Police indicated that Paula Goodspeed, whose rendition of "Proud Mary" was roundly criticized by Simon Cowell and rejected by Abdul and Randy Jackson, had possibly committed suicide, said Ed Winter, assistant chief of the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner. An official cause of death had not been determined.
Authorities found Goodspeed's body Tuesday evening in a car that photos show bearing the vanity license plate "ABL LV" in a Los Angeles Lakers frame. Her parents had reported her missing hours earlier and expressed concern that she might hurt herself.
Los Angeles police spokeswoman Julianne Sohn says officers responded to a call about 6 p.m. Tuesday and arrived in the Sherman Oaks area to find the body.
"I am deeply shocked and saddened at what transpired yesterday," Abdul said in a statement released by her publicist, Jeff Ballard. "My heart and prayers go out to her family."
Goodspeed's audition was aired during the season that began in January 2006. She told the show's host, Ryan Seacrest, how she was a huge fan of Abdul and created life-size paintings of the singer and former Laker Girl; she also called Abdul "beautiful" after Cowell said he noticed a resemblance between Goodspeed and Abdul.
But Cowell also made light of Goodspeed's braces and bloggers trashed her appearance, which she noted in a MySpace posting months after the show aired.
"American Idol" producer Fremantle Media North America declined comment.
Ventura County Sheriff's Capt. Ross Bonfiglio said relatives hadn't seen the woman since about 11 p.m. on Monday and were concerned she might try to hurt herself. In June, the department checked on the woman at her home in Thousand Oaks after deputies received a tip from Los Angeles police that the woman might be at risk of self-harm, Bonfiglio said.