On January 1, 19-year-old Natalie Bollinger was reported missing from her home in Broomfield, Colorado. Authorities found her body the next day in a wooded area and immediately suspected malicious intent. An autopsy showed she had died from a single gunshot wound from a weapon fired at close range into her temple.
Cellphone data and social media activity brought police to 22-year-old Joseph Michael Lopez, a Dominoes employee who they arrested on suspicion of first-degree murder.
Joseph Michael Lopez 6/6/95 arrested for the murder of Natalie Bollinger. pic.twitter.com/FUENFa1cOq
— Adams Sheriff's Page (@AdamsCoSheriff) February 9, 2018
During an police interview, Lopez admitted to pulling the trigger on Bollinger, but claimed that she’d actually hired him to do it. Lopez said she had posted an ad to Craigslist‘s “Woman seeking Men” category with the title, “I want to put a hit on myself.”
Lopez said he responded to the ad with a fake hitman persona and texted Bollinger about the details. He picked her up from her apartment and, according to the interview, Bollinger told him how she wanted to die: “on her knees… executed from behind.” She allegedly brought her own gun.
Lopez claimed Bollinger was dead-set on ending her life, reportedly citing problems with her boyfriend. Lopez alleged he took her to the woods and the two knelt side-by-side and said a prayer, and then he closed his eyes and shot her. He then left with her purse and the gun.
Lopez claimed he never told anyone about the alleged incident, including his fiancée, and that it had been”eating away” at him.
Bollinger’s autopsy report also showed a lethal amount of heroin in her system and that she’d had a “history of heroin and methamphetamine use.” Authorities ruled her death a homicide and have since charged Lopez with first-degree murder.