Originally appeared on E! Online
Content warning: This story discusses homicidal violence.
Authorities have shared more information on Maleesa Mooney's sudden death.
The model, 31, was found dead in her downtown Los Angeles apartment on Sept. 12 after police performed a welfare check at her mother's request. Once in the residence, authorities discovered Mooney's body inside her refrigerator, with the medical examiner later attributing her cause of death to homicidal violence.
The autopsy, published by local outlet KTLA on Oct. 27, gave insight into her horrific final moments, including a possible mechanism of her death.
The medical examiner said Mooney had a "faint, band like" mark on her neck with "erythematous discoloration," meaning skin redness. Further examination showed she had no hemorrhage—blood loss from a damaged vessel—or any other "abnormal findings" on her neck.
Though authorities don't believe she was strangled, they are not ruling out the possibility that she died from asphyxia (oxygen deprivation).
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"Based on the history, circumstances, and autopsy findings, as currently known, Ms. Mooney's death was likely the result of, or at least related to, the actions of another individual(s)," the report stated. "In particular, there is suspicion for homicidal asphyxia in this case. Characteristic anatomic findings of strangulation were not appreciated at autopsy, but the lack of these findings cannot exclude homicidal asphyxia by other mechanisms."
It continued, "Without findings to elucidate a clear mechanism of death, or knowledge of the sequence of events leading to Ms. Mooney's death, the cause of death is deemed homicidal violence."
Mooney—who was two months pregnant at the time of her death, according to her sister—was last seen on surveillance footage outside her apartment on Sept. 6. Her family grew worried when they couldn't communicate with her, they told KTLA, and her mom called to request police perform a welfare check on Sept. 12.
Her body was discovered "wedged inside the refrigerator with pooled blood beneath it," per the autopsy.
The investigation determined that she was bound and seemingly gagged during the violent attack.
"Her wrists were bound together, her ankles were bound together, and these bindings were tied to each other behind her back with miscellaneous electronic cords and clothing items," the autopsy read. "Additional clothing items were around her face and neck. An apparent gag, fashioned out of an article of clothing, was stuffed in her mouth."
The report also noted she had injuries to her neck, head and upper arm, but explained they were not likely her cause of death.
"The blunt force traumatic injuries observed at autopsy are generally not considered acutely life threatening on their own," it continued. "However, based on the circumstances of how Ms. Mooney was found, these injuries suggest she was likely involved in [a] violent physical altercation prior to her death."
There are no suspects in custody, per the autopsy, which notes that an unknown man was seen using Mooney's key FOB on Sept. 7 to use the elevator in her building.
Following her tragic passing, her family spoke out to mourn the loss.
"Never in a million years did I think I'd have to make this post and get justice for my one & only sister," Mooney's sister, Guyanese pop star Jourdin Pauline, wrote on Instagram Sept. 14. "My heart is crushed I can't believe you won't be here with us anymore."
Her tribute continued by remembering Mooney, who had also worked as a real estate agent, as a "loving" and "kind" person.
"You opened your arms to people who didn't deserve you as a friend," Pauline wrote. "You're the best thing to happen to almost everyones lives you touched!!! this is so sick I can't believe my baby big sister is gone!!!!! The reason I'm me is because of you!!! My first best friend the one who taught me everything I know!!!!!"
Police did not have an update on the case when E! News reached out following the autopsy report.
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