SAN DIEGO – Ali Abulaban is a husband and father who’s widely known as a TikTok star. He’s also accused of double murder.
In an emotionally charged jailhouse interview, Abulaban, 29, spoke to FOX 5 about what led up to that October day when his estranged wife and her friend were shot dead in an East Village high-rise apartment.
“Did you kill her?” we asked.
“Don’t ask me that, don’t ask me that,” Abulaban answered over the jailhouse phone.
Abulaban was booked Oct. 21 into the George Bailey Detention Facility in San Diego. It was the same day his wife Ana Abulaban, 28, and her friend Rayburn Barron, 29, were found with apparent gunshot wounds to their upper bodies on the 35th floor of an apartment high-rise known as Spire San Diego. They were pronounced dead by paramedics shortly thereafter.
Prosecutors say just days prior, Ana kicked Ali out of their home, so he installed a listening device on their daughter’s iPad and used it to spy on his wife.
He told FOX 5 he was listening in on the house that day when he heard Barron’s voice. Ali said he didn’t know whose voice it was, but upon hearing it, he said, “I was freaking out.”
“Oh my god, I caught her, I caught her,” he said. “Oh my god, oh my god. There’s a man, there’s a man. And then guess what I hear like a f—— nightmare? R&B music.”
“I’m driving and I’m like, ‘Don’t have sex, Ana. Don’t have sex, Ana.’ I’m like, ‘Don’t do it,’ and I’m screaming,” he continued.
The screaming continued as he was driving to the apartment, he said. When he arrived, he said he went up and saw them. Asked what he saw there, he answered, “They were,” before pausing and blurting out, “Nothing. I didn’t see, I don’t really, it was a blur.”
‘That’s my family’
Still emotional, he says he felt like he was a passenger in his own body and described what he felt and saw when he opened the door to his apartment.
“When I opened the door and saw what it was, that f—— broke my heart,” he said, shouting with his left hand clutching the jail phone and shaking. “To see her kissing Ray on my couch with his feet on my table with my wife. My money. My apartment. My life. In the house that my daughter sleeps in on the furniture that I put together. What do you expect a man to feel?”
He continued in a mocking voice before returning to a shout: “‘Well, I guess that’s the end of my marriage.’ No! That’s my family.”
Prosecutors say Abulaban confessed to police and his mother that he killed his wife and Barron and accused his wife of cheating. But at this time, prosecutors say Barron was just a friend. When asked, Abulaban denied confessing to anything and could not explain why prosecutors claim he confessed.
He’s officially pleaded not guilty to the two first-degree murder charges against him.
In the time after the shooting, he was arrested driving on Interstate 15 with his 5-year-old daughter in the vehicle. Prosecutors also claim he had a gun with him. He confirmed he picked his daughter up from school early that day but said it was to drop her off at a safe location with his family.
He stated that he was the one who reported his wife and Barron’s deaths and insists he has nothing to hide.
Asked about what happened when he found his wife and Barron in the apartment, he gave a slight chuckle and shook his head no.
In the course of a 40-minute interview, Abulaban spoke at length about his and Ana’s past and how he started making TikTok videos. He says they moved to San Diego in February 2021 from Virginia. He repeatedly called their time in Virginia perfect, describing it as living the American Dream. It was in Virginia where he said he started doing TikTok videos as a hobby.
On the platform, he’s known as @JinnKid with nearly a million followers who watch his videos in which he impersonates violent characters such as Al Pacino’s Tony Montana from “Scarface.”
Ali tells us, “I miss making my videos. It’s everything I have. It’s my baby. I love what I do.”
He claims that he wanted to become an actor, a dream he said was “right there” in front of him. The weekend before the shooting, he said he was in Los Angeles at the Comedy Store and was close to having a talent agent and was speaking with producers.
Abulaban says he and his wife grew apart after they settled in San Diego. He blames the move and their lifestyle choices for their marriage’s failure.
“That was part of the downfall,” he said. “My wife wanted me to move her out here with her friends to a life where there’s taco Tuesday, women Wednesday, party Saturday, bar Sunday.”
Ali says Ana partied too much. But Ana’s childhood friend Cassie Conroy paints a different picture.
“He’s a bad guy,” said Conroy, Ana’s best friend for the past 15 years. “There’s nothing good about him. He’s selfish. That’s all I can say — selfish.”
Ali’s cousin Louis Marinari also recalled an incident when they were hanging out when Ali pulled out “like a full bag of cocaine.”
“Not like a little bag. A big bag,” Marinari said. “And we’re like, what the hell, you know? ‘Are you trying to get us all in trouble?’ He goes, ‘I’m JinnKid. I can do whatever I want. Nobody can touch me. I’m Jinnkid, you know?'”
When asked about his family saying that his social media fame changed him, that he was doing cocaine and didn’t care about consequences, he disputed the claims. He said his family “doesn’t know anything” and accused them of never caring.
When asked again about cocaine use, he acknowledges the drug “messed with my brain.”
“It made me violent,” he said. “It made me aggressive when I’m on it, yeah.”
Prosecutors say Ana was planning to file a restraining order and that Ali has a history of domestic violence. Conroy also confirms this detail. However, Ali denies ever hitting Ana.
Now, he tells FOX 5 that he’s “broken” and “devastated” that he’s lost his wife.
“My goal was just to try to get ahold of my family,” he said. “It was slipping through my fingers. I’m the loser here. I lost, I lost. I lost the love of my life, I lost the love of my life. Everybody I reach out to when I was going through this problem, when I couldn’t get ahold of Ana: ‘Dude, you gotta leave her, you gotta leave her.’ I know I gotta leave her but I don’t want to leave her. ‘Dude, you’re so handsome, you’re famous on the internet. You could get any model.’ I know I can but I don’t want to. I want my wife.”
But could anyone else have Ana? “Not while she’s married to me,” he said.
Abulaban was charged with two counts of first-degree murder and faces life in prison if convicted.
Abulaban says his public defender knew he decided to speak to FOX 5 before the interview and advised against it but says it was his decision to go forward with the interview. Out of sensitivity to the victims’ families, we let Conroy watch the story first. She’s representing Ana’s family. FOX 5 has not been able to speak to Barron’s family.
If convicted, prosecutors have the option to pursue the death penalty. His next court date is set for early January.