"Knowing is better than not knowing. Every time."
It was the 23rd of February 2018. A Friday. Twenty five year old Adea Shabani went to the coffee shop Ride n Grind beside her apartment in Hollywood, Los Angeles, United States. Hollywood is a place where people go to try to become a star and Adea was no different. On her Facebook page, she posed next to a giant print of a skyline that had the words "I'm going to be a very different kind of star" on it.
Adea had lived in LA for less than two years. She was born in Macedonia and after high school, she moved to France to study business administration at the American University of Paris. She then lived in Dubai for a while where she worked in a jewelry store but her dream was to act so she moved to Los Angeles to pursue that dream. Adea moved into an apartment in Hollywood. It was a small apartment and she filled her home with fresh flowers and covered the walls with movie icons such as Leonardo DiCaprio. Adea enrolled in the Stella Adler Studio of Acting to study acting. Adea loved going out and meeting new people and having fun but she was very professional when it came to her career. She took her classes very seriously and managed to get a small part in All or Nothing.
Adea was so reliable when it came to her classes and study that when she didn't show up for a class on Monday morning, the 26th of February, her friends were concerned. They knew she was excited about that class in particular as acting roles were being assigned and she hoped to get a good and big part. Some of her friends had tried to contact her unsuccessfully over the weekend and they were concerned about her welfare. They asked police to do a welfare check. They knew she had been at the coffee shop on the Friday, the 23rd of February, at 11am but that was the last known sighting of her.
Police went to her apartment. The apartment was unlocked which was unusual. Her laptop was there and looked like it had been used on the Friday evening. Apart from that, there was nothing to indicate where Adea was. They checked the surveillance footage from the apartment block and saw Adea inside the elevator around noon on the Friday. She was wearing a baseball cap and carrying two pieces of luggage . Adea wasn't alone. She was in the elevator with a man.
Police identified the man as Adea's thirty three year old boyfriend Christopher Chris Spotz. Chris was also wearing a baseball cap. Adea's phone was switched off around that time. The last test message she sent was to a friend asking where she could purchase red candles.
Chris Spotz and Adea Shabani
Chris and Adea met at acting school. Chris was from Colorado but was also an aspiring actor so moved to Los Angeles and attended Stella Adler. He did not want his teachers and classmates to know about their relationship so he kept it a secret.
Police spoke to Chris. He confirmed that he was with Adea on the Friday and that he collected her from her apartment. They were going on a road trip to his father's house in Northern California. Chris told them that they never made it there as on the way, they had an argument and he let her out of the car in Santa Clarita, 25 miles from her home, and drove away and that was the last time he saw her.
Police discovered that Chris was secretive about his relationship with Adea as he was engaged to another woman called Mary Elmalak. He had been in a relationship with Mary for a number of years but it was reported that Adea knew about their engagement. Police believed that Chris was involved in Adea's disappearance. They were unable to corroborate his version of events in relation to what happened on the Friday that she went missing.
On the 1st of March, while Adea was still missing, Chris and Mary left Los Angeles to go on a trip to his family home in Colorado. When they left Los Angeles, police discovered that the car he was driving, a Toyota Tacoma, was stolen. They put out an alert for police in different States to be on the lookout for the car.
The car was spotted on the 22nd of March in San Bernardino, California. Chris didn't pull over and stop the car when police requested him to. Instead, he led them on a 60-mile car chase. Police caught up with him in Corona, California and tried to make him get out of the car but Chris shot himself in the head before he could be arrested.
It was reported that Chris was not alone in the car at the time. The identity of the other passenger was not officially reported. Chris died as a result of the gunshot wound and police were unable to question him further in relation to Adea. She was still missing. But just five days later, on the 27th of March, Adea's body was found in a shallow grave in a remote wildlife area hundreds of miles from her home in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Adea's death was ruled a homicide and it was determined she died of blunt force trauma to the head.
The exact events of that day and how and why Adea was murdered may never be uncovered. She told a friend that she was going to the funeral of Chris’ uncle that weekend, the weekend of the 23rd of February, but Chris did not have an uncle who had passed away. There was no funeral. Did Adea know that at the time and just told her friend that or did Chris tell her that so that he could lure her away from the apartment?
Many questions still remain. While police believe Chris killed Adea and the case is closed, there are still things that have not been established. Why did he kill her? Did he act alone? There is a podcast available that delves deeper into what may have happened to Adea called To Live and Die in LA and it is available for free on Apple Podcast.
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"When someone just disappears for no reason, it's shocking, it's devastating. I just feel like my life stopped that day and I've just been in a tailspin ever since."
- Adam Vaughan, Janine's brother
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