Police say that the deaths of two Black models in downtown Los Angeles are unrelated, despite speculation that a serial killer may be responsible.
The Los Angeles Police Department told the press on Sept. 19 that the two deaths were not connected.
The two models were found dead inside their apartments one mile apart within days of each other. Thirty-two-year-old Nichole Coats was found deceased inside her apartment on South Grand Avenue on Sept. 10. Maleesa Mooney, 31, was found inside her apartment on South Figueroa Street two days later.
According to the Los Angeles Times, the LAPD said there was “no evidence to suggest that the deaths of Ms. Coats and Ms. Mooney are related to one another.” The investigations into their deaths are open, but the LAPD did not provide additional details.
Coats was discovered in a bloody bed with one leg up, according to her aunt, May Stevens.
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“I couldn’t recognize her,” she said. “I believe it was murder, I really do. One of her legs was up in the air in a kicking position. That’s not somebody who just laid in their bed and died.”
Her mother, Sharon Coats, told the Los Angeles Times that her daughter was murdered and she would not rest until the killer was found.
“The bed was covered up and I went over there and I pulled the sheets back and I started screaming because there was blood everywhere,” she said. “I think it was foul play, and I’m not going to rest until I find the killer.”
Mooney was found after her family members became concerned when she did not respond to text messages and phone calls. The model and real-estate agent had moved into the building a month prior to her death. Mooney is the sister of Guyanese pop singer Jourdin Pauline. Pauline shared a tribute to Mooney on Instagram following the news of her tragic death.
“My heart is crushed, I can’t believe you won’t be here with us anymore,” wrote Pauline, in part.
“You were so loving and so kind to everyone. You made sure if you ate everyone around you was too. You opened your arms to people who didn’t deserve you as a friend. You’re the best thing to happen to almost everyone’s lives you touched!!!”
Despite Coats’ family’s belief that she was murdered, LAPD officer Tony Im said the circumstances surrounding her death did not conclusively indicate she was the victim of a homicide, and the coroner would need to determine the cause of death. Nothing “that stood out to us that would make it a homicide, so we need the coroner to do an examination of the body to see what caused the death,” said Im.
“We can’t assume things. We’re not going to start jumping to conclusions because we don’t know what happened.”
Coats’ family believes a serial killer could be responsible for the two deaths because of the women’s professions and the proximity of their apartments.
“We feel that it’s related,” said Coats’ aunt Linda St. Clair. “She wasn’t far from where Nicole lived, and they were in the same age bracket, and she was a model.”
A statement released by the LAPD did refer to Mooney’s death as a murder, but noted an autopsy would be conducted to determine the exact cause of death.
“The investigation revealed that Maleesa Mooney had been murdered inside of her apartment,” read the statement. Maleesa Mooney’s exact cause of death is unknown, pending a post-mortem examination, which will be conducted by the Los Angeles County Coroner’s office.”