Aspiring teacher and animal shelter volunteer Danielle Hopton, 18, was ‘beaten to death by her ex-boyfriend, in a parking lot’ in Larimer County, Colorado police said
Stephen McNeil, 21, allegedly assaulted 18-year-old Danielle Hopton after the two got into an argument on Feb. 6
Responding officers found her unconcious with life treatening injuries, but McNeil had fled the scene
She succumbed to her injuries in hospital, shortly after, McNeil was arrested on Feb 7 and booked into the Larimer County jail
The day Hopton was killed, she and her ex-boyfriend McNeil had been socializing with a group of friends that evening before driving to the parking lot to hang out
McNeil faces charges of first-degree murder, domestic violence, violation of a protection order, and violation of bail bond conditions
Ian Rayas, a friend present at the scene has also been arrested as an accessory to the crime
Rayas denied knowing Hopton or what caused her injuries when he was interviewed several times by cops at the scene and through the investigation, despite evidence proving otherwises
The ex-boyfriend of a Colorado teen who was found beaten to death in a parking lot has been arrested and charged with first-degree murder.
According to a Fort Collins Police Services press release, Stephen McNeil, 21, left 18-year-old Danielle Hopton with life threatening injuries in the parking lot of the Whispering Pines Apartments complex on February 6, after the two got in an argument,
McNeil was arrested on February 7 and booked into the Larimer County Jail, and also faces charges for domestic violence, violation of a protection order, and violation of bail bond conditions.
Officers responded to the complex around 11pm on February 6 after receiving a 911 call reporting an unconscious, injured woman in the parking lot.
The night Hopton was killed, she and her ex-boyfriend McNeil had been socializing with a group of friends that evening and drove to the parking lot to hang out, cops said.
The former couple left the car to talk when McNeil allegedly assaulted Hopton and fled the scene, while one of the friends called 911.
Responding offcers found Hopton with ‘life-threatening injuries consistent with an assault. She was transported to an area hospital where she died from her injuries.
The Larimer County Coroner’s Office has ruled her death a homicide and said it will release her cause of death on a later date.
Another friend of the pair, Ian Rayas, has also been arrested as an accessory to the crime after he denied knowing Hopton or what caused her injuries when he was interviewed several times by cops at the scene and through the investigation, despite evidence proving otherwise.
After receiving evidence to the contrary, Rayas was arrested on February 11, and was booked into the Larimer County Jail on charges of Attempt to Influence a Public Servant and Accessory to a Crime, both class 4 felonies.
Hopton’s family said she was involved in sports including hiking, water and snow skiing, swimming, horseback riding, golfing, and tennis. Recently, she, had recently decided she wanted to be an elementary school teacher like her mom Justine.
Sgt. Heather Moore, who leads the Crimes Against Persons Unit, encouraged people who have been affected by abuse to reach out to law enforcement and other community resources ‘to help end the cycle of violence.’
‘Domestic violence happens all too frequently, and it affects people of all ages in many communities,’ she said.
Investigations Lieutenant Jeremy Yonce said the department will continue to work diligently ‘to support her family and seek justice.’
‘This heinous act of violence took a woman’s life and forever changed the lives of her loved ones,’ he said.
Hopton was remembered in her obituary as ‘beautiful inside and out.’
‘She was a quiet, kind, and gentle soul, who always preferred listening to others, rather than talking about herself,’ her obituary reads.
‘She grew up participating in many activities and sports, like writing, traveling (especially to a warm beach), hiking, water and snow skiing, swimming, horseback riding, golfing, and playing tennis for Fossil Ridge High School.’
Hopton volunteered with the Larimer Humane Society from 2013 to 2017 and helped her father Brent raise a few puppies for Guide Dogs for the Blind.
‘Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family of Danielle Hopton, who volunteered with her family at Larimer Humane Society from 2013 – 2017,’ the Humane Society posted on Facebook.
Hopton had recently decided she wanted to be an elementary school teacher like her mom Justine, according to her obituary.
‘Danielle always cared deeply about every living creature, especially those who are disadvantaged,’ her obituary reads.
‘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 cannot change every person.’
Hoptons family have asked those interested to donate their time and money to abused women shelters, animal shelters and Guide Dogs for the Blind.
Her family has organized a GoFundMe to raise money for Guide Dogs for the Blind, Larimer Animal Shelter and the Crossroads Safehouse – a local organization that provides shelter and legal assistance for victims of domestic violence.