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Crime News Domestic Violence

Famous TikTok Star Convicted of Murdering Estranged Wife and Her Friend

The tragic series of events is detailed in the Peacock documentary The TikTok Star Murders.

By Cydney Contreras

A former TikTok star is living behind bars after being found guilty of murdering his estranged wife and her friend.

A San Diego jury found Ali Abulaban guilty of two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of his wife, Ana Abulaban, 28, and her friend, Rayburn Barron, 29, in late May. He is due to be sentenced on June 28. 

Now, Ali's rise to prominence as a TikTok star and the events that led to Ana and Rayburn's murders are being traced in the documentary TikTok Star Murders, streaming now on Peacock. In the feature-length program, friends and family speak out about the tragedy for the first time.

"It's going to take a very long time to recover from this — for all of us," Ali's cousin Louie told producers.

Keep reading to learn more.

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Ali and Ana's Relationship

A personal photo of Ana and Ali Abulaban

Ali met Ana while he was was stationed in Okinawa, Japan in 2014. According to Ana's friend Julia, Ana was attracted to Ali, then a U.S. Air Forceman, because of his "big personality."

Kayla, another friend of Ana's, added, "I think she saw someone that was successful, that had a good head on his shoulders; he had a good ranking in the military and they had a lot of laughter and love."

However, their relationship faced a setback when Ali was discharged from the military following a drunken altercation with one of Ana's friends, according to Julia. "Every time anyone would comment on Ana's looks or how lucky a guy he was to have someone like Ana, he'd be very bothered," she said.

Having been discharged, Ali decided to move back to Virginia, while Ana returned to the Philippines with her family. But shortly after moving back to the Philippines, Ana discovered she was pregnant with Ali's child, prompting the couple to seek a marriage visa. While waiting for the visa to be approved, Ana gave birth to their daughter, Amira.

In 2017, Ana moved to Bristow, Virginia with their daughter Amira, and wed Ali in a courthouse ceremony. "I just saw like a match made in heaven," Ali's cousin, Louie, said. 

Ali's TikTok Videos

In 2018, Ali began posting videos of himself doing impersonations of famous characters, like Al Pacino's Tony Montana from Scarface, under the name JinnKid.

"Ali becomes obsessed with it," said journalist Andrea Marks. "It's his path to fame and ultimately that path reveals the dark underbelly to social media."

On occasion, Ana would play a small part in the JinnKid videos, helping him to grow his following on TikTok. By 2020, he had millions of views, and eventually, he'd become verified on Instagram, a milestone for social media creators. The verified badge even led to collaborations with brands, helping Ali get paid for his content.

Their Relationship Turns Abusive

As Ali's star grew, Ana felt increasingly isolated and lonely in Virginia, having dedicated much of her time to raising Amira and filming TikToks for Ali, according to her friends. 

But after visiting with friends in San Diego, Ana decided to voice her desire to leave Virginia so she could be closer to the people she grew up with. "She said, 'I've been in Virginia for you; we've been doing your TikToks here, raising our daughter; I want to do San Diego for me,'" Julia remembered.

Ali agreed to the cross-country move, largely because it meant that he'd be able to work with influencers based in Los Angeles. "It was 100 percent exciting because his dream of becoming an actor is even closer than it ever was before," content creator Lucifer told producers.

On social media, the couple began to share a glimpse at their life in San Diego, showing people the glamorous side of their relationship. But behind closed doors, Ana's friends said that their marriage was deteriorating.

"They would hang out with only who he wanted to hang out with. If he didn't want Ana to come out with the girls and I, she wasn't going. He kinda just controlled how she spent her time in San Diego," Julia shared.

Tiktok logo

To make matters worse, Ali began to abuse cocaine. "He'd have a bag of it, like a big bag of cocaine, in his pocket and he would just pull it out in the middle of a restaurant, in the middle of a movie theater, pretty much anywhere we would go. He would even do it on his livestreams right in front of his audience," Louie remembered.

As time passed, those around the couple noticed that Ali seemed increasingly jealous of Ana's own social media posts in which she danced with friends and showed her life in San Diego. "He didn't want her having a life outside of him, he wanted her to hold the camera for him so he can make his skits," Kayla said.

