Nineteen-year-old Natalie Bollinger went missing from her home in Broomfield, Colorado, on December 28, 2017. Only one day later, her body was found in a wooded area, and an autopsy revealed the teenager had a gunshot wound to the head, along with a deadly amount of heroin in her system. In the course of the investigation, the Adam County Sheriff’s Office began combing through the teen’s social media and phone, looking for contacts and clues. Their investigation led them to 22-year-old Joseph Lopez, who had exchanged over 100 text messages with Natalie on the night the teenager was reported missing. When the police arrested Lopez, he reportedly indicated he might know why the detectives wanted to talk to him. It didn’t take him long to offer up a reason why Natalie was dead and why he’d killed her. According to Lopez, the teenager had placed an ad on Craiglist that said “I want to put a hit on myself.”
Lopez, who has been charged with first degree murder, confessed to killing Natalie, according to an unsealed arrest affidavit. Lopez said he used a fake hit man persona and went to Natalie’s apartment on December 28. According to the affidavit and Lopez’s statement, Natalie wanted to be killed on her knees and executed from behind. The affidavit revealed that Lopez and Bollinger talked about how he would be paid before they drove to a secluded spot and got down on their knees to say a prayer before he shot her.
During the initial investigation, authorities spoke to some of Natalie’s friends, who admitted the teen had suicidal thoughts. Lopez said he tried to talk Natalie out of her decision to die, but she’d been having issues with her boyfriend and was determined to proceed with the plan. Lopez also told investigators that he had a history of depression and suicidal thoughts himself, and that he hadn’t told anyone what had happened, but it had been “eating away at him.”
The case is still ongoing, according to Adams County Sheriff, Michael McIntosh, but, as of right now, Joseph Lopez remains the sole suspect.