, and prosocial behavior." Find out the top 10 countries that made the list.

    Read More »
  • On this day: October 22
    Stephen Shugerman/Getty Images

    On this day: October 22

    The first parachute jump takes place, "Pretty Boy" Floyd is gunned down, football meets television, and The Supremes top the charts, all on this day.

    Read More »
  • Everything you wanted to know about the Electoral College
    William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

    Everything you wanted to know about the Electoral College

    The person ahead in the popular vote might not actually win the presidency. Why? The Electoral College takes the final vote -- not us.

    Read More »
  • Best Clinton, Trump lines from Alfred E. Smith dinner

    Best Clinton, Trump lines from Alfred E. Smith dinner

      Less than a day after their heated final presidential debate, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton traded shots at the Alfred E. Smith Memorial Dinner. Here's a look at the most memorable lines from the event.

    Read More »