Two models have been found dead inside their luxury apartments in downtown Los Angeles within the last week, authorities confirmed Saturday.
The death of Maleesa Mooney, 31, on Sept. 12 is being investigated as a murder, according to the L.A. Police Department. The death of a second model, 32-year-old Nichole Coats, on Sept. 10 is not being investigated as a homicide, according to the LAPD and the L.A. County Department of Medical Examiner-Coroner.
It’s unclear whether there is any link between the two deaths.
But family members of Coats, who went by Nikki, said in a teary interview with TV station KTLA that they believe she was murdered.
“I couldn’t recognize her,” Coats’ aunt, May Stevens, said, describing the way her niece looked when family members discovered her lifeless body inside her apartment in the 700 block of Grand Avenue. “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.”
Coats’ mother, Sharon, told the news station that the scene of her daughter’s death was bloody and gruesome.
The family could not be reached for comment Saturday night.
LAPD Officer Drake Madison said Saturday night that he has “no idea” about the circumstances of Coats’ death and that “we had no information of any type of homicide or anything. We couldn’t find anything on that. … It could be anything.”
Asked about Coats on Saturday, Lt. Ricardo Lopez of the coroner’s office confirmed the date and location of her death, and said it is under “active investigation.” But, he added, “the cause of death is deferred so we don’t have any cause of death to give you at this time. … That’s subject to change, but at this time, no.”
A GoFundMe site to cover Coats’ funeral costs had raised more than $11,000 as of Saturday evening.
Meanwhile, the LAPD is investigating Mooney’s death as a murder.
Officers found Mooney’s body Tuesday afternoon while responding to a radio call for a welfare check at an apartment in the 200 block of South Figueroa Street, according to a department news release.
The LAPD said Mooney’s cause of death remains unknown pending a postmortem examination. The department said in the release that it’s seeking assistance from the public in identifying the person or people responsible for her death.