Sheriff's homicide detectives on Monday identified a woman whose body was discovered inside a stolen car left abandoned in unincorporated Whittier over the weekend.
The woman was identified as 19-year-old Dawn McEveety of Huntington Beach. Her body was found entombed in a container that was placed inside the rear of the car, the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department said.
McEveety went by the name Molly, her parents said.
It appeared that McEveety died of a gunshot wound and her body was then dumped in the container, Sheriff's Lt. David Coleman said.
Orange County Superior Court records showed McEveety was set to be arraigned on Dec. 4 on a drug-related charge.
McEveety's parents said she was adopted at the age of 16 months from a drug-addicted birth mother, and that their daughter's own drug issues surfaced when she was just 13. They said they believe that she had been living in Artesia and may have been hanging out with gang members.
"She went back with the wrong crowd," her mother, Maura McEveety said. They last saw her in September, when she was serving time at the James A. Musick jail in Orange County for stealing a car and being in possession of methamphetamines.
"She was a wonderful child, and, unfortunately she was born with an addiction," Maura McEveety said.
Maura McEveety and her husband, Mike Sepa, said they are devastated by what happened to their daughter, and hope their tragedy will be a cautionary tale for parents everywhere.
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Sepa said he believes his daughter's death had something to do with her addiction. Her parents said she had tried rehab several times.
The red 1991 Toyota Celica hatchback was reported abandoned about 1 p.m. Sunday in the 8600 block of Bradwell Avenue, near Rivera Road. Neighbors said the car had been abandoned on the isolated road for about two to three days before anyone thought to look inside.
"It's not unusual to see an abandoned car, so I opened the driver side door and I'd seen that there was a big ice chest in the back," said one neighbor.
When deputies arrived, they "smelled a very strong odor indicative of decomposition," officials said.
The body was found stuffed inside a container, described by a witness as a cooler that measured about 4 feet long.
"It's frightening," said neighbor Josephine Madrid. "We're all retired here."