Maleesa Mooney, model in Los Angeles, found stuffed in fridge with hands, wrists tied: coroner

Woman's body found days after another model, Nichole Coats, found dead in LA staff KABC logo
Monday, October 30, 2023
Model's body found stuffed in fridge of LA apartment, coroner says
The body of a Los Angeles model was found in her downtown apartment stuffed in a refrigerator with her wrists and ankles tied and her mouth gagged, according to a new coroner's report.

LOS ANGELES -- The body of a Los Angeles model was found in her downtown apartment last month stuffed in a refrigerator. Her wrists and ankles were tied and her mouth was gagged, according to a new coroner's report.

Maleesa Marie Mooney, 31, was found in her apartment on Sept. 12 after her family hadn't heard from her and asked the LAPD to conduct a welfare check. Officers used a key from the building manager to enter her unit and found her body inside the refrigerator, according to the Los Angeles County coroner's report.

Blood was pooling under the refrigerator and her body was found inside, bound with electric cords and clothing. A gag made from clothing was stuffed in her mouth and other items were covering her head.

Blunt force injuries as well as lacerations, abrasions and contusions were found on her face, head, back and upper left arm, according to the report. One rib was fractured.

A toxicology report also indicated the presence of cocaine in Mooney's system.

The report said the blunt force injuries by themselves were not severe enough to have caused her death on their own but they suggest "she was likely involved in violent physical altercation prior to her death."

Her cause of death was determined "homicidal violence," and the report suggests she may have been asphyxiated; although, no direct marks from strangulation were observed.

Murder investigation launched after woman, 31, found dead in downtown LA apartment

Los Angeles police have launched a murder investigation after a 31-year-old woman was found dead inside her downtown apartment, authorities said.

Mooney had just moved into the building a month earlier.

A police report indicates she was last seen on the building's surveillance video on the afternoon of Sept. 6.

The next day, a man was seen on video using her key fob to go up the elevator to her apartment, carrying plastic bags, according to the police report.

Vigil honors 31-year-old aspiring model found dead in DTLA apartment

Maleesa Mooney's family is incredibly devastated. They held a vigil Sunday night to honor the 31-year-old's life, with many dressed in pink - her favorite color.

Family and friends realized she was missing on Sept. 9 when she never showed up to pick up her belongings at her previous residence, as had been expected.

On Sept. 10, her sister asked LAPD to conduct a welfare check. Officers knocked on her door and received no answer, but did not enter the unit at that time.

SEE ALSO: Settlement reached after woman found dead in suburban Chicago hotel's walk-in freezer in 2017

It was not until two days later when Mooney's mother contacted the building manager, and that manager then contacted LAPD that officers entered her apartment and discovered her body inside.

No arrests have been made, and no suspects have been publicly identified in the case.

Mooney's body was found just two days after another model was found dead at a different apartment building in downtown Los Angeles. The two cases became publicly intertwined for a time as questions were raised about some similarities between the circumstances.

But police say they later determined the cases were not linked.

The other model, Nichole Coats, 32, was later determined to have died from drug-related causes. Hers was ruled an accidental death.