Ana Abulaban and Ray Barron: How Did They Die? Why Were They Killed?

Image Credit: CBS 8 San Diego/YouTube

In 2021, Ana Abulaban, 28 years old, and Rayburn Cardenas Barron, 29, were killed inside the former’s apartment in the Spire San Diego building. Since Ana moved from Virginia to San Diego with her family earlier in the same year, Rayburn remained a valued friend. Even so, there had been some allegations and assumptions about the nature of their relationship. Therefore, after the person behind the deaths was apprehended, a significant aspect of the following court trials focused on the motive behind the killings. The Peacock documentary ‘TikTok Star Murders’ invites the viewers to examine the same, as it chronicles parts of Ana’s life up until her and her friend’s unfortunate deaths.

Ana Abulaban and Ray Barron Fell Victim to The Former’s Abusive Marriage

Ana Marie Abulaban, born in June 1993 to Ron and Amelia Miller, was originally from the Philippines and grew up in Okinawa, Japan, where she met Ali Abulaban and started dating him in the early 2010s. Shortly after her boyfriend’s discharge from the U.S. Air Force and subsequent move back to America, Ana learned she was pregnant. As such, she moved to the States to Virginia, marrying Ali in 2017. Thus, the couple started their new life with their daughter, Amira.

Ana and Ali Abulaban//Image Credit: Facebook/People

After a few years of residence in Virginia with Ali’s parents, the husband’s career as an online content creator started taking off, prompting a move to San Diego at Ana’s request. In the new city, the couple moved into the Spire San Diego, and Ana found herself surrounded by a number of her friends. Rayburn Cardenas Barron, known as Ray, was among these friends. He was born in Mexico in 1992 and moved to San Diego sometime later in his life. While the two sported a reliable friendship, their friends divulged in the ‘TikTok Star Murders’ documentary that Ray’s crush on Ana was a known fact among their circles.

Meanwhile, Ana’s relationship with her husband was spiraling out of control as he developed a cocaine addiction, which severed their marital complications. Over the course of their marriage, Ali developed a history of domestic violence. Reportedly, his wife even considered getting a restraining order against him, only to be discouraged by her mother-in-law, Dalal Warra. By October 2021, things between Ali and Ana had escalated as the former suspected his wife of cheating on him.

Ray Barron//Image Credit: Find a Grave

Meanwhile, Ana wanted out of her marriage to Ali. On October 21, 2021, she was at The Spire, where she and her daughter were living without her estranged husband. The same day, she had texted Ali, “I want you out of my life, once and for all.” Afterward, her friend, Ray, visited the apartment. Eventually, Ali stormed into the apartment— seemingly out of the blue— with a gun and shot Ana and Ray. In total, Ali fired six shots that day and killed two people. Furthermore, he called his mother after the crime to tell her about it and sent her a picture of the crime scene as evidence. He made another phone call shortly after to the 911 emergency hotline and informed authorities that he had found Ana and Ray’s dead bodies. Before the cops came, the perpetrator fled the crime scene.

Ali Abulaban Claimed The Killings Were Unintentional

After Ana Abulaban and Rayburn Cardenas Barron’s deaths, the cops caught up to their shooter, Ali Abulaban, shortly afterward and arrested him. Consequently, he was imprisoned, awaiting trial, which began in May 2024. As per Ray’s sister, Jordana, friends and families of both victims were present in the courtroom. Due to the excess of evidence proving Ali’s involvement in Ana and Ray’s deaths— including CCTV footage and the accused’s confession to his mother over the phone— the defense didn’t attempt to disprove the same. Instead, they made the argument for a second-degree murder charge, claiming the collapse of his marriage drastically affected his mental health.

Ali Abulaban//Image Credit: COURT TV/YouTube

As such, the Jury had to determine the motive behind Ali’s actions and decide whether the killings were deliberate or not. The trial went on for weeks, during which the defense brought a psychologist who diagnosed the defendant with mental issues, including Bipolar I disorder, complex trauma, and unspecified personality disorder. Likewise, his mother, Dalal Warra, also came on the stand and testified about his difficult childhood under an abusive father. Furthermore, the defense also argued Ali’s cocaine addiction influenced his adverse actions.

Ali Abulaban’s Killing Spree was Proved to be Intentional

During the trial, the prosecutor alleged that Ali Abulaban was driven by his anger over Ana’s decision to end her marriage with him. They maintained that the accused was “jealous, controlling, and violent” in his marital relationship, citing instances of previous domestic abuse. On October 21, 2021, he snuck into the apartment on The Spire’s 35th floor and vandalized the unit. Afterward, he activated an application on his daughter’s iPad that recorded audio around the apartment. Moreover, Ali allegedly had a secret copy of the keycard, which he used to access the apartment. Thus, the prosecutor argued that Ali’s actions leading up to the killings showed signs of a premeditated murder.

Image Credit: CBS 8 San Diego/Youtube

Ali denied the claim, testifying that Ana always knew that he was in possession of the keycard. Furthermore, according to him, he had bugged the apartment with only the intention of catching his wife in the act of infidelity. Therefore, he testified that after hearing another man’s voice in the apartment and discovering Ana with Ray on the couch, he became overcome with emotions and fired his gun without any control over his actions.

Nonetheless, the prosecutor’s audio recording evidence confirmed that Ali killed Ana and Ray one second after his entry into the apartment. Both victims also sustained bullet wounds in the head. For the same reasons, the prosecution argued that the accused always planned on killing Ana that day. In the end, the Jury came to a verdict on May 29, 2024, finding Ali guilty of two counts of first-degree murder. Therefore, the court decided his actions weren’t fueled by a moment of passion but rather were deliberate and premeditated. Ultimately, Ana and Ray’s killer awaits sentencing, facing the possibility of a lifetime in prison.

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