UPDATE (February 9, 2018):
Joseph Michael Lopez, 22, was arrested in connection with the Natalie Bollinger case on Thursday night. He is in custody at the Adams County Jail, according to KDVR.At a press conference on Friday afternoon, Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh stated that Natalie and Lopez had a brief “social media type relationship,” and that police do not believe that they were romantically involved. McIntosh also indicated that he does not believe that the killing was drug related.
He said that police had located a weapon “around” Lopez, but had not yet tied the weapon to Natalie’s case.
He stated that investigators had focused on Lopez as a suspect after the Adams County Sheriff’s Office “obtained numerous warrants” in connection with Natalie’s communication with others, including phone and social-media records.
The Sheriff’s office contacted Lopez, who came to the station voluntarily.
Following the interview, Lopez was arrested in connection with Natalie’s murder. Lopez does not appear to have a recent criminal history, according to an online records search.
McIntosh said that formal charges will follow — and that investigators have not yet identified a motive. He also stated that Shawn Schwartz, who had been a previous person of interest, “was not involved in her death or disappearance.”
“We believe that we have the lone suspect in this case,” he said.
This is a developing story.
ORIGINAL STORY (February 7, 2018):
ADAMS COUNTY, CO —According to the autopsy report obtained by CrimeFeed, Natalie Bollinger died of a gunshot wound to the head, but also had a “potentially lethal” amount of heroin in her system at the time of death.
The 19-year-old’s body was found on December 29, 2017, on land belonging to McIntosh Dairy Farm in unincorporated Adams County, Colorado. She had been reported missing at around 3:30 P.M. the day before, according to the Adams County Sheriff’s Office.
The autopsy was performed on January 2, 2018, by the Office of the Coroner for Adams & Broomfield Counties. According to the report, Bollinger was pronounced dead at 1:58 P.M. on December 29.
The cause of death was listed as “Gunshot Wound to the Head.” The report noted that no gun was found with the body, and that no bullet was found. “The circumstances of death suggest that this wound was inflicted by another person,” the opinion reads. “There was a potentially lethal level of heroin in the blood at the time of death.”
The report stated that Bollinger was shot at close range and “the wound path was directed left-to-right, front-to-back and downward.”The document also mentioned that Bollinger had “a history of heroin and methamphetamine use,” and that needle marks “with recent venipuncture sites” were present on her arm. You can read the autopsy report in its entirety here.
She was found wearing black jeans, a black hoodie, black boots and socks, and her body was covered in leaves which were “distributed on the face, in the hair and on the clothing.”
The teen’s life — and death — have played out on social media on an unprecedented scale, in part because she posted a Facebook message two weeks before her death alleging that a 37-year-old man named Shawn Schwartz had been stalking her. Bollinger claimed Schwartz drove across the county to see her, and “slept behind her work for weeks.”
She filed a restraining order against Schwartz on December 14. Schwartz later addressed the rumors in several Facebook Live posts. Some of them contain disturbing content, but he has continued to maintain his innocence.
Police have released very little information about the murder, citing the ongoing investigation. At a press conference in January, Adams County Sheriff Mike McIntosh stated that the last 23 hours of Natalie’s life were a mystery. Police say that the last time that anyone spoke to the teen was just a few hours before she went missing, at around 1 P.M. on December 28.
Family and friends hope to get justice for the young woman who loved animals and, according to her obituary, “treated everyone & everything with respect and dignity no matter their station or circumstances.”
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Main photo: Natalie Bollinger [Ted Bollinger/GoFundMe]