Two families are reeling after learning that their daughters, both models in Los Angeles, were found dead in luxury apartments in the city’s downtown last week.
The bodies of Maleesa Mooney, 31, and Nichole (Nikki) Coats, 32, were discovered late last week in apartments just a few miles from each other.
Mooney’s death is being investigated as a murder, the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) says, while Coats’ death is not being investigated as a homicide at this time.
However, a family member of Coats said the family believes she was murdered.
“I couldn’t recognize her,” Coats’ aunt, May Stevens, told KTLA about the moment family members discovered Coats in her apartment on Sept. 10.
“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.
Mooney’s body, meanwhile, was discovered two days later, on Sept. 12, when officers received a call asking to check on her welfare.
Details of what they discovered are slim, and police say they do not know the cause of death at this time, but the LAPD is asking for help in identifying the persons or people responsible for the crime.
Asked if the cases could be linked, a police spokesperson told ABC News on Monday, “it’s too soon” to tell and that they are still awaiting the coroner’s reports.
However, Lt. Ricard Lopez told the Los Angeles Times that Coats’ death is still under “active investigation,” and that the cause of death is “subject to change” once the coroner’s report comes back.
Mooney’s sister, Jourdin Pauline, spoke to local station KABC Friday during a rally demanding justice for her sister. She said her family grew concerned when they couldn’t get ahold of her.
“We’re supposed to grow old together,” Pauline told KABC. “That’s not supposed to happen to her.”
“She’s so kind, she’s so genuine, she’s so loving,” she added. “To have someone do what they did to my sister, to that caliber, is sick. It’s demented.”
Coats’ father, Guy Coats, told ABC News he last spoke with his daughter over FaceTime on Sept. 7 and that she was hanging out with a cousin and some friends at the time.
“I said you guys are just having a ball over there,” Coats said, adding that he told his daughter that he loved her and would talk to her later.
He described his daughter as a “beautiful person” and said the family was “distraught” over the death.
He also said his family became suspicious after learning about Mooney’s death “just around the corner,” and while they don’t want to jump to conclusions, they fear there might be a predator on the loose.
“I said it may not have anything to do with my baby – but whatever it is then we need to at least put this out.”
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