Colorado police have arrested a man in the December slaying of 19-year-old Natalie Bollinger. But the suspect, Joseph Michael Lopez, says the woman hired him to kill her after he answered her Craigslist ad.
Lopez, 22, was arrested Thursday on suspicion of first-degree murder in the death of the Broomfield, Colorado, teen.
He says he answered Bollinger’s Craigslist ad titled “I want to put a hit on myself,” according to a police affidavit, reports ABC-7 in Denver. He has been booked into the Adams County Jail.
Premium content for only $0.99
For the most comprehensive local coverage, subscribe today.
Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh calls Lopez the sole suspect but said the case is ongoing.
“Just because we have a suspect in custody, doesn’t mean the investigation is over,” McIntosh said at a news conference Friday.
Bollinger was reported missing by her family on Dec. 28 and found dead in unincorporated Adams County the next day, the Daily Camera reports.
An autopsy report from the Office of the Coroner for Adams and Broomfield Counties shows Bollinger died from a close-range single gunshot to the head.
She also had a “potentially lethal level of heroin” in her system at the time of her death, according to the autopsy.
The report states she had a history of heroin and methamphetamine use and that she had needle tracks on her arm and hand.
The police document outlines how investigators searched Bollinger’s phone and found more than 100 text messages between the two on the night she was reported missing. That was a conversation Lopez says was in response to the Craigslist ad, according to ABC-7.
“As you can imagine, a 19-year-old’s social media or phone, there’s a lot of data there,” McIntosh said. “So, looking through all of that data, conducting numerous interviews, we were able to develop and identify Joseph Lopez.”
The Sheriff’s Office found Lopez on Thursday as he was heading into his job at Domino’s Pizza.
A weapon was found “around” Lopez, McIntosh said, but it has not been tied to Bollinger’s death, according to the Daily Camera.
Lopez told detectives that “he was pretty sure that he knew what we were there for,” and that “he was sure it had to do with the girl he talked to on Craigslist,” according to the affidavit.
When Bollinger was reported missing, suspicion found Shawn Schwartz, a man whom Bollinger had been granted a restraining order against in December, the Daily Camera reports. Schwartz said he had been interviewed by police.
He insists he was not involved in Bollinger’s death.
Lopez appeared in court Friday, and a hearing has been set for Wednesday morning at which prosecutors are expected to file charges.