ADAMS COUNTY, CO (WCMH) — A man accused of killing a Colorado teenager claims the 19-year-old hired him to kill her.
Joseph Michael Lopez, 22, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of Natalie Bollinger, 19, on Dec. 28, 2017. Lopez was arrested Thursday evening after investigators “mined” Bollinger’s social media accounts and phone records.
“As you can imagine, a 19-year-old’s social media or phone, there’s a lot of data there,” Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh told KMGH Denver 7.
According to court documents, investigators found more than 100 text messages between Bollinger and Lopez from the night Bollinger was reported missing. Lopez claims the conversation was in response to an ad Bollinger placed on Craigslist with the title “I want to put a hit on myself.”
Officers asked Lopez to come in for questioning, and he complied. During the interview, he told investigators he found her ad on Craigslist and agreed to meet and kill her after a lengthy text conversation. Lopez said Bollinger told him she wanted to be killed “on her knees… executed from behind,” according to the affidavit.
Police documents state some of Bollinger’s friends and family members told deputies she had a history of suicidal thoughts, but others said she was happy and was looking forward to attending school.
Legal analyst and criminal defense attorney David Beller said it might not matter to the court whether or not Bollinger wanted someone to kill her.
“Even if she asked for assistance, if he’s the one who pulled the trigger, it’s still murder,” Beller said.
Bollinger was reported missing on Dec. 28, and deputies found her body on Dec. 29. She died from a single gunshot wound to the head. Investigators also said she had a “potentially lethal” dose of heroin in her system.