Eventually, Ali began to record his conversations with Ana, often accusing her of cheating on him because they hadn't had sex in weeks. "No woman as beautiful as you is going to go a f-cking month without sex!" he yelled in one video.

And while Ana wanted to leave Ali, she felt that she couldn't because divorce is discouraged in Filippino culture, according to her friends. Moreover, if she divorced Ali, she might lose her visa and be deported to the Philippines, leaving her daughter in the custody of Ali. 

Desperate for help, Ana even called Ali's mom in one video. As Ana pleads for help, Ali's mom asks, "Ugh, why do you always go back to him? ... What kind of marriage is this? Your daughter is suffering."

The Violence Escalates

Ali later began to livestream his verbal disputes with Ana on TikTok and talk poorly about her to his followers. "That's when everything really, really, really started to go downhill," Julia said.

Around this time, Ali met Ana's friend Rayburn, who seemed to be romantically interested in Ana. Her friendship with Rayburn drove Ali jealous, leading to physical violence. After one incident of domestic violence, Ana threatened to go to police and share photos of her injuries on social media.

Still, Ana hesitated to leave Ali. It wasn't until a woman who lived in the same building as them told Ana that she had slept with Ali, that Ana decided to leave him and move in to another friend's house. In the process, Ana posted a TikTok video accusing Ali of cheating on her in their family home, causing Ali to threaten Ana with further violence. She ultimately deleted the video, but the damage was done as Ali felt his reputation was threatened.

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Then, in October 2021, Ali offered to move out of the apartment so that Ana could stay with their daughter. But unbeknownst to her, Ali had wrecked the apartment and put an app on his daughter's iPad so that he can listen in on conversations, according to the documentary. Worried that her daughter would come home to the mess and ask questions, Ana asked her friend Julia to pick Amira up from school and watch her so that she could clean up the place. 

Tiktok Star Murders Key Art

"Ana felt very scared after he vandalized the apartment and asked Ray to come to the apartment to help clean up," her friend Rachel said.

As Rayburn and Ana spoke in the apartment, Ali listened in through the app he put on the iPad. He then drove to the apartment and began recording audio, before walking into the apartment and shooting both Ana and Ray. They died at the scene.

Following the shooting, Ali picked up their daughter Amira from school, but was eventually apprehended by police on the freeway. He was arrested and charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

The Murder Trial

At one of the first hearings in the case, Ali seemingly showed no remorse for killing Ana and Rayburn, once calling his late wife a "b-tch" after he heard evidence that Ana had invited Rayburn to her hotel. Bailiffs had to hold Ali back during the courtroom outburst, a moment that made headlines in the local news.

It was after Ali's courtroom outburst that local reporter Kelsey Christensen reached out to Ali and coordinated a jailhouse interview. In the interview, Ali said that he had caught Ana kissing Rayburn on their couch but the rest was "a blur."

"I wanted to be an actor. And it was right there!" he yelled, crying as he discussed the arrest. "I'm the loser here. I lost."

When the trial began in May 2024, prosecutors set out to prove that the murders of Ana and Rayburn had been premeditated.  However, Christensen explained, if one jury member finds that the murders were not premeditated, that could result in a mistrial. 

On the other hand, the jury could convict Ali of the lesser charge of voluntary manslaughter, which could result in a sentence as few as six years behind bars.

Seemingly seeking to convince the jury of voluntary manslaughter, Ali's defense attorney Judy Green argued that Ali had shot Ana and Rayburn in the heat of the moment. "She's saying that Ana pushed Ali to the brink and that's why he broke; that Ana was the cause of why he killed her," Christensen said of Green's argument.

Ali even testified that he felt gaslit by Ana when he saw that it was Rayburn in the apartment, according to the documentary. 

But when cross-examined by the prosecutors, it was revealed that Ali had previously searched the terms "sex workers," "trash can," and "chopped bodies" online.

Ultimately, after hearing the audio recordings and testimony from Ali himself, the jury found Ali guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. 

Today, Ana's daughter Amira is in the custody of Ali's parents.