Colorado man accused of murdering ex-girlfriend, 18, had violent criminal past, records show

Colorado man accused of murdering ex-girlfriend, 18, had violent criminal past, records show

Fox News Flash top headlines for February 18

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what’s clicking on Foxnews.com.

The Colorado man charged with murdering his 18-year-old ex-girlfriend in a parking lot while with friends had a criminal history, including for violence — and was arrested just weeks prior for second-degree assault, officials records show.  

Stephen McNeil, 20, was charged Feb. 7 with first-degree murder, domestic violence, violation of a protection order and violation of bail conditions in connection with the Feb. 6 death of Danielle Hopton in Fort Collins, Colo., police said. Records indicate he was no stranger to the criminal justice system.

A person with the same name and date of birth as McNeil was arrested weeks earlier, on Jan. 21, for second-degree assault to a nonfamily member and criminal mischief, Colorado Bureau of Investigation records obtained by Fox News show.

Stephen McNeil was charged with first-degree murder (Larimer County Sheriff’s Office)
(Larimer County Sheriff’s Office)

The charges were linked to a pair of incidents – first, on Dec. 19, 2020, for which McNeil was also charged with felony assault, for an alleged strangulation, and harassment for making a threat by phone, records show. He was also charged with criminal mischief for a Dec. 29 incident in which he allegedly caused from $300 to $750 of damage, records show.

Additional details regarding the victim, or victims, in each case were not immediately available.

Investigators later learned that a group of friends, including Hopton, McNeil and a man named Ian Rayas, had made their way to the lot on East Drake Road to “hang out,” police said.

“Hopton and McNeil, who had previously been in a relationship, got out of the vehicle to talk and the assault occurred,” police said. “McNeil left the scene, and a member of the group called 911.”

Officials said Rayas “repeatedly denied knowing either party and maintained that he had no information about what caused Hopton’s life-threatening injuries.” But police later determined that was not the case.

He was arrested on Feb. 11 and charged with attempting to influence a public servant and accessory to a crime, both of which are felonies.

Fox News has requested information regarding legal representation for both suspects. 

A GoFundMe page has been created to benefit Hopton’s family as they grapple with the tragedy. An obituary describes how the teen – “a quiet, kind, and gentle soul” – had hoped to be an elementary school teacher.

She volunteered for Larimer Humane Society for four years and spent time helping her father raise puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind. She was registered as an organ donor.

CLICK HERE TO GET THE FOX NEWS APP

“She thought she could change one person at a time to make the world a better place, but sadly, she was too naive to understand you can not change every person,” the obituary states. “[She] thought everyone should do something to help society, so if you are looking for ideas, please give your time or money to your local abused women’s shelter, your local animal shelter, Guide Dogs for the Blind, or any other good cause you are passionate about.”

Online records reported by CBS Denver show Hopton and McNeil had attended the same high school, from which the teen had graduated in 2020. 

Fox News’ Paul Best contributed to this report. 

Source: Read Full Article