The Irvine Police Department dealt this week with a case that had the makings of something rare in America's Safest City: a murder.
Anna Oung, 31, of Long Beach, was found dead in the trunk of her car. That her husband led police to the exact location hours after reporting her missing could have raised suspicions. But after investigations by Irvine detectives and the county coroner, the case has been deemed a likely suicide.
Oung, it would be learned, had been battling demons since giving birth just more than three months ago.
But police had originally been engulfed in a "suspicious death investigation," confirms Lt. Julia Engen, the Irvine agency's spokeswoman, due to "the unusual nature of the discovery of Anna."
Oung's husband, who had earlier in the evening reported his wife missing, called Irvine Police just after 11 p.m. to the area of Beech Tree Lane and University Drive in Irvine. He said he had used GPS through his cell phone carrier to locate his wife's car in the residential area only a few miles from where she worked.
There might be some clue inside the vehicle about where Oung had gone, explained the man, who said he had no way to unlock the car. He gave officers permission to get inside the vehicle.
When the trunk was popped open, the mystery of Oung's whereabouts were confirmed, in grisly fashion. There were "visible signs of injury," according to Engen, who noted personal belongings that included Oung's purse and car keys were inside the trunk with her.
That, no doubt, eliminated robbery as a motive. No wonder cops initially believed the circumstances to be suspicious. But the initial findings of the coroner, based on Oung's injuries, and Irvine detectives, based on what they have learned about her, have pointed the ongoing investigation toward a suicide finding.
Just over three months ago, Oung and her husband celebrated the birth of their first child. Family members have told police Oung was diagnosed with "postpartum psychosis" after delivering the baby and had been receiving treatment ever since.
"Based on this and other related information discovered during interviews with Anna's family, detectives do not suspect foul play," Engen says in her statement.
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A final ruling is expected in the coming weeks from the coroner.
Through Irvine Police, Oung's family says they do not wish to grant media interviews.
"This tragic event has left Anna's family devastated and they have requested media be respectful of their family and home as they make preparations for her funeral," states Engen. "Additionally, they have requested she be referred to by her first name to reflect the nature of her personality."