22-year-old Joseph Michael Lopez of Thornton, Colorado was arrested by the Adams County Sheriff’s Office on first-degree murder charges in connection with the death of Natalie Bollinger. The alleged killer told police that he answered an online ad Bollinger published looking for a hitman to kill her.
Authorities reported Bollinger,19, died from a single gunshot wound to the head, and Lopez said the victim wanted him to kill her execution-style.
Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh announced the arrest in the case during a news conference February 9, and said Lopez is the lone suspect.
Heavy spoke with a woman who worked alongside Lopez who said she is in absolute shock following the man’s arrest.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Lopez Claimed to Have Answered a Craiglist Ad Where Bollinger Was Looking for a Hitman to Kill Her
According to an affidavit, Lopez claimed he killed Bollinger at her own request after she published an ad on Craiglist seeking a hitman to take her life.
During an interrogation, Lopez told detectives he came upon an odd Craigslist ad in late December where he claimed Bollinger had published the title “I want to put a hit on myself.” Lopez said he was visiting a “Woman seeking Men” category of the website, according to police.
Lopez then told authorities he made contact with Bollinger after he used a fake hit man identity, and agreed to meet her after repeated texts between the two, according to the affidavit.
According to police, the suspected killer said he subsequently picked Bollinger up and they discussed payment and how she wanted to be killed.
Lopez said the woman asked to be killed using her own gun and “on her knees…executed from behind,” the affidavit stated.
The autopsy states that the bullet entered the “left temporal region with evidence of close range firing.”
According to detectives, Lopez said Bollinger confided in him about problems she was having with her boyfriend. The boyfriend was the first to report her missing and claimed his gun had also vanished, the affidavit stated.
Lopez didn’t immediately confess to the crime, according to the document, and only admitted to shooting the woman after authorities said cell phone data showed him at the scene of the alleged murder.
2. Bollinger Was Reported Missing December 28, & Her Body Was Identified January 2
Bollinger, of Broomfield, went missing December 28 following a conversation with a family member, and police were contacted as loved ones grew concerned over the teen’s safety.
According to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Bollinger’s body was found in a wooded area on December 29 and later identified on Tuesday, January 2. Her death was initially treated as a homicide.
3. Lopez Was Described as a Seemingly Loving Father With a Big Heart, & Was ‘Throwing Up at Work’ the Day After Bollinger’s Body Was Found
Heavy.com spoke with a former friend of Lopez, Misti Janda, who said she is in shock after hearing the news of Lopez’s arrest. The suspect was her manager at Domino’s Pizza for about seven months, where she was employed as a driver. Janda stated:
He was an incredibly nice person. He had a big heart and he was funny. I was able to talk to him and get advice and I was able to cry to him. He was a great friend and coworker. He loved his baby so much and he just wanted to support him. He was a positive person. After he did what he did, he didn’t change at all. Nothing about his personality altered. I even talked to him about Natalie because I was following the case and thought it was bizarre. He looked me straight in the eyes and acted just as shocked by everything as I was.
When I saw his mugshot last night, I was in complete denial that it was him. And since then I’ve just felt angry and very hurt.
I feel really betrayed that I opened up to a person that I didn’t know at all. I never thought he would be capable of anything like this. It blows my mind. He was the type of person that I have seen cry and he was the type of person that sang and danced to Disney songs with me.
The people I know that have had a friendship with him all feel very scared and betrayed. None of us had any idea he could do anything like this. I’ve never even seen him raise his voice. He was very passive.
Janda told Heavy that Lopez was “throwing up at work and got his shift covered” on December 30, only a day after Bollinger’s body was found.
“Still trying to get over whatever I have, lost my voice yesterday from coughing so much,” Lopez reportedly texted Janda on January 1, as seen in the above screenshot.
“He was sick that night, December 31 and January 1,” she stated. “I am not sure if he had any remorse to be honest, but maybe that showed he was having some sort of reaction. It is all just so disturbing to think about.”
4. Autopsy: Bollinger Died From a Single Gunshot to the Head & Had a ‘Potentially Lethal’ Level of Heroin in Her System
According to the autopsy report, Bollinger died of a gunshot wound to the head, but also had a “potentially lethal” level of heroin in her system at the time of death.
Her manner of death was deemed a homicide on the autopsy, however Lopez is facing first-degree murder charges.
5. When Police Arrived to Arrest Him, Lopez ‘Was Sure it Had to Do With the Girl He Talked to on Craigslist’
According to the affidavit, Lopez cooperated with authorities. When police arrived to speak with the suspect he said “he was sure it had to do with the girl he talked to on Craiglist,” the document stated.
Lopez was approached by officers upon arrival to his job at Domino’s Pizza, police said. He then agreed to speak with detectives at a substation where he was subsequently arrested.