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Denise Figueroa, 22

Denise Figueroa (2009-03-07)

Denise Figueroa, a 22-year-old Latina, was stabbed to death; her body was discovered Saturday, March 7, 2009, in the trunk of a black Nissan Altima in the 11700 block of Hortense Street in Valley Village.

Figueroa had been reported missing on Feb. 28 after she left her mother's North Village home and did not return when expected, authorities said.

Her body was found by police after they had been notified by KTLA-TV Channel 5, which had received an anonymous tip by fax. It was addressed "to whom it may concern," signed by "someone trying to help" and said that a homicide had been committed Feb. 28.

Adel Tabrizi Chapel, a 24-year-old Santa Monica man and Figueroa's boyfriend, has been charged with murder with the special allegation that he used a deadly weapon, a hammer.

Chapel was already in custody on a pending carjacking and assault case in Santa Monica, prosecutors said. He also is suspected in a series of violent crimes throughout the San Fernando Valley over the last few weeks, authorities said.

-- Ruben Vives and  Paloma Esquivel

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