A father who made the heartbreaking discovery of his model daughter’s dead body in downtown Los Angeles said her face was bruised beyond recognition.
Model Nichole “Nikki” Coats’ is one of two models found dead in their respective apartments in the same area of the city just days apart, prompting fears they were both murdered.
Coats’ family started to worry after the 32-year-old abruptly stopped responding to texts, leading her father Guy and aunt May Stevens to check on her at the luxury apartment complex where she lived.
Guy used a spare key fob to enter the apartment and described what he saw as his worst nightmare.
“I went up to her bed and I touched her arm because it was extended out,” Guy told The Post. “She had a cover over her and I touched her arm, but her whole body was swollen, like it was inflamed.
“I took a look at her face and I immediately turned away because I just couldn’t take it. I knew immediately that she had already passed away.”
The beautiful 5-foot-8 model had large bruises on her forehead and her lower lip “looked busted,” her father said. Her face was so bruised and swollen the only way they were able to identify her was by her tattoos.
“I couldn’t recognize her,” Stevens told local TV station KTLA. “I believe it was murder, I really do. One of her legs was up in the air in a kicking position. That’s not somebody who just laid in their bed and died.
As of Monday, LAPD has yet to rule whether Nikki’s case is a homicide or not. Officials with the LA County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office have “deferred” the manner and cause of death pending further tests on his daughter, Guy told The Post.
Coats was found on September 10 and alarm bells rang two days later when Maleesa Mooney, 31, was also found dead in her apartment. Mooney, a model who also worked as a real estate agent in Beverly Hills, lived in the Skye at Bunker Hill luxury apartments located about three miles from Coats’ building.
Her family also alerted LAPD after Mooney didn’t answer their calls or texts.
LAPD found Mooney’s body inside the Skye apartment and her case has been ruled a homicide. Although they have not released details, detectives have reached out to the public for help in identifying possible suspects responsible for Mooney’s death.
LAPD officials told The Post they could not confirm or deny if the two cases are related.
A few days before her death, Coats was visited by her cousins and friends, and everything seemed fine, family members said.
Guy said his daughter had plans to take a trip to Cancun, Mexico, with friends the week she was found dead. She also had recently received a raise from the beauty brand company where she worked, so she was in “very good spirits.”
“I did have some initial concerns about her moving there because I used to go to Downtown in the 1970s and it has really changed since then, but the people around there haven’t,” Guy said. “But she would always tell me how discreet she was about going in and out and was very cautious.”
Guy said he didn’t notice anything unusual when he entered Coats’ apartment. There were no signs of forced entry and her laptop, cell phone and wallet were found inside. Nikki worked primarily from home, he said.
When he found his daughter’s lifeless body on the bed, Guy noticed the odd manner her body was positioned and saw red fluid on the bed.
“She was only wearing her panties and one of her arms was outstretched,” Guy said. “I couldn’t look too long and had to turn away, but I saw her fingers were starting to blacken on the tips.”
Coats’ family continue to struggle to understand what could’ve happened the last few hours she was alive, and friends have set up a GoFundMe to help the family.
“Nikki’s vibrant personality was one that touched and affected everyone she crossed paths with,” wrote John Clark, who established the fundraiser. “She is known as an amazing daughter, friend and soul. Her untimely passing has left us shocked.”
Guy said his daughter, who was born in Long Beach, Calif., had a full life and started her modeling career when she was 14 years old. At 24, Coats moved to New York to pursue modeling and work in the fashion and beauty industries.
She moved back to LA in 2021 to be with her family during the COVID-19 pandemic. After a year living with her family, she moved into the luxury Downtown LA apartment in December 2022.
“She was looking forward to so many things,” Guy said. “My daughter was a very sweet young lady and she was very loved. She had so many friends who loved her so much. We just want to know what happened to her.”