The model's boyfriend, who was engaged to another woman and killed himself after a police chase last week, is suspected in her death, Los Angeles Police Capt. Billy Hayes said at a news conference.
Adea had been living in Los Angeles for two years when she went missing.
Discrepancies in Spotz's alibi raised warning bells but he disappeared before police could track him down for further questioning.
Considered a person of interest in Shabani's disappearance, Spotz fatally shot himself after leading officers on a police chase in a stolen truck Thursday. LAPD had contacted the office Monday to notify sheriff's officials that they were working an active missing persons case in the area.
"We can not say that conclusively because the condition of the remains prohibits a positive identification", he said.
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The Nevada County Sheriff's Office said Shabani "sustained blunt force trauma to her head", but a cause of death is pending based on toxicology results.
Adea Shabani is seen in a photo released by LAPD. Police say they believe a body found in a shallow Northern California grave may be Shabani.
Shabani was apparently last spotted in the Tacoma, LAPD spokeswoman Rosario Herrera told the Times.
Shabani, who would have turned 26 earlier this month, graduated from high school in Skopje, Macedonia, and attended college in Paris, according to her Facebook profile.
Detectives from LAPD and the Sheriff's Office, as well as anthropologists from Cal State Chico responded to the scene, where they worked to determine if there were human remains buried at the location and whether they were tied to an active missing persons case, the statement said. "We believe this to be a homicide". Her family has also hired a private investigator.
Investigators had previously searched the Lake of the Woods wildlife area in Nicolaus, California to no avail before they found the remains in Nevada County, Hayes explained. "They had an intimate relationship, boyfriend-girlfriend", Hayes said Tuesday. On March 22, San Bernardino County sheriff's deputies found Spotz in his vehicle in the area of the 10 and 15 Freeways.