Man arrested in Natalie Bollinger's death says she hired him to kill her

DENVER -- A man arrested in the shooting death of a 19-year-old Colorado woman told investigators she hired him to kill her, court records said. Joseph McDaniel Lopez, 22, said he responded to a Craigslist ad titled "I want to put a hit on myself," KMGH-TV reported.

Court records say he described how he and Natalie Bollinger exchanged text messages and he picked her up at her apartment in Broomfield, north of Denver, last December. Lopez said he tried to change her mind. They then drove around while discussing how he would be paid. They eventually stopped the car at a spot where he shot her. He said Bollinger provided the gun, which he took along with her purse.

Bollinger was found dead Dec. 29, a day after her boyfriend reported her missing. He also reported his Glock 9mm pistol was gone as well. 

Natalie Bollinger CBS Denver

An autopsy found she was shot in the head and had a potentially lethal amount of heroin in her system.

Investigators connected Lopez to the case through more than 100 text messages the two exchanged on the night she died. 

"The Adams County Sheriff's Office obtained numerous warrants regarding information relating to Natalie's communication with others," Adams County Sheriff Michael McIntosh said, CBS Denver reports

"Looking through all of that data, conducting numerous interviews, we were able to develop and identify Joseph Lopez," he said.

McIntosh said his investigators contacted Lopez and asked him to come in for questioning on Thursday about the murder. He was arrested after he voluntarily came to do interviews with sheriff's investigators.

Lopez told investigators that when they arrived at the spot where Bollinger was shot, she "knelt down on the ground and that he knelt down along her left side and slightly in front of her," court records said. He said they said a prayer, he got up and closed his eyes and fired the fatal shot. He told officers the gun was still in the trunk of his car.

Investigators did locate a weapon, but McIntosh said it's too early in the investigation to tie it to Bollinger's death. 

"Just because we have a suspect in custody, doesn't mean the investigation is over," he said.

McIntosh said Bollinger and Lopez were not in a romantic relationship and hadn't known each other for a very long time before the murder. 

The affidavit does not include any evidence of Lopez's claims or how much heroin was in Bollinger's system. The autopsy notes she had a history of heroin and meth use. Investigators say some of her family and friends reported she had a history of suicidal thoughts, but others said she was happy and looking forward to attending school.

It wasn't immediately known if Lopez had an attorney to speak on his behalf.

Craigslist officials did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment over the weekend.