Paula Goodspeed, 30, a Season 5 contender whose audition performance of "Proud Mary" was panned and mocked by the judges, appears to have died of a drug overdose, police said, according to People.com today.
"Ms. Goodspeed's mother had gone to (the sheriff's department) to report her daughter missing, and advised them that she might be suicidal," says Los Angeles police Capt. James Miller.
"The sheriff's determined that Ms. Goodspeed may be up in the vicinity by Paula Abdul's house. Our officers discovered her vehicle parked on the street, and found her inside. She was unresponsive to officers."
The car, parked a few doors down from Abdul's house, featured a license plate "ABL LV" and had a photo of Abdul hanging from the rear view mirror. A DMV check of the license showed that the car was registered to Goodspeed.
"This has been ruled an apparent suicide," said LAPD officer April Harding.
Abdul was at the studio at the time the body was found and wasn't aware of it until she was told by the network, her publicist said.
Abdul said today that she was deeply shocked by her death.
"I am deeply shocked and saddened at what transpired yesterday," Abdul said in a statement. "My heart and prayers go out to her family."
Goodspeed's Idol audition was prominently featured by the show, and in her interview with host Ryan Seacrest, she clearly expressed her affection for Abdul.
"I really like Paula Abdul a lot. She's really cool," said Goodspeed when asked about her inspiration during the Idol audition process. "I'm a really big fan, and I made life-sized drawings of Paula. I've been drawing ever since I was a little kid, and my first drawing was of Paula Abdul."
Goodspeed sang a rendition of Tina Turner's "Proud Mary," and was criticised by the show's judges.
"It was terrible, what was that?" said Randy Jackson. In addition, Simon Cowell made disparaging remarks about her braces: "I don't know how you can sing with all that metal in your mouth."
Abdul, who lit up when Goodspeed said her name was Paula, said, "Speechless, don't know what to say" after hearing the song.