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Model who was the sister of a Guyanese pop star died by homicide, autopsy shows

Model who was the sister of a Guyanese pop star died by homicide, autopsy shows

Maleesa Mooney, a model who was the sister of Guyanese pop star Jourdin Pauline, died by homicide, according to an autopsy report released this month.

The body of Mooney, 31, was found Sept. 12 in a refrigerator in her luxury high-rise apartment in downtown Los Angeles, authorities said. The autopsy report, dated Oct. 18 but obtained Monday, includes the results of drug testing that can take months to complete.

Police officers discovered Mooney’s body after her mother, apparently worried because she hadn’t been in touch, asked the manager of the high-rise to check on her, according to the report.

Maleesa Mooney.via NBC Los Angeles

It was the second time Los Angeles police officers had conducted a welfare check on Mooney’s residence that month, it said. Two days earlier, officers checking on her at the behest of her sister knocked on the apartment’s door and left after there was no answer, according to the report.

On Sept. 12 they had the help of the building’s manager, who let them in with a key, the report said. Inside, they noticed that food normally stored in a refrigerator was on a counter.

They opened the refrigerator and found Mooney inside, her wrists and ankles bound and her mouth gagged — all with clothing and other items, such as cords, the report said. An article of clothing was also wrapped around her neck, it said.

Security video showed her arriving at the residence with a woman and a man on Sept. 5, the report said. Elevator video from the next day is the last imagery of her alive, it said.

A man was seen on security video using Mooney’s security key to access elevators on Sept. 7, the report said. He carried plastic bags to the apartment, it said.

Mooney moved into the Figueroa Street building at the beginning of August, and on Sept. 9 she had been expected to return to her last residence to retrieve the rest of her belongings, according to the report.

When she didn’t show up, family members became concerned, it said, and her mother asked for the first of the two welfare checks the next day.

Blunt force trauma to her head and neck, a “triangular” cut on her forehead, abrasions front and back and marks from being tied up were found on Mooney’s body, the report said.

“These injuries suggest she was likely involved in violent physical altercation prior to her death,” the report concluded. “The cause of death is deemed homicidal violence.”

Drug tests indicated “recent cocaine use,” the report said. “The role that drugs and/or alcohol may have played in Ms. Mooney’s death, if any, is uncertain.”

A Los Angeles police detective said in the report that he has been assigned to investigate and that no suspects were in custody.

On Sept. 28, sister Pauline said on Instagram that she will continue to strive for “#JUSTICEFORMALEESA because she can’t let it “become a cold case.”

“We must stand up for all women of color,” she wrote. “Whoever did this to you will be found and severely prosecuted.”

Another model, Nichole Coats, 32, was found dead two days before Mooney’s body was discovered, raising concerns that both may have been murdered. Coats’ was found inside her apartment about a mile away, authorities said at the time.

A summary from the medical examiner’s office said cocaine and ethanol toxicity caused Coats’ death.

Dennis Romero

Dennis Romero is a breaking news reporter for NBC News Digital. 

Todd Miyazawa



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