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Crime News Murders

Two Models Have Been Found Dead in Their Downtown Los Angeles Apartments in the Same Week

The bodies of Maleesa Mooney and Nikki Coats, both models, were found days apart in their downtown L.A. apartments and one of the cases is being investigated as a homicide.

By Gina Salamone

UPDATE: The Los Angeles Police Department has issued a statement addressing the speculation that the deaths of models Maleesa Mooney and Nichole Coates are connected. 

"Since both cases remain active investigations, details about either case will not be released; however, based on the investigations thus far, there is no evidence to suggest that the deaths of Ms. Coats and Ms. Mooney are related to one another," the department confirmed.

Police in Los Angeles are looking into the deaths of two models after their bodies were found days apart last week in their downtown apartments, with at least one of the cases being considered a homicide.

On September 12, at around 3:54 p.m., patrol officers from the Los Angeles Police Department responded to a radio call for a welfare check on South Figueroa St. in downtown L.A. Police found a victim, later identified as Maleesa Mooney, dead inside of an apartment, the LAPD announced Friday.

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"The investigation revealed that Maleesa Mooney had been murdered inside of her apartment," the LAPD stated of a probe by its Central Bureau Homicide. "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."

The homicide bureau is now asking for the public’s help for any information that may help with the murder investigation.

(L-R) Models Maleesa Mooney and Nichole Coats

Mooney was a 31-year-old model and real estate agent whose luxury apartment was located in the Bunker Hill neighborhood, Los Angeles station KTLA reported. Police were called to her apartment after she stopped responding to calls and texts from family members. 

“When a week went by, we just knew something was off,” Mooney’s cousin, Bailey Babb, told KTLA. “Her messages weren’t delivering and we knew something was up because we all have a special relationship with Maleesa.” 

Mooney's sister described her as a “peacemaker" to the station.

It was announced a few days later that the body of another woman, Nichole “Nikki” Coats, had been found in her apartment on September 10, just two days before Mooney's body was discovered. The family of Coats, who was 32 and also a model, became worried after she didn't respond to them trying to reach her, KTLA reported. 

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Coats' aunt, May Stevens, was among the family members who found her body. “I couldn’t recognize her,” Stevens told KTLA. “I believe it was murder, I really do.” 

Sharon Coats, the victim's mother, echoed that theory, telling People, “I think it was foul play." She added that while police have not classified Coats' death as a murder at this time, she doesn't "buy it" and wants to "rule it out."

“I want to find out what happened to my daughter,” Coats added to People. “It was too soon. She was too young. She just got a promotion on her job. A raise. She was doing well and then this happens."

Family members said that Coats had told friends that she was going on a date on September 8, and that that was the last time they'd heard from her. 

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Coats' case is being considered "suspicious," according to KTLA, which noted that the two victims' bodies were found less than three miles apart from each other. 

The LAPD has asked that anyone with info on the cases call Detectives Pierce or Marcinek at its Central Bureau Homicide division at (213) 996-4150. During non-business hours or on weekends, calls should go to 1-877-LAPD-24-7 (1-877-527-3247). Anyone wishing to remain anonymous can call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (800-222-8477) or visit www.lacrimestoppers.org.

Those with tips can also visit www.lapdonline.org, and click on “Anonymous Web Tips” under the “Get Involved-Crime Stoppers” menu to offer information.

Originally published Sep 19, 2023.

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