A Colorado man was sentenced to 48 years in prison after admitting to fatally shooting a woman he said had posted a Craigslist ad looking for someone to end her life.
Joseph Michael Lopez, 23, entered a plea deal and pleaded guilty to second-degree murder in connection with the Dec. 29, 2017 death of 19-year-old Natalie Bollinger.
“Natalie Bollinger was a 19-year-old girl with her whole life ahead of her. The defendant was a predator,” Prosecutor Ally Baber said at the sentencing hearing, according to as quoted by a press release by Dave Young, district attorney for Colorado's 17th Judicial District.
Barber added that Lopez didn’t call 911 when he saw Bollinger’s Craigslist ad. “He didn’t respond as a human being. He responded as a predator,” she said.
Bollinger was reported missing by her boyfriend last December and was found dead a day later in a wooded area not far from a dirt road in Adams County, Colorado. It was later determined that she was killed by a gunshot to the head.
In February, Lopez was arrested booked on suspicion of first-degree murder in connection with her death.
He claimed that Bollinger hired him to kill her, and according to court records obtained by the Denver Channel earlier this year, Bollinger put up a Craigslist ad titled “I want to put a hit on myself.”
Lopez said he answered that posting.
Baber also said Bollinger and Lopez exchanged dozens of text message before he murdered her.
“He had hours and hours of opportunity to do the right thing and save her life, but he chose to murder her,” Baber said.
Lopez said that even though Bollinger gave him the gun to kill her, he did initially have second thoughts, according to People.
But eventually, he “knelt down along her left side and slightly in front of her” and the two prayed before he carried out the deadly deed, an affidavit quoted by People said.
Originally, friends and internet sleuths alike believed the teen may have been killed by a former stalker.
In the weeks leading up to her death, Bollinger vented on social media about being stalked by a man whom she had once tried to help and that she had known for a long time.
Bollinger claimed in a Facebook post that the man was stalking her — even sleeping behind her workplace — and that he had threatened to commit suicide in front of her, CBS Denver reported earlier this year.
Lopez does not appear to be that man.
Before Lopez was sentenced, Natalie’s father, Ted Bollinger, emotionally told her daughter’s killer that he took advantage of his child.
“She was vulnerable and drugged. Brutally shot and killed my baby,” he said, according to People. “I asked for an eye for an eye. You have been protected. The Bollinger family had no say in this. This is a deal with the devil.”
[Photo Credit: Adams County Sheriff’s Office, Broomfield Police Department]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxgen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for our Crime Time Newsletter and subscribe to our true crime podcast Martinis & Murder for all the best true crime content.