A 24-year-old Santa Monica man has been charged with murdering his girlfriend whose body was discovered in the trunk of a car in Valley Village Saturday, March 7th, police said.

The Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office charged Adel Tabrizi Chapel Monday, March 9th, with one count of murder in the death of 22-year-old Denise Figueroa of North Hills, district attorney spokeswoman Jane Robison said. The charge carries the special allegation that Chapel used a deadly weapon, a hammer, to kill the victim, Robison said.

Chapel pleaded not guilty during an arraignment March 10th in Van Nuys Superior Court and prosecutors said they asked for bail to be set at $1 million. If convicted, Chapel faces life in prison, Robison said.

Police said Chapel was already in the custody of the county Sheriff’s Department for an alleged carjacking in West Los Angeles late last month and an assault case out of Santa Monica. He is currently under investigation for a series of violent crimes throughout the San Fernando Valley within the last few weeks, police said.

Chapel is suspected of murdering Figueroa, who he was in a relationship with, shortly after she was last seen by her family in late February, police said. Detectives said they are continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding Figueroa’s murder.

After receiving a tip through the TV station KTLA, Los Angeles Police Department North Hollywood division officers found Figueroa’s body in the trunk of a vehicle in the 11700 block of Hortense Street in Valley Village. The station had received the anonymous tip through a fax and police are encouraging the person who sent the information to come forward.

Figueroa had left a relative’s residence Saturday, February 28th and did not return as expected, causing family members to report her missing days later, police said.

Anyone with additional information regarding this case is asked to call North Hollywood homicide detectives at (818) 623-4075.

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