A teenager who volunteered at an animal shelter was beaten to death in a Colorado parking lot and police say her ex-boyfriend is her killer.
Police in Fort Collins, Colorado, found Danielle Hopton, 18, in the parking lot of an apartment building on Feb. 6. She was unconscious and was taken to a hospital, where she later died. Her death was ruled a homicide.
Investigators determined that Hopton was socializing with a group that included Stephen McNeil, her ex, and Ian Rayas, according to Fort Collins police.
A group then went to the apartment complex and Hopton and McNeil got out a vehicle to talk, according to recently released details by the police. That is when he assaulted her. McNeil left the area and a member of the group called 911.
McNeil, 20, was arrested on Feb. 7 and charged with first-degree murder, domestic violence, violation of a protection order and violation of bail bond conditions.
Reyes remained at the scene and denied knowing McNeil, Hopton or details about the crime, according to Fort Collins police. Detectives determined he was lying and they arrested him on Feb. 11. He was charged with attempt to influence a public servant and accessory to a crime.
“Domestic violence happens all too frequently, and it affects people of all ages in many communities,” said Sgt. Heather Moore, who leads the Crimes Against Persons Unit, in the press release. “If you or someone you know is being affected by abuse, please
Hopton’s family stated a GoFundMe page to raise money in her memory. Her loved ones noted she volunteered at an animal shelter and helped her dad raise guide dog puppies.
“Danielle was a gorgeous, loving, kind and caring young woman. She was always smiling and laughing, she was always asking how you are doing and just genuinely cared about others,” a description reads.
All of the money raised will be split equally between Guide Dogs for the Blind, Larimer Animal Shelter, and Crossroads Safehouse. As of Wednesday morning, the fundraiser had raised almost $34,000, more than its $20,000 goal.
Anyone with information about this incident, who has not already spoken to police, is asked to call police at 970-221-6575. People who wish to remain anonymous may also contact Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868 or www.stopcriminals.org.
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