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Suspect charged in car trunk murder

March 10, 2009 11:46:34 AM PDT
A murder charge has been filed Tuesday morning against a Santa Monica man suspected of killing his 22-year-old girlfriend.Adel Chapel, 24, was already in jail for suspicion of carjacking when he was arrested in connection with the death of Denise Figueroa.

Her body was found Saturday stuffed in the trunk of her car in Valley Village.

Police believe Chapel bludgeoned her to death with a hammer.

"We are still investigating that. Maybe that is the only thing he had handy at that particular time," said Jane Creighton, prosecutor.

Figueroa was reported missing one week before her body was found and police estimate she had been in the trunk of her car for four to five days.

Chapel, who is believed to be Figueroa's boyfriend, was arraigned on Tuesday afternoon and pleaded not guilty to the murder charge. Detectives say Chapel is a suspect in a series of violent crimes in the San Fernando Valley over the last few weeks. He is being held on $1 million bail.

"For those find it in their hearts to contribute to Denise's final arrangements and the financial care and upbringing of her two-year-old daughter [who] was left behind, any amount offered will be most humbly appreciated," said Orlando, a Figueroa family friend.

Donations to the "Denise Figueroa Memorial Fund" can be made at any Wells Fargo branch